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Deploying Earlier Versions of Windows

Updated: May 8, 2008

Applies To: Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2

You can use Windows Deployment Services to deploy earlier operating systems such as Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. To do this, you use Sysprep to prepare the operating system, and then use a capture image to save the image in the Windows image (.wim) file format. Note the following limitations when deploying these images:

  • You must apply the image to the first primary partition. Earlier operating system images that have been prepared with Sysprep must be applied to the first primary partition (for example, C:\). Applying these images to other partitions is not supported.

  • The HAL must match. Earlier operating system images are hardware abstraction layer (HAL)-specific, meaning that they can be applied only to computers that have a matching HAL type. Windows Deployment Services filters out images that are not of that same HAL type.

  • External language packs are not supported. If you have an external language pack, the language selection drop-down list on the image selection page will be unavailable. Additionally, if you specify a language, locale, and keyboard layout in the user interface (or with an unattend file) the settings you specified will not be used in the image that gets applied. If you specify a language in the unattend file, the image selection screen will display.

  • You cannot apply a driver to an offline image by using the F6 key or load driver functionality (or using dynamic driver provisioning in Windows Server 2008 R2).

  • The Boot.ini file must exist in the image.

    1. Deploy the image of the earlier operating system to a reference computer.

    2. Use Sysprep to prepare the image.

    3. Capture the image of reference computer, including the Boot.ini file.

    4. Deploy the image by using Windows Deployment Services. When the image is applied, the Boot.ini file included in that image will be copied as well.

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