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Create a Windows Image for Multiple Architecture Types

Published: October 22, 2009

Updated: October 22, 2009

Applies To: Windows 7

noteNote
This content applies to Windows 7. For Windows 8 content, see Windows Deployment with the Windows ADK.

When you are planning your deployment scenarios, consider how you will deploy and 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 Windows image (.wim) file or separate .wim files. For more information, see Windows Setup 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.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.

To Create a Windows Image for Multiple Architecture Types

You can create a single .wim file that includes both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows images. You must have both a 32-bit Windows distribution and a 64-bit Install.wim file. (A Windows distribution is the collection of files on the Windows installation media that includes not only the Install.wim file, but the additional files and directories that are required for Setup.) Cross-platform deployment is supported only from 32-bit Windows Setup.

  1. Copy the entire 32-bit Windows distribution to a temporary directory on the local computer.

  2. Copy the 64-bit Install.wim file to a separate temporary directory on the local computer.

  3. At a command prompt, use the ImageX command to export the 64-bit Windows images to the Install.wim file in the Windows distribution.

  4. Repeat the imagex /export command for each 64-bit Windows image that you want to add to the Windows distribution.

For example, if you copy the distribution to C:\WindowsDistribution and the 64-bit Install.wim file to C:\Windows64-bit, you would use the following at a command prompt.

imagex /export "c:\windows64-bit\install.wim" 1 "c:\windowsdistribution\sources\install.wim" "Fabrikam 64-bit Image"

noteNote
It is important to add the name of the Windows image to indicate that it is for 64-bit computers only.

The 64-bit Windows image and all accompanying metadata are copied to the Install.wim file to a new index during the export process. When you have added all Windows images to the Install.wim file, your Windows distribution is ready to be used in your environment.

During attended installations, users will be prompted to select which architecture-specific Windows image to install (x86 or x64 images).

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 "Fabrikam 64-bit image".

For more information, see Best Practices for Image Deployment.

See Also

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