When you start a new installation of Windows 10, you must go through the Windows Setup, which is the experience that helps you to configure various settings, including language preferences, product key, and partition layout. After the installation, you also have to go through the out-of-box experience (OOBE), which you need to complete to configure settings like keyboard layout, account, and privacy settings.

Although the process is relatively easy for most people, you still have to spend the time controlling the installation and answering questions, which can take up a lot of time, especially if you need to complete multiple installations in your workplace.

If you want to automate the installation process (and save time in the process), you can create an answer file with instructions to complete every on-screen prompt, which you can integrate onto a bootable media. Then the Windows Setup can read to install Windows 10 automatically.

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In this Windows 10 guide, we walk you through the steps to create an autounattend.xml answer file containing all the necessary settings to perform a basic unattended installation of the OS.

How to create unattended Windows 10 installation media

On Windows 10, you can use many ways to create and set up an answer file to automate the installation process. This guide outlines the instructions to configure a “.xml” file to perform an unattended installation of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit on a computer with a single drive using Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) or Basic Input-Output System (BIOS).

After setting up the answer file, the process will erase everything on the drive, create and configure the necessary partitions, and install a fresh copy of Windows 10 with the most basic settings.

Warning: This is a friendly reminder that the installation process will completely erase the hard drive of your computer. If you have anything important on this device, it’s recommended to make a full backup of your PC before proceeding.

Requirements

This guide has quite a few steps, and you’ll need a few things to complete the project successfully:

  • Windows Assessment and Development Kit (ADK).
  • Windows 10 installation files.
  • Windows 10 account with administrator privileges.
  • USB flash drive with 8GB of space.
  • Spare computer to test the installation.

How to install Windows System Image Manager

Anyone can write an answer file manually. Microsoft offers the Windows System Image Manager (SIM) console available through the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) to make it easier to create the file to install Windows 10 unattended.

To install the Windows System Image Manager, use these steps:

  1. Download the Windows ADK installer for Windows 10 version 2004.
  2. Double-click the adksetup.exe file to begin the installation.
  3. Select the Install the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit – Windows 10 to this computer option.

    Install the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit

    Source: Windows Central

  4. Click the Next button.
  5. Select your privacy setting.
  6. Click the Next button.
  7. Click the Accept button to agree to the license agreement.
  8. Clear all preselected choices.
  9. Check only the Deployment Tools package to install the Windows System Image Manager components.

    Deployment Tools

    Source: Windows Central

  10. Click the Install button.
  11. Click the Close button.

Once you complete the steps, you can use the console to create a “.xml” file with the answer to all the questions to automatically install Windows 10.

After the file is created, you can adjust the settings and reuse it for other installations, instead of having to use the Windows System Image Manager tool.

How to create Windows 10 answer file project

After installing the Windows System Image Manager console, you need to import the OS installation files onto your device, and set up the environment to create an answer file.

Import Windows 10 image files

To create an answer file, you need to open a Windows 10 image and create a catalog of all the components to automate the installation. However, to perform this task, you must first import the installation files onto your device.

To import the Windows 10 installation files, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Navigate to the Windows 10 ISO file location.

    Quick tip: Alternatively, you can also connect the USB flash drive with the installation files. If you don’t have the files below, you can find the steps to use Rufus to download the latest ISO for Windows 10.

  3. Right-click the ISO file and select the Mount option.

    File Explorer mount ISO file

    Source: Windows Central

  4. Open the drive with the Windows 10 installation files.
  5. Click the Select all button from the “Home” tab.
  6. Click the Copy button from the “Home” tab.

    Copy ISO files to folder

    Source: Windows Central

  7. Navigate to the folder you want to use to store the files for the project.
  8. Click the New folder button from the “Home” tab.
  9. Specify a name for the folder – for example, Windows2004.
  10. Open the newly created folder.
  11. Click the Paste button from the “Home” tab.

    File Explorer paste files on folder

    Source: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, the installation files will be available on your device. However, to continue, you need to confirm the install.wim file image is present in the “sources” folder. If the ISO was created using the Media Creation Tool, you’re likely to have an install.esd, which you won’t be able to open because it’s encrypted.

If you don’t have an .wim image file, you can get the uncrypted image by downloading the latest Windows 10 ISO file from the Windows Insider Program or MSDN with a subscription.

