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Create a Windows Image for Multiple Architecture Types

When you are planning your deployment scenarios, consider how you will deploy and will maintain your images for different architecture types. There are several ways you can manage multiple Windows images for multiple architecture types. Because you can deploy both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows images from a 32-bit preinstallation environment, you can maintain 32-bit and 64-bit Windows images in the same .wim file or separate .wim files. For more information, see Cross-Platform Deployment.

Because you can store multiple Windows images in a single .wim file, you can create architecture-specific .wim files or a single .wim file that contains images for multiple architecture types.

  • 32-bit images only
    You can create a .wim file that contains Windows images for a single architecture type. In this scenario, you build a .wim file that contains one or more Windows images for 32-bit systems only. You create separate .wim files for different architecture types.
  • 64-bit images only
    You can create a .wim file that contains one or more of the 64-bit Windows images that you deploy. Because of the differences between x64-based and Itanium-based Windows images, you should create separate .wim files for each type of 64-bit image.
    noteNote
    Windows Setup does not prevent you from installing an Itanium image to an x64 computer. During an attended installation, a user must select which image to install. If you are using an unattended setup answer file, you must explicitly select the correct image during Windows Setup.
  • 32-bit and 64-bit images
    You can create a Windows image (.wim) file that contains multiple Windows editions for multiple architecture types. For example, you can create a Windows image that contains two versions of Windows Vista Ultimate, one for 32-bit architectures and one for 64-bit architectures.
    noteNote
    If you are applying an image by using ImageX, deploying to Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) computers requires at least two images: the Windows installation image and the EFI partition image. You can maintain both of these images in a single .wim file, facilitating the management and the deployment to 64-bit computers (Itanium-based or x64 EFI-based computers). For more information, see Apply a Windows Image to UEFI-based Computers.

Selecting the correct Windows image during installation

In unattended installations, if you store multiple Windows editions for multiple architecture types in a single .wim file, you must explicitly specify which image to install during Windows Setup with the MetaData setting. When you capture a Windows image, you can use the imagex /flags option to create the metadata to apply to the image that you are capturing. For example, you can add a metadata description of "Windows Vista Ultimate x64."

During attended installations, you can select the correct image to install during Windows Setup.

For more information, see Best Practices for Image Deployment.

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