Windows 7 Sysprep is very problematic and extremely slow. I recommend not using it by configuring the setting Patrick described. As of VCL 2.2.1, you should only have to do this for bare-metal images. Sysprep will be disabled for all VMware image captures as of VCL 2.2.1.

The Unattend.xml file is a chore to configure. The file included with VCL has been configured using Windows 7 Enterprise. It may fail if other variants are used.

NC State has been moving away from using Win7/2008 Sysprep wherever possible. We have removed access to our bare-metal Win7 base images, only allowing users to create VMware Win7 images. We have also converted some existing Windows 7 bare-metal images which had been using Sysprep to VM images using the VMware Converter utility.


On 3/28/2011 12:07 PM, James Patrick Sigmon wrote:
Issue Resolved. Be sure when going through the image capture process for
a Windows 7 image that "Use sysprep" under "Advanced Options" is set to

On Mar 24, 2011, at 1:16 AM, James Patrick Sigmon wrote:

Hey Gerhard,

Thanks for the info. My OS is the Ultimate Edition and is 64 bit. So I
made the following changes to the file:

<component name="Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup"
processorArchitecture="x64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35"
language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS"
<TimeZone>Eastern Standard Time</TimeZone>

However, I'm still having the same issue, but the message has slightly

Windows could not parse or process unattend answer file
[C:\Windows\Panther\unattend.xml] for pass [specialize]. The answer
file is invalid.

Can you think of what else I might need to change?

Thanks again,


On Mar 23, 2011, at 2:59 PM, Hartl, Gerhard L. wrote:

VCL 2.2 does use a unattend.xml for sysprep. It is located at

Are you imaging Win7 x64 or x86? What version? Enterprise, Pro,
Ultimate, etc? The key provided is for the Enterprise edition and
would fail if you are trying to create a Win 7 Pro image. Also the
processorArchitecture must equal the architecture you are trying to

This is the section that is apparently your issue:

<component name="Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup"
processorArchitecture="x86" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35"
language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS"
- <Display>
<TimeZone>Eastern Standard Time</TimeZone>

- Gerhard
Old Dominion University

-----Original Message-----
From: Alexander Patterson []
Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 2:20 PM
To: <>
Subject: Re: windows 7 sysprep???

Hello Patrick,

Windows 7 doesn't use sysprep. This is only used in Windows XP.

Check in your php table under Imagemeta for your Windows 7 image id #
that your using that sysprep is set to 0 then give that a try.

For example

Your Image Id =6
CheckUser =1
Subimage = 1
Sysprep = 0


On Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 11:14 AM, James Patrick Sigmon
< <>> wrote:
Hey Guys,

I've run into a problem with captured windows 7 images. They seem to
capture fine, but when you make a reservation for them they time out
at the "ssh step." Looking at the console, I can see why. There is a
pop-up box that reads:

"Windows could not parse or process the unattended answer file for
pass [specialize]. The settings specified in the answer file cannot
be applied. The error was detected while processing settings for
component [Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup].

I've been frantically searching for a generic answer to this, and it
sounds like to could be a sysprep issue, however, the image is a
virtual machine.

I'm still searching for solutions on my own, but I thought it would
be best to go ahead and post this issue as our pilot went live and
I'm trying to figure this out ASAP.

Any help is much appreciated,

-Patrick Sigmon

Alex Patterson
User Support Services
Operating System Analyst
California State University, East Bay

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