Convert install.esd to install.wim

In the case that you’re stuck with an “install.esd” image, you can use the DISM command tool to export the image files and create a “.wim” image from a “.esd” file.

To decrypt an install.esd image, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for PowerShell, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.
  3. Type the following command to identify the index number of the edition you want to use and press Enter:

    dism /Get-WimInfo /WimFile:C:pathtofoldersourcesinstall.esd

    In the command, make sure to change the path to the sources folder location with the “install.esd” file on your computer.

  4. Confirm the index number for the edition you want to deploy. For example, in the case, select the index number of 6 to extract the files for Windows 10 Pro.
  5. Type the following command to create an install.wim file and press Enter:

    dism /Export-Image /SourceImageFile:C:pathtofoldersourcesinstall.esd /SourceIndex:6 /DestinationImageFile:C:pathtofoldersourcesinstall.wim /Compress:Max /CheckIntegrity

    In the command, make sure to change the path to the sources folder location with the “install.esd” file on your device. The destination path should be the same as the source.

    Convert install.esd to install.wim

    Source: Windows Central

Alternatively, you can also use the Rufus tool to download the Windows 10 ISO with an “install.wim” file.

Download install.wim using Rufus

To download a Windows 10 ISO file with Rufus, use these steps:

  1. Open Rufus download page.
  2. Under the “Download” section, click the latest release of the tool to save the file on the computer.

    Rufus download page

    Source: Windows Central

  3. Double-click the Rufus-x.x.exe file to launch the tool.
  4. Under the “Device” section, select the USB flash drive with at least 8GB of space.
  5. Under the “Boot selection” section, click the arrow button next to the “Select” option, and choose the Download option.

    Rufus download Windows 10 ISO option

    Source: Windows Central

  6. Click the now available Download button.
  7. Use the “Version” drop-down menu and select Windows 10.
  8. Click the Continue button.
  9. Select the 20H1 (Build 19041.264 – 2020.05) option to download the Windows 10 May 2020 Update.
  10. Click the Continue button.
  11. Use the “Edition” drop-down menu and select the Windows 10 Home/Pro option.
  12. Click the Continue button.
  13. Use the “Language” drop-down menu and select your installation language.

    Quick note: If you’re in the United States, you should select “English” instead of “English International.”

  14. Click the Continue button.
  15. Use the “Architecture” drop-down menu and select the 32-bit or 64-bit (recommended).

    Quick tip: You can find out the architecture of your device on Settings > System > About, under Device specifications.

  16. Check the Download using a browser option.

    Rufus Download using a browser option

    Source: Windows Central

  17. Click the Download button.
  18. Save the ISO file on your device.

Once you complete the steps, you’ll end up with an ISO file of Windows 10 that includes the install.wim file inside the “sources” folder.

Setting up an answer file environment

To prepare the environment to create a new answer file project, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Windows System Image Manager and click the top result to open the console.
  3. Click the File menu.
  4. Select the Select Windows Image option.

    Select Windows Image

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Navigate to the folder with the Windows 10 installation files exported.
  6. Access the source folder.
  7. Select the install.wim image file.

    Install.wim file

    Source: Windows Central

  8. Click the Open button.

    Important: Make sure that image is an install.wim file. Otherwise, if you have an install.esd image, this will not work.

  9. Select the edition of Windows 10 you want to use. (Usually, you want to select the version that you’re planning to install.)

    Select edition of Windows 10

    Source: Windows Central

  10. Click the OK button.
  11. Click the Yes button to create a new catalog file (if applicable).

    Quick note: This process will take some time, but it’s a one-time process. The .clg file will be saved in the same location where the install.wim is stored, and you can reuse it later on other projects.

  12. Under the “Distribution Share” section, right-click on “Select a Distribution Share” and select the Create Distribution Share option.

    Create distribution share

    Source: Windows Central

  13. Click the Create New Folder option in the dialog box.
  14. Specify a name for the folder – for example, “Distribution” and select the folder.
  15. Click the Open button.

    Select distribution folder

    Source: Windows Central

  16. Click the File menu.
  17. Select the Select Distribution Share option.

    Select distribution share

    Source: Windows Central

  18. Locate the folder you recently created for the distribution files.
  19. Click the Open button.
  20. Click the File menu.
  21. Select the New Answer File option.

