Tuesday 5 July 2016

Creating fully unattended XML answer files for Windows 10 Install ISOs for E2B

I detailed in a previous blog here, how to create and modify an XML file to fully automate the installation of Windows 7 and 8.

The process is identical for Windows 10. You need to specify a Product Key in the XML file (same as Win8), although not all ISOs may need it (e.g. some MSDN or Volume Licence ISOs).

The process is:

1. Create a basic XML file using the WAFG web page for Windows 10 here. Make sure you set a User Name, etc. or you will get a 'Windows could not complete the installation' error near the end of installation.
2. Modify it using the E2B XMLtoE2B.exe utility or manually (check/modify the locale settings - see below).
3. Add the XML file to the \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN10 folder on your Removable E2B USB drive (or see here for use with .imgPTN files).

This was described in a previous blog together with tips for debugging.

If your ISO uses a \sources\install.esd file instead of an install.wim file and contains multiple Windows images, you may need to use 7zip to examine the [1].xml file (open it in a browser) inside the install.esd file to find out what is in each image.

install.esd or install.wim file containing 2 images.

If an XML file is present, then you will
need to specify the correct image number.

I did run into a problem however, in that Windows 10 Setup stopped at the initial Language/Currency/Keyboard settings screen. By using the drop-down list boxes, I could see that I only had one choice for my particular ISO (English - United Kingdom).

It turns out that the ISO version I was using was only for the UK (I had downloaded it from the official Microsoft site) and did not support en-US at all. The solution was to replace all en-US strings with en-GB in the XML file.

The next version of E2B will include the sample XML file AutoWipeDisk0_Win10ProUK.xml in the \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN10 folder.

P.S. The version I was using was actually for both x86 and x64 systems, when I first booted to the ISO from E2B, it prompted me to select either x86 or x64 first - from then on, the installation was automatic.

Look Ma - no hands!

If you don't want to have to go to the E2B Windows Install menu, then the Windows 10 menu, then select the ISO and then select the XML file, you can just create a dedicated Main Menu entry which will automatically and immediately run Setup and wipe the internal hard disk and install Windows.
See here for more details.

If you also want E2B to automatically install drivers and applications too, take a look at E2B v1.82 with Snappy and Chocolatey (SDI_CHOCO)!

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