WinRE: Capture WinRE in a Windows 8.1 Base Image

Hopefully this post will clear up some confusion about how to make sure that WinRE is in your Windows 8.1 Base Image and how it works

Quick Summary

Don’t mess with anything

Detailed Summary

Let’s get started.  First of all lets get some beginning stuff out of the way

  1. Build on a VM (non UEFI preferred)
  2. Make sure you follow my Partitioning Requirements
  3. Don’t enable PrepareWinRE in CustomSettings.ini

Now you are going to run your Task Sequence from Imported Operating System Media.  Once you start your Task Sequence and the Install Operating System step is complete, WinRE will be located on your OSDisk in Windows\System32\Recovery.  ReAgent.xml will have a bunch of zeroes everywhere, which basically means that it is not enabled.

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Automagically after booting from WinPE into Windows 8.1, WinRE will be enabled and WinRE.wim will no longer be in C:\Windows\System32\Recovery, it will either be on your System Partition (BIOS MBR), your WinRE Tools Partition (GPT UEFI), or your OSDisk in Recovery\WindowsRE.

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This can be validated in C:\Windows\Panther\setupact.log

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This installation happened as part of Unattend processing before your desktop even appeared.

So now you know that WinRE is enabled automatically when you image a computer.  Good.  Now let’s find out what happens at Capture time.

During Sysprep, WinRE.wim will be moved back to C:\Windows\System32\Recovery

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ReAgent.xml will be reset, and WinRE will be disabled.

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Your capture takes place next and what you will have is a Custom WIM with WinRE.wim and ReAgent.xml exactly like it was when you started, ready to repeat the process again during a real OS Deployment.

So again, in summary, don’t mess with it on Windows 8.1 (Windows 7 is different, and I will post that later)