    Create Windows 10 answer file

    Source: Windows Central

After you complete the steps, the environment will be created to configure an answer file.

How to create Windows 10 answer file

An answer file contains seven different stages (passes), and the stages you need to configure will depend upon the type of automation you want to create.

This guide will help you to get started configuring an autounattend.xml answer file with the minimum requirements to automate the installation of Windows 10 Pro using the 1 windowsPE, 4 specialize, and 7 oobeSystem stages.

Pass 1 windowsPE

Using the pass “1 windowsPE,” you’ll set up region and language, drive configuration, installation location, and product key.

Quick note: Depending on the image, you may see the components name starting with amd64_Microsoft-Windows for the 64-bit version or x86_Microsoft-Windows for the 32-bit version of Windows 10. For this guide, we’ll be using the amd64_Microsoft-Windows name format.

Configure language and region settings

To configure the region and language settings, while in the Windows System Image Manager, use these steps:

  1. Under the “Windows Image” section, expand the Components folder.
  2. Expand the amd64_Microsoft-Windows-International-Core-WinPE component.
  3. Right-click the SetupUILanguage component and select the Add Setting to Pass 1 windowsPE option.

    Setup language

    Source: Windows Central

  4. Under the “Answer File” section, on the right side, select the amd64_Microsoft-Windows-International-Core-WinPE component.
  5. Under the “Settings” section, on the right side, define the keyboard, region, primary and fall back language, and device location. For example, if you’re located in the United States, you should be using these settings:

    • InputLocale: en-US.
    • SystemLocale: en-US.
    • UILanguage: en-US.
    • UserLocale: en-US.

    Langue settings unattended

    Source: Windows Central

    Quick tip: Only users outside the United States should configure ULLanguageFallback using the en-US value as the fallback language. To identify the correct input profile name, you can check out this Microsoft support page.

  6. Select the SetupUILanguage sub-component.
  7. Under the “Settings” section, on the right side, set UILanguage with the correct language. For example, because we’re doing an install in “English,” we’re using the en-US option.

    Configure UILanguage

    Source: Windows Central

Configure installation settings

Inside the answer file, you also have to specify the settings to properly configure the drive.

To configure the drive settings in the answer file, use these steps:

  1. Under the “Windows Image” section, expand the Components folders.
  2. Expand the amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Setup component.
  3. Expand the DiskConfiguration component.
  4. Right-click the Disk component, and select the Add Setting to Pass 1 windowsPE option.

    Disk settings for pass 1

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Under the “Answer File” section, on the right side, select the DiskConfiguration component.
  6. Under the “Settings” section, on the right side, set the WillShowUI value to OnError. (If you leave this setting empty, the installation will stop during the hard drive setup process.)

    WillShowUI

    Source: Windows Central

  7. Select the Disk component.
  8. Under the “Settings” section, on the right side, use these values:

    • DiskID: 0
    • WillWipeDisk: true

    WillWipeDisk

    Source: Windows Central

    Quick note: Setting the WillWipeDik setting to true will make sure to erase everything on the first hard drive before setting up the partitions. If you have anything important on this drive, you should backup the data before proceeding.

Once you complete the steps to configure the DiskConfiguration settings, you’ll need to set up the partition layout, depending on whether your device uses a legacy BIOS or UEFI.

The reason is that BIOS-based computers only require two partitions (System Reserved and Windows), and UEFI-based devices require four partitions (WinRE, EFI, MSR, and Windows).

You can check if you’re using BIOS or UEFI by opening System Information from the Start menu, and checking the “System Summary.” If “BIOS Mode” reads Legacy, then you’re using BIOS; if it reads UEFI, you’re using UEFI.

BIOS only: Creating and modifying partitions

If you have a computer using the legacy BIOS, continue with these steps. Otherwise, skip this part, and follow the UEFI instructions below.

To configure the partition layout for a device using BIOS, use these steps:

  1. Under the “Answer File” section, expand the amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Setup component.
  2. Expand the DiskConfiguration component.
  3. Expand the Disk component.
  4. Right-click the CreatePartitions component, and select the Insert New CreatePartition option to create the first partition.

