Windows Deployment Platform Components - Answer Files

An answer file is an XML-based file that contains settings to use during a Windows 7 installation. An answer file can fully automate all or part of the installation process. In an answer file, you provide settings such as how to partition disks, the location of the Windows 7 image to install, and the product key to apply. You can also customize the Windows 7 installation, including adding user accounts, changing display settings, and updating Windows Internet Explorer favorites. Windows 7 answer files are commonly called Unattend.xml.

You use Windows SIM (see the section titled “Windows SIM” later in this chapter) to create an answer file and associate it with a particular Windows 7 image. This association allows you to validate the settings in the answer file against the settings available in the Windows 7 image. However, because you can use any answer file to install any Windows 7 image, Windows Setup ignores settings in the answer file for features that do not exist in the Windows image.

The features section of an answer file contains all the feature settings that Windows
Setup applies. Answer files organize features into different configuration passes: windowsPE, offlineServicing, generalize, specialize, auditSystem, auditUser, and oobeSystem. Each configuration pass represents a different installation phase, and not all passes run during the normal Windows 7 setup process. You can apply settings during one or more passes. If a setting is available in more than one configuration pass, you can choose the pass in which to apply the setting.

Microsoft uses packages to distribute software updates, service packs, and language packs. Packages can also contain Windows features. By using Windows SIM, you can add packages to a Windows 7 image, remove them from a Windows 7 image, or change the settings for features within a package.

The Windows Foundation Package, included in all Windows 7 images, includes all core
Windows 7 features such as Media Player, Games, and Windows Backup. Features are either enabled or disabled in Windows 7. If a Windows 7 feature is enabled, the resources, executable files, and settings for that feature are available to users on the system. If a Windows 7 feature is disabled, the package resources are not available, but the resources are not removed from the system.

Source of Information : Windows 7 Resource Kit 2009 Microsoft Press

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