Solved Unattend.xml Missing on Booting.


harshkapadia

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17
Location
Austin, Texas, USA
OS
Windows 11
Hello,

I have been trying to create an unattended install of Windows 11 Pro in VMs, but have been unable to do it. Instead of auto-installing Windows, I always get directed to the usual first language selection screen. There are no errors in setuperr.log and is empty. I place the Unattend.xml file in the Windows\Panther directory, but when I check for the Panther directory after the unattended install fails, I am not able to locate the file. That makes me think that the directory was never added to the ISO, but I might be completely wrong. Does anyone know why this might be happening and why my install is not working? Thank you!

Unattend.xml

XML:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend">
    <settings pass="windowsPE">
        <component name="Microsoft-Windows-International-Core-WinPE" processorArchitecture="wow64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
            <SetupUILanguage>
                <UILanguage>en-US</UILanguage>
            </SetupUILanguage>
            <InputLocale>en-US</InputLocale>
            <SystemLocale>en-US</SystemLocale>
            <UILanguage>en-US</UILanguage>
            <UserLocale>en-US</UserLocale>
        </component>
        <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Setup" processorArchitecture="wow64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
            <DiskConfiguration>
                <Disk wcm:action="add">
                    <CreatePartitions>
                        <CreatePartition wcm:action="add">
                            <Order>1</Order>
                            <Type>Primary</Type>
                            <Size>500</Size>
                        </CreatePartition>
                        <CreatePartition wcm:action="add">
                            <Order>2</Order>
                            <Size>100</Size>
                            <Type>EFI</Type>
                        </CreatePartition>
                        <CreatePartition wcm:action="add">
                            <Order>3</Order>
                            <Size>128</Size>
                            <Type>MSR</Type>
                        </CreatePartition>
                        <CreatePartition wcm:action="add">
                            <Order>4</Order>
                            <Extend>true</Extend>
                            <Type>Primary</Type>
                        </CreatePartition>
                    </CreatePartitions>
                    <ModifyPartitions>
                        <ModifyPartition wcm:action="add">
                            <Order>1</Order>
                            <PartitionID>1</PartitionID>
                            <TypeID>DE94BBA4-06D1-4D40-A16A-BFD50179D6AC</TypeID>
                            <Format>NTFS</Format>
                            <Label>WinRE</Label>
                        </ModifyPartition>
                        <ModifyPartition wcm:action="add">
                            <Format>FAT32</Format>
                            <Label>System</Label>
                            <Order>2</Order>
                            <PartitionID>2</PartitionID>
                        </ModifyPartition>
                        <ModifyPartition wcm:action="add">
                            <PartitionID>3</PartitionID>
                            <Order>3</Order>
                        </ModifyPartition>
                        <ModifyPartition wcm:action="add">
                            <Order>4</Order>
                            <Letter>C</Letter>
                            <PartitionID>4</PartitionID>
                            <Label>Windows</Label>
                            <Format>NTFS</Format>
                        </ModifyPartition>
                    </ModifyPartitions>
                    <DiskID>0</DiskID>
                    <WillWipeDisk>true</WillWipeDisk>
                </Disk>
                <WillShowUI>OnError</WillShowUI>
            </DiskConfiguration>
            <ImageInstall>
                <OSImage>
                    <InstallTo>
                        <DiskID>0</DiskID>
                        <PartitionID>4</PartitionID>
                    </InstallTo>
                    <WillShowUI>OnError</WillShowUI>
                </OSImage>
            </ImageInstall>
            <UserData>
                <ProductKey>
                    <Key>W269N-WFGWX-YVC9B-4J6C9-T83GX</Key>
                    <WillShowUI>Never</WillShowUI>
                </ProductKey>
                <AcceptEula>true</AcceptEula>
                <FullName>test</FullName>
                <Organization>test</Organization>
            </UserData>
        </component>
    </settings>
    <settings pass="offlineServicing">
        <component name="Microsoft-Windows-LUA-Settings" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
            <EnableLUA>false</EnableLUA>
        </component>
    </settings>
    <settings pass="generalize">
        <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Security-SPP" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
            <SkipRearm>1</SkipRearm>
        </component>
    </settings>
    <settings pass="specialize">
        <component name="Microsoft-Windows-International-Core" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
            <InputLocale>en-US</InputLocale>
            <SystemLocale>en-US</SystemLocale>
            <UILanguage>en-US</UILanguage>
            <UserLocale>en-US</UserLocale>
        </component>
        <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Security-SPP-UX" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
            <SkipAutoActivation>true</SkipAutoActivation>
        </component>
        <component name="Microsoft-Windows-SQMApi" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
            <CEIPEnabled>0</CEIPEnabled>
        </component>
        <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
            <ComputerName>test123</ComputerName>
            <ProductKey>W269N-WFGWX-YVC9B-4J6C9-T83GX</ProductKey>
        </component>
    </settings>
    <settings pass="oobeSystem">
        <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
            <AutoLogon>
                <Password>
                    <Value>abc</Value>
                    <PlainText>false</PlainText>
                </Password>
                <Username>test</Username>
                <Enabled>false</Enabled>
            </AutoLogon>
            <OOBE>
                <VMModeOptimizations>
                    <SkipAdministratorProfileRemoval>false</SkipAdministratorProfileRemoval>
                </VMModeOptimizations>
                <HideEULAPage>true</HideEULAPage>
                <HideOEMRegistrationScreen>true</HideOEMRegistrationScreen>
                <HideOnlineAccountScreens>true</HideOnlineAccountScreens>
                <HideWirelessSetupInOOBE>true</HideWirelessSetupInOOBE>
                <ProtectYourPC>3</ProtectYourPC>
                <UnattendEnableRetailDemo>false</UnattendEnableRetailDemo>
                <HideLocalAccountScreen>true</HideLocalAccountScreen>
            </OOBE>
            <UserAccounts>
                <LocalAccounts>
                    <LocalAccount wcm:action="add">
                        <Password>
                            <Value>abc</Value>
                            <PlainText>false</PlainText>
                        </Password>
                        <Description>Primary Local Account</Description>
                        <DisplayName>test</DisplayName>
                        <Group>Administrators</Group>
                        <Name>test</Name>
                    </LocalAccount>
                </LocalAccounts>
            </UserAccounts>
        </component>
        <component name="Microsoft-Windows-International-Core" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
            <InputLocale>en-US</InputLocale>
            <SystemLocale>en-US</SystemLocale>
            <UILanguage>en-US</UILanguage>
            <UserLocale>en-US</UserLocale>
        </component>
    </settings>
    <cpi:offlineImage cpi:source="wim:c:/users/testing/downloads/windows-iso-files/win11_23h2_english_x64v2-2/sources/install.wim#Windows 11 Pro" xmlns:cpi="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:cpi" />
</unattend>