    Insert new CreatePartition

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Right-click CreatePartitions again, and select the Insert New CreatePartition option to create a second partition.
  6. Select the first CreatePartition.
  7. Under the “Settings” section, on the right side, use these values to create a system reserved partition:

    • Extend: false.
    • Order: 1.
    • Size: 500.
    • Type: Primary.

    First boot partition

    Source: Windows Central

    Using these settings, you’re indicating the setup to create the system reserved partition of 500MB, a partition required for Windows to boot.

  8. Select the second CreatePartition.
  9. Under the “Settings” section, on the right side, use these values to create a partition to install Windows 10:

    • Extend: true.
    • Order: 2.
    • Type: Primary.

    Create Windows 10 boot partition for BIOS

    Source: Windows Central

    Using these settings, you’re indicating the setup to create a partition to install Windows 10. You’ll also notice that the Size value wasn’t specified, and Extend was set to true. This is because we want the Windows Setup to create a partition with all the available space left on the drive after creating the system reserved partition.

    If you want to create multiple partitions, you need to set the value of Extend to false, and enter a value in megabytes in the Size setting. Then the last partition should have Extend set to true without specifying the Size value to indicate the setup to use the remaining available space to create the partition.

Using the above steps, outlined the steps to carved the partitions. The next steps specify the required file format and partition properties.

To specify the format settings in the answer file, use these steps:

  1. Under the “Answer File” section, expand the amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Setup component.
  2. Expand the DiskConfiguration component.
  3. Expand the Disk component.
  4. Right-click the ModifyPartition component, and select the Insert ModifyPartition option to modify the first partition.

    Insert New ModifyParition

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Right-click ModifyPartition again, and select the Insert ModifyPartition option to modify the second partition.
  6. Select the first ModifyPartition.
  7. Under the “Settings” section, on the right side, use these values to configure a system reserved partition:

    • Active: true.
    • Format: NTFS.
    • Label: System.
    • Order: 1.
    • PartitionID: 1.

    BIOS format boot partition

    Source: Windows Central

  8. Select the second ModifyPartition.
  9. Under the “Settings” section, on the right side, use these values to configure a partition to install Windows 10:

    • Format: NTFS.
    • Label: Windows.
    • Letter: C.
    • Order: 2.
    • ProductID: 2.

    BIOS format Windows 10 partition

    Source: Windows Central

In the steps, using the Order and PartitionID, you’re specifying how the Windows Setup should configure on each of the two raw partitions we created earlier.

You can learn more about the partition layout required for a BIOS system in this Microsoft support page.

As part of this setup, the last task is to indicate the setup where to install Windows 10.

To select the drive to install Windows 10 automatically, use these steps:

  1. Under the “Windows Image” section, expand the Components folders.
  2. Expand the amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Setup component.
  3. Expand the ImageInstall component.
  4. Expand the OSImage.
  5. Right-click the InstalTo component, and select the Add Setting to Pass 1 windowsPE option.

    InstallTo pass 1

    Source: Windows Central

  6. Under the “Answer File” section, on the right side, select the InstallTo component.
  7. Under the “Settings” section, on the right side, use these values:

    • DiskID: 0.
    • PartitionID: 2.

    InstallTo settings

    Source: Windows Central

The above settings tell the setup to install Windows 10 automatically on the first drive inside the second partition.

Once you complete the steps, continue with the Defining the product key instructions.

UEFI only: Creating and modifying partitions

If you have a computer using UEFI, continue with these steps. Otherwise, skip this part, and follow the BIOS instructions outlined above.

  1. Under the “Answer File” section, expand the amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Setup component.
  2. Expand the DiskConfiguration component.
  3. Expand the Disk component.
  4. Right-click the CreatePartitions component, and select the Insert New CreatePartition option to create the first partition.

    Insert new CreatePartition for UEFI

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Right-click CreatePartitions again, and select the Insert New CreatePartition option to create a second partition.
  6. Right-click CreatePartitions again, and select the Insert New CreatePartition option to create a third partition.
  7. Right-click CreatePartitions again, and select the Insert New CreatePartition option to create a fourth partition.
  8. Select the first CreatePartition.
  9. Under the “Settings” section, on the right side, use these values to create the Windows Recovery (WinRE) partition:

    • Extend: false.
    • Order: 1.
    • Size: 500.
    • Type: Primary.

