Answer Files in Windows Embedded Standard 7

3/21/2011

An answer file is an XML-based file that contains setting definitions and values to be used by Image Builder. In an answer file, you specify various setup options. These setup options include how to partition disks, the location of the Standard 7 image to install, and the product key to apply. You can also specify values that apply to the Standard 7 installation, such as the names of user accounts, display settings, and Internet Explorer Favorites. The answer file for Image Builder is typically called Unattend.xml.

Answer files that you create in Image Configuration Editor are associated with a particular Standard 7 image. This association makes it possible for you to validate the settings in the answer file to the settings available in the Standard 7 image. However, you can use any answer file to install any Standard 7 image. If an answer file contains settings for components that do not exist in the Standard 7 image, those settings are ignored.

Settings in an answer file are organized into two sections, Components and Packages.

The Components section of an answer file contains all the component settings that are applied by Image Builder. Components are organized into different configuration passes: windowsPE, offlineServicing, generalize, specialize, auditSystem, auditUser, and oobeSystem. Each configuration pass represents a different phase of Image Builder. Some settings can be applied during one or more passes. If a setting can be applied in more than one configuration pass, you choose the pass in which to apply the setting. For more information about configuration passes, see Image Builder Configuration Passes.

For more information about the different components and settings that you can configure in an answer file, see Windows Embedded Standard 7 Packages Technical Reference.

Packages are used by Microsoft to distribute software updates, service packs, and language packs. Packages can also include Standard 7 features.

You can configure packages to be added to a Standard 7 image, removed from a Standard 7 image, or change the setting for features within a package.

The Windows Embedded Core, included in all Standard 7 images, includes Standard 7 features. For example, Media Player, Games, and Backup are all Standard 7 features in the Windows Embedded Core.

Features are either enabled or disabled in Standard 7. If you enable a Standard 7 feature, the resources, executable files, and settings for that feature are available to users on the system. If you disable a Standard 7 feature, the package resources are not available. However, the resources are not removed from the system.

For example, you can disable the Standard 7 Media Player feature to prevent end users from running Standard 7 Media Player. Although you disabled the package, those resources are not removed from the Standard 7 image.

Some Standard 7 features may require other features to be installed before the already installed version of Standard 7 can be enabled. You must validate the answer file and add any required packages.

Packages in an answer file are applied to the Standard 7 image during the offlineServicing configuration pass.

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