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WinPE for Windows 8.1: Windows PE 5.1

Updated: December 11, 2013

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

(WinPE) Windows PE 5.0 (WinPE) is a small operating system used to install, deploy, and repair Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 R2, and other Windows operating systems. From Windows PE, you can:

  • Set up your hard drive before installing Windows.

  • Install Windows by using apps or scripts from a network or a local drive.

  • Capture and apply Windows images.

  • Modify the Windows operating system while it's not running.

  • Set up automatic recovery tools.

  • Recover data from unbootable PCs.

  • Add your own custom shell or GUI to automate these kinds of tasks.

Windows PE Command-Line

To get Windows PE, use the installer built into the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK). For more info, see WinPE: Create USB Bootable drive, WinPE: Create a Boot CD, DVD, ISO, or VHD, or see the Demo: Installing Windows PE on a USB Drive.

Windows PE runs the Windows command line environment, and supports these Windows features:

  • Batch files and scripts, including support for Windows Script Host (WSH), and ActiveX Data Objects (ADO), and optional support for PowerShell.

  • Applications, including Win32 application programming interfaces (APIs) and optional support for HTML Applications (HTA).

  • Drivers, including a generic set of drivers that can run networking, graphics, and mass storage devices.

  • Image capturing and servicing, including Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM).

  • Networking, including connecting to file servers using TCP/IP and NetBIOS over TCP/IP via LAN.

  • Storage, including NTFS, DiskPart, and BCDBoot.

  • Security tools, including optional support for BitLocker and the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), Secure Boot, and other tools.

  • Hyper-V, including VHD files, mouse integration, mass storage and network drivers that allow Windows PE to run in a hypervisor.

Windows PE has the same requirements as Windows with these exceptions:

  • No hard drive is required. You can run Windows PE entirely from memory.

  • The base version requires only 512MB of memory. (If you add drivers, packages, or apps, you'll need more memory.)

The 32-bit version of Windows PE can boot 32-bit UEFI and BIOS PCs, and 64-bit BIOS PCs.

The 64-bit version of Windows PE can boot 64-bit UEFI and BIOS PCs.

Windows PE is not a general-purpose operating system. It may not be used for any purpose other than deployment and recovery. It should not be used as a thin client or an embedded operating system. There are other Microsoft products, such as Windows Embedded CE, which may be used for these purposes.

To prevent its use as a production operating system, Windows PE automatically stops running the shell and restarts after 72 hours of continuous use. This period is not configurable.

When Windows PE reboots, all changes are lost, including changes to drivers, drive letters, and the Windows PE registry. To make lasting changes, see WinPE: Mount and Customize.

Windows PE does not support any of the following:

  • File server or Terminal Server use.

  • Joining to a network domain.

  • Connecting to an IPv4 network from Windows PE on an IPv6 network.

  • Remote Desktop.

  • .MSI installation files.

  • Booting from a path that contains non-English characters.

  • Running 64-bit apps on the 32-bit version of Windows PE.

  • Adding bundled app packages through DISM (.appxbundle packages).

Notes on running Windows Setup in Windows PE:

  • You can use the 32-bit versions of Windows PE and Windows Setup to install 64-bit versions of Windows. For more information, see Windows Setup Supported Platforms and Cross-Platform Deployments.

  • Although Windows PE supports dynamic disks, Windows Setup does not. If you install Windows to a dynamic disk created in Windows PE, the dynamic disks won't be available in Windows.

  • For UEFI-based PCs that support both UEFI and legacy BIOS modes, Windows PE needs to be booted in the correct mode in order to correctly install Windows. For more info, see WinPE: Boot in UEFI or legacy BIOS mode.

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