    Windows Recovery (WinRE) partition

    Source: Windows Central

  10. Select the second CreatePartition.
  11. On the right side, under “Settings,” use these values to create an EFI partition:

    • Extend: false.
    • Order: 2.
    • Size: 100.
    • Type: EFI.

    EFI partition

    Source: Windows Central

  12. Select the third CreatePartition.
  13. On the right side, under “Settings,” use these values to create a Microsoft reserved partition (MSR) partition:

    • Extend: false.
    • Order: 3.
    • Size: 16.
    • Type: MSR.

    Microsoft reserved partition (MSR) partition

    Source: Windows Central

  14. Select the third CreatePartition.
  15. On the right side, under “Settings,” use these values to create the Windows partition:

    • Extend: true.
    • Order: 4.
    • Type: Primary.

    Windows partition

    Source: Windows Central

Using the above steps, outlined the steps to carved the partitions. The next steps specify the required file format and partition properties.

To specify the format settings in the answer file, use these steps:

  1. Under the “Answer File” section, expand the amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Setup component.
  2. Expand the DiskConfiguration component.
  3. Expand the Disk component.
  4. Right-click the ModifyPartition component, and select the Insert ModifyPartition option to create the first partition.

    Insert ModifyPartition

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Right-click ModifyPartition again, and select the Insert ModifyPartition option to modify the second partition.
  6. Right-click ModifyPartition again, and select the Insert ModifyPartition option to modify the third partition.
  7. Right-click ModifyPartition again, and select the Insert ModifyPartition option to modify the fourth partition.
  8. Select the first ModifyPartition.
  9. On the right side, under “Settings,” use these values to configure the Windows Recovery (WinRE) partition:

    • Format: NTFS.
    • Label: WinRE.
    • Order: 1.
    • PartitionID: 1.
    • TypeID: DE94BBA4-06D1-4D40-A16A-BFD50179D6AC.

    Windows Recovery (WinRE) format

    Source: Windows Central

  10. Select the second ModifyPartition.
  11. On the right side, under “Settings,” use these values to configure an EFI partition:

    • Format: FAT32.
    • Label: System.
    • Order: 2.
    • PartitionID: 2.

    EFI format

    Source: Windows Central

  12. Select the third ModifyPartition.
  13. On the right side, under “Settings,” use only these two values to configure a Microsoft reserved partition (MSR) partition:

    • Order: 3.
    • PartitionID: 3.

    Microsoft reserved partition (MSR) format

    Source: Windows Central

  14. Select the third ModifyPartition.
  15. On the right side, under “Settings,” use these values to configure a partition to install Windows 10:

    • Format: NTFS.
    • Label: Windows.
    • Letter: C.
    • Order: 4.
    • PartitionID: 4.

    Windows 10 partition format

    Source: Windows Central

In the steps, using the Order and PartitionID, you’re specifying how the setup should configure each of the four raw partitions you have created earlier.

You can learn more about the partition layout required for a UEFI system in this Microsoft support page.

As part of this part of the setup, the last task is to indicate the setup where to install Windows 10.

To select the drive to install Windows 10 automatically, use these steps:

  1. Under “Windows Image,” expand the Components folders.
  2. Expand the amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Setup component.
  3. Expand the ImageInstall component.
  4. Expand the OSImage component.
  5. Right-click the InstalTo component, and select the Add Setting to Pass 1 windowsPE option.
  6. Under the “Answer File” section, on the right side, select the InstallTo component.
  7. Under the “Settings” section, on the right side, use these values:

    • DiskID: 0.
    • PartitionID: 4.

    UEFI InstallTo

    Source: Windows Central

The above settings will indicate for the setup to install Windows 10 on the first drive inside the fourth partition.

Once you complete the steps, continue with the Defining the product key instructions below.

Defining the product key

In the first pass, you can also specify the product key for Windows 10. If you’re creating an answer file that you’ll use in multiple devices, you should be using a volume or generic product key.

To specify a product key, use these steps:

  1. Under the “Windows Image” component, expand the Components folders.
  2. Expand the amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Setup component.
  3. Expand the UserData component.
  4. Right-click the ProductKey component and select the Add Setting to Pass 1 windowsPE option.

