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What's New in Windows PE

Updated: April 1, 2014

Applies To: Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2

Here's what's new and changed in Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE/WinPE), compared to previous versions of Windows PE and MS-DOS.

This table compares the features and functionality with those of previous versions of Windows PE:

 

Feature Windows PE 5.x Windows PE 4.0 Windows PE 3.x Windows PE 2.x

Operating systems deployed

Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows 7, or Windows Server 2008 R2.

Doesn’t support: Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008.

Windows PE 5.1: Adds support for Windows 8.1 Update. For more info, see Update WinPE 5.0 to WinPE 5.1.

Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista, or Windows Server 2008.

Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista, or Windows Server 2008.

Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008

Scripts used to deploy Windows PE

No change.

CopyPE updated for use with the Windows ADK.

MakeWinPEMedia added to make creation of USB flash drives or ISO files easier.

CopyPE and Oscdimg tools included.

CopyPE and Oscdimg tools included.

Windows PE 2.1: Oscdimg tool updated to support larger images.

Scripting tools

.NET Framework optional component renamed to WinPE_NetFx.

PowerShell optional component renamed to WinPE_PowerShell.

Winpeshl.ini allows you to launch apps with command-line parameters in quotes. For more info, see Winpeshl.ini Reference.

.NET Framework 4.5 optional component added (WinPE_NetFx4).

PowerShell 3.0 optional component added (WinPE_PowerShell3).

Command-line scripting tools included.

Command-line scripting tools included.

Image capturing and servicing tools

DISM supports Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 images but doesn’t support Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 images. For more info, see DISM - Deployment Image Servicing and Management Technical Reference.

Windows PE 5.1: DISM supports Windows image file boot (WIMBoot). For more info, see Windows Image File Boot (WIMBoot) Overview.

Image capturing tools included with new dism /Capture-image and dism /Apply-image commands.

Doesn't support servicing Windows 8.1 or Windows Server 2012 R2 images.

Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) added. DISM is a command-line tool that you can use to customize a Windows or a Windows PE image.

The PEImg and Pkgmgr tools are not supported in Windows PE 3.0.

ImageX available as an optional application for capturing and applying images.

Doesn't support servicing Windows 8.1 or Windows Server 2012 R2 images.

PEImg is used to service Windows PE images.

After you run PEImg /prep against the Windows PE 2.0 image, the image can't be modified.

ImageX is available as an optional application for capturing and applying images.

Pkgmgr is used to install, remove, or update Windows packages in offline images.

Doesn't support servicing Windows 8.1 or Windows Server 2012 R2 images.

Optimizing Windows PE

The profiling feature is removed.

The default amount of scratch space is 512 MB for PCs that have more than 1 GB of RAM.

No change.

Smaller default size. The Windows PE 3.0 default image contains only the minimum resources to support most deployment scenarios. You can add optional components by using Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM).

The new dism /apply-profiles command allows you to further reduce the contents of a Windows PE 3.0 image to only those files necessary to support a given set of apps.

Windows PE 2.1: Supports booting directly from the hard disk, not into RAM disk.

Windows PE 2.1: Writable RAM drive: when booting from read-only media, Windows PE automatically creates a writable RAM disk (drive X) and allocates 32 megabytes (MB) of the RAM disk for general-purpose storage. You can customize the size, in megabytes, by using PEImg /scratchspace. Valid values are 32, 64, 128, 256, and 512.

File management

No change.

File Management optional component added for discovering and restoring deleted files from unencrypted volumes.

Windows PE 3.1: base image contains improvements that are related to 4k/512e drive support.

No 4k/512e drive support.

Memory

Maximum supported:

  • x86: 64 GB

  • x64: 4 TB

No change.

No change.

Maximum supported:

  • x86: 4 GB

  • x64: 128 GB

Virtualization

No change.

No change.

Windows PE 3.0 includes all Hyper-V drivers except display drivers. This enables Windows PE to run in Hypervisor. Supported features include mass storage, mouse integration, and network adapters.

Not supported.

Networking

No change.

Optional Remote Network Driver Interface Specification (RNDIS) feature added for enabling network devices that implement the RNDIS specification over USB.

The Windows PE 3.1 base image contains RNDIS binaries.

Windows PE 3.0: Hotfix available for 802.1X (LAN) support.

Windows PE 3.1 includes 802.1X binaries as an optional component. The file name of this package is WinPE-Dot3Svc.cab.

Supports IPv4 and IPv6. Doesn't support other protocols, like Internetwork Packet Exchange/Sequenced Packet Exchange (IPX/SPX).

Windows PE 2.1: Hotfix available for 802.1X (LAN) support.

Recovery

No change.

WinRE Configuration utility added (winrecfg.exe) to support configuring Windows RE in an offline operating system.

No change.

Supports Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE).

Security

No change.

Secure Startup optional component added for provisioning and managing BitLocker and the Trusted Platform Module.

No change.

Supports BitLocker and Trusted Platform Module.

Architectures

No change.

Supports x86, x64, and ARM-based PCs.

No change.

Supports x86, x64, and Itanium-based PCs.

To see which version of Windows PE you’re running, type regedit and locate this registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\WinPE.

Windows PE is similar to MS-DOS. It also includes support for the following features:

  • The NTFS 5.x file system, including dynamic volume creation and management.

  • TCP/IP networking and file sharing (client only).

  • 32-bit or 64-bit Windows device drivers.

  • A subset of the Windows application programming interface (API).

  • CD, DVD, and USB flash drives.

  • Windows Deployment Services server.

  • Image management and servicing (DISM).

  • Hyper-V drivers (all drivers except for display drivers). This enables Windows PE to run in a hypervisor. Supported features include mass storage, mouse integration, and network adapters.

  • Optional support for PowerShell, Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), Windows Data Access Components (Windows DAC), and HTML Applications (HTAs).

See Also

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