Build an Answer File Using Image Configuration Editor (Standard 7 SP1)


You can use Image Configuration Editor to help build a Windows Embedded Standard 7 image. To do this, use Image Configuration Editor on a development computer to define your image configuration and settings, and then save this configuration in an answer file. You can use this answer file in Image Builder Wizard to create and deploy the image onto your device. This method is the most flexible and versatile way to define your image requirements, especially when you need the image size to remain small. To learn more about the different paths you can take for image development, see Building Images.

The first time you run Image Configuration Editor, you will be prompted to enter your Image Configuration Editor product key. If you do not enter a valid product key, Image Configuration Editor will enter a 180-day grace period and you will be prompted for your valid product key each time you start Image Configuration Editor. At the end of the grace period, Image Configuration Editor will no longer be usable until a valid product key is entered.
The Standard 7 setup process performs several verifications, which rely on the target device's date and time settings. For optimal performance, confirm that the target device is set to the correct date and time.

Before you can build an image by using Image Configuration Editor, the following are required:

Required Hardware

Your development computer and your device must meet the minimum hardware requirements:

Required Software

The following software is required:

  • Image Configuration Editor must be installed on your development computer.
  • If your device can start from a DVD drive: The Standard 7 Bootable IBW disk appropriate for the architecture (x86 or x64) of your device.
  • If your device cannot start from a DVD drive you will need a USB flash drive that you prepared in Create a Bootable USB Flash Drive.

First, you’ll need to create a new answer file in Image Configuration Editor. To do this, follow the steps in Create an Answer File in Image Configuration Editor.

Every answer file is associated with a distribution share. A distribution share is the collection of packages and drivers that you can select from to add to your answer file. You can have multiple distribution shares on your computer, but an answer file can only use packages and drivers from a single distribution share.

Next, you need to add the drivers that your device needs to your answer file. Standard 7 includes many standard drivers, but your device may also require specific drivers that are not included with Standard 7. These drivers are referred to as out-of-box drivers.

You can manually add drivers in Image Configuration Editor, or you can use the Target Analyzer Probe (TAP) tool on your device to automatically detect which drivers your device needs. When you run TAP, it creates an output file with the extension .PMQ that you can then import into Image Configuration Editor to automatically add the drivers to your answer file.

For more information, see Add Drivers to an Answer File.

Next, you must select the functionalities that your device needs, and add these functionalities to your answer file. In Standard 7, the files and resources that compose a specific functionality are stored in a package. For example, some packages in Standard 7 are Windows Explorer Shell, Bluetooth, and Power Management.

In Image Configuration Editor, if you select a package, either in the Distribution Share pane, or in the Answer File pane, you can press F1 to find out more information about the package.

To add a package to your answer file, see Add a Package to an Answer File in Image Configuration Editor.

Next, you can modify settings in your answer file. Packages that you add to your answer file may have settings that define the behavior of the package. The Windows Embedded Core also has many settings that affect how your image is created and how your image functions. For example, you can modify settings in Windows Embedded Core so that user accounts are automatically created during setup, or you can modify the settings in Internet Explorer 8 to preset the home page of the browser.

When you install an image onto your device, Image Builder Wizard goes through multiple phases, known as configuration passes. For some settings, you can select which configuration pass the setting is applied during. When you modify a setting that is associated with more than one pass, make sure that you change the setting for the correct configuration pass for your setup. For more images about configuration passes, see Image Builder Configuration Passes.

For more information about modifying settings, see Configure Settings in an Answer File in Image Configuration Editor.

Certain packages in your answer file may rely on functionality provided by other packages. This is known as a required dependency. In Image Configuration Editor, press Ctrl+F5 to automatically add any required packages to your answer file.

In addition to the required dependencies, packages can also have optional dependencies. These optional dependencies cover non-essential functionalities that you can choose to omit from your image, such as the Help and Support Engine. In Image Configuration Editor, press Ctrl+Shift+F5 to automatically add any required packages as well as any optional packages that your answer file has dependencies on.

Packages that you add to resolve dependencies can in turn have their own dependencies, so you may need to resolve the dependencies multiple times.

In Image Configuration Editor, press the F5 key to validate your answer file so that you can see what the required and optional dependencies are for your answer file without actually adding any packages. Image Configuration Editor displays unresolved dependencies in the Message pane when you validate your answer file.

For more information, see Use Image Configuration Editor to Resolve Answer File Dependencies.

Next, you may need your image to perform some custom configuration scripts when the device first starts up, or you may need to configure registry keys. In Image Configuration Editor, you can do this by adding Synchronous Commands to your answer file. For more information, see Add a Custom Command to an Answer File.

Next, you must validate and save your answer file to make sure that your answer file is ready for deployment. You can press the F5 key to validate your answer file. Any errors or warning are displaying in the Messages pane in Image Configuration Editor. For more information, see Validate an Answer File in Image Configuration Editor.

Once your answer file is validated, and contains no errors, you must save your answer file to a location that you access from your device.

To install your image on your device, you must first start Image Builder on your device. For more information, see Start Image Builder Wizard on a Device.

On your device, in Image Builder, you can select Deploy an Answer File or WIM to start the process of installing your image by using your answer file. For more information, see Install Using a Configuration Set and an Answer File.

After you build the image, the next step is to customize it. For more information, see Customizing Images.