    ProductKey

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Under the “Answer File” section, on the right side, select the UserData component.
  6. Under the “Settings” section, on the right side, use the following settings:

    • AcceptEula: true.
    • Organization: WC.

    UserData

    Source: Windows Central

    In the above settings, you can use any name for the Organization value. For example, home users could “Family” as the organization name.

  7. Expand the UserData component.
  8. Select the ProductKey component.
  9. Under the “Settings” section, make sure to update the Key value using the product key for the edition of Windows 10 you intend to install.

    Windows 10 product key

    Source: Windows Central

You can also use a generic product key to create an answer file:

  • Windows 10 Pro: VK7JG-NPHTM-C97JM-9MPGT-3V66T.
  • Windows 10 Home: YTMG3-N6DKC-DKB77-7M9GH-8HVX7.
  • Windows 10 Enterprise: NPPR9-FWDCX-D2C8J-H872K-2YT43.

You can always check this Microsoft support website to find the appropriate generic key for your installation.

Pass 4 specialize

If you want to configure additional settings, such as model, manufacturer, computer name, ownership name, timezone, and more during the installation, while in the Windows System Image Manager, use these steps:

  1. Under the “Windows Image” section, expand the Components folders.
  2. Expand the amd64_Microsoft-Shell-Setup component.
  3. Right-click the OEMInformation component and select the Add Setting to Pass 4 specialize option.

    OEMInformation

    Source: Windows Central

  4. Under the “Answer File” section, on the right-side, select the amd64_Microsoft-Shell-Setup component.
  5. Under the “Settings” section, on the right side, use the following values (specifying your custom information):

    If you don’t configure the TimeZone setting, Windows 10 will set the zone based on the language you’re installing. You can check the Microsoft support website to find out the exact name for your time zone.

  6. Expand the amd64_Microsoft-Shell-Setup component.

  7. Select the OEMInformation component.
  8. (Optional) Under the “Settings” section, on the right side, specify some computer specific properties:

    • Manufacturer: Dell.
    • Model: XPS.

    OEMInformation

    Source: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, during the installation, the setup will read the autounattend.xml file and configure the settings you specified.

Pass 7 oobeSystem

Using an answer file, you can also automate the configuration of the out-of-box experience (OOBE), including additional language settings, accept the licensing agreement, create a user account, and more.

To configure the out-of-box experience, while in the Windows System Image Manager, use these steps:

  1. Under “Windows Image,” expand the Components folders.
  2. Right-click the amd64_Microsoft-Windows-International-Core component, and select the Add Setting to Pass 7 oobeSystem option.

    Setting to Pass 7 oobeSystem

    Source: Windows Central

  3. Under the “Windows Image” section, expand the amd64_Microsoft-Shell-Setup component.
  4. Right-click the OOBE component, and select the Add Setting to Pass 7 oobeSystem option.

    OOBE

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Expand the UserAccounts component.
  6. Expand the LocalAccounts component.
  7. Right-click the LocalAccounts component, and select the Add Setting to Pass 7 oobeSystem option.

    LocalAccounts

    Source: Windows Central

  8. Under the “Answer File” section, select the amd64_Microsoft-Windows-International-Core component.
  9. Under the “Settings” section, on the right-side, specify the language settings:

    • InputLocale: en-US.
    • SystemLocale: en-US.
    • UILanguage: en-US.
    • UserLocale: en-US.

    amd64_Microsoft-Windows-International-Core

    Source: Windows Central

    Only users outside the United States should configure ULLanguageFallback using the en-US value as the fallback language.

    To identify the correct input profile name, you can check out this Microsoft support page.

  10. Under the “Answer File” section, expand the amd64_Microsoft-Shell-Setup component.
  11. Select the OOBE component.
  12. Under the “Settings” section, on the right size, use the following values:
  • HideEULAPage: true.*
  • HideOEMRegistrationScreen: true.
  • HideOnlineAccountScreens: true.
  • HideWirelessSetupinOOBE: true.
  • ProtectYourPC: 1.

    OOBE answers

    Source: Windows Central

    While most settings are self-explanatory, you’ll notice that the ProtectYourPC setting is also configured to define how the express settings should be handled. Using the value of 1, you’re telling the setup to enable the express settings using the default preferences.

    1. Expand the UserAccounts component.
    2. Right-click the LocalAccounts component and select the Insert New LocalAccount option.
    3. Under the “Settings” section, on the right side, use the following configuration to create a primary local account:
    • Description: My primary local account.
    • DisplayName: admin.
    • Group: Administrators.
    • Name: John.

    OOBE account answers

    Source: Windows Central

    Using the above settings, you’ll be creating an account called “admin” for user “John,” and we’re adding the account to the “Administrators” group that gives the user unrestricted access to the device. Of course, you can always define your custom preferences, including for “Description,” “DisplayName,” “Group,” and “Name.”

    1. Expand the LocalAccount component.
    2. Select the Password component.
    3. Under the “Settings” section, on the right-side, type a password in the Value field.

    OOBE account password

    Source: Windows Central

While you’ll see the password in plain text, after saving the autounattend.xml file, the value will be encrypted.

How to save Windows 10 answer file project

Once you complete setting up all the configurations to install Windows 10 automatically, you need to remove all the unmodified components, validate the answer file, and save changes as an autounattend.xml file.

Remove unmodified components

To remove unnecessary components, use these steps:

  1. Under the “Answer File” section, expand all the components you added from the “Windows Image” section.
  2. Select the component that you didn’t configure. (These are those with light purple color.)
  3. Right-click the components, and select the Delete option.

    Delete Unmodified Component in Answer File

    Source: Windows Central

  4. Repeat steps No. 2 and 3 until you remove all the components that you didn’t modify.

After you complete the steps, you need to validate the answer file.

Validating answer files

To validate the answer file, use these steps:

  1. Click the Tools menu.
  2. Select the Validate option.
  3. Under the “Messages” section, at the bottom, check the Validation tab. If you don’t see any warnings, the file is good to go.

    Validate answer file

    Source: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, it’s time to save the file and imported to the installation media.

Saving the answer file

To save the answer file, use these steps:

  1. Click the File menu.
  2. Select the Save Answer File As option.
  3. Navigate to the folder you want to save the file.
  4. Under “File name,” use the autounattend.xml file name.

    autounattend.xml

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Click the Save button.

If you’re configuring multiple answer files, it’ll be best to save the file on a different folder with a descriptive name.

Import answer file to USB media

To include an autounattend.xml file on a Windows 10 bootable media, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Navigate to the autounattend.xml file location.
  3. Right-click the file, and select the Copy option.

    Copy autounattend

    Source: Windows Central

  4. Open the USB media with the Windows 10 installation files.
  5. In the root of the drive, right-click the Paste to copy the autounattend.xml to the Windows 10 installation media.

    Paste autounattend file on USB

    Source: Windows Central

    Quick tip: When placing the “autounattend.xml” file on the installation media, make sure you’re using a bootable media that only includes one architecture (in this case, Windows 10 64-bit). If you created an installation media for both 32-bit and 64-bit, the process would pause at the beginning until you select the architecture to install.

In the case that you don’t have a Windows 10 USB installation media, you can create one using the Media Creation Tool or using a third-party tool, such as Rufus.

How to install Windows 10 using answer file

Once you have the USB bootable media with the answer file incorporated, you can perform an unattended installation of Windows 10 with these steps:

Warning: This process will delete everything on your computer and install Windows 10 without any prompts. Make sure to connect the USB flash drive to the correct device. Otherwise, you may end up wiping out the incorrect device.

  1. Turn off the computer you want to install Windows 10.
  2. Connect the USB flash bootable media with the autounattend.xml file.
  3. Power on the computer and then Windows 10 should install automatically.

If the Windows Setup doesn’t start, it’s likely because you don’t have the device configured to boot from the USB installation media. If this is the case, you’ll need to access the BIOS or UEFI firmware on your motherboard to change the boot order.

This process typically requires hitting one of the function keys (F1, F2, F3, F10, or F12), the ESC, or Delete key as soon as you start your device. However, these settings will be different per manufacturer, and even per device model. Make sure to check your computer manufacturer’s support website for more specific instructions.

After getting access to the firmware interface, find the Boot settings and change the boot order to start with the USB drive that includes the installation files, and save the settings (usually using the F10 key).





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