Compile commands:

Get-WindowsImage -ImagePath C:\Users\testing\Downloads\windows-iso-files\Win11_23H2_English_x64v2-9\sources\install.wim | Format-Table ImageIndex, ImageName

Mount-WindowsImage -ImagePath C:\Users\testing\Downloads\windows-iso-files\Win11_23H2_English_x64v2-9\sources\install.wim -Index 6 -Path C:\Users\testing\Downloads\windows-iso-files\mount-dir-9

Dismount-WindowsImage -Path C:\Users\testing\Downloads\windows-iso-files\mount-dir-9 -Save

oscdimg.exe -m -o -pEF -u1 -udfver102 -bC:\Users\testing\Downloads\windows-iso-files\Win11_23H2_English_x64v2\efi\microsoft\boot\efisys.bin C:\Users\testing\Downloads\windows-iso-files\Win11_23H2_English_x64v2 C:\Users\testing\Downloads\windows-iso-files\unattended-iso\windows11-unattended-2.iso

I then boot this using virt-manager (KVM/QEMU) and face the issue I mentioned above.

Thank you!
 
Last edited:

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Vostro
By the "first language selection screen", you're talking about WinPE Setup?

The answer file is normally placed as \autounattend.xml on the ISO's root folder. Unattend files can be copied to \Windows\Panther, but for a clean install it's normally \autounattend.xml. There's a long hierarchy of search paths where Setup looks for the answer file (by name), and different reasons for doing so. But for most cases, use autounattend.xml.

Copy this file to "C:\Users\testing\Downloads\windows-iso-files\Win11_23H2_English_x64v2", before running oscdimg.exe.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 7
I'd like to just add to what Garlin has already noted. First, I would like to suggest looking at this tutorial from @Kari. If you follow this tutorial precisely implementing the exceptions that I note below, I guarantee that you will have a fully functional, completely automated Windows installation.:


Note that this tutorial is geared toward creating a reference system and creating a customized Windows image using that fully configured reference system. That process involves creating two answer files, an autounattend.xml and an unattend.xml. I know that in your case you simply wish to perform an unattended installation and not create a new customized image. As a result, all you need is the autounattend.xml answer file. As you review that tutorial, simply make the following changes (this will actually make the process easier than it is in the tutorial):

1) Follow the steps in the tutorial for creating the first answer file (autounattend.xml). You should complete all steps through and including 3.18 with one exception; do NOT create a reference system. You will not need it (big time saver!).

2) After completing through 3.18, jump to step 4.2. Normally, you would be adding the components listed starting in this step to a second answer file (unattend.xml). Instead, you will now simply continue to add these components to the first answer file (autounattend.xml) that you have been working on up until now.

As you continue through the steps in the tutorial, please note the following exceptions:

In step 4.3, Skip the "CopyProfile" entry. You only use this in the unattend.xml answer file. Skip this entry for the autounattend.xml answer file.

If you do decide to set the optional "Logo" value in step 4.4, be aware that you will manually need to copy the logo bitmap image to the system manually after installation. Normally this file would be placed on the sysprep image but since you are not using a sysprep image the file will need to be copied to C:\Windows\System32\oemlogo.bmp manually if you elect to use this.

3) Continue through and including step 4.8. After completing step 4.8, jump back to step 3.19 to validate and save your answer file.

4) After completing section 3, Copy your now completed autounattend.xml file to the ISO_Files folder (described in step 2.2 of the tutorial). Jump to step 8.1 of the tutorial to create your final install media.

If you have any questions at all, please do let me know.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Win11 Pro 23H2
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Home Built
    CPU
    Intel i7-11700K
    Motherboard
    ASUS Prime Z590-A
    Memory
    128GB Crucial Ballistix 3200MHz DRAM
    Graphics Card(s)
    No GPU - CPU graphics only (for now)
    Sound Card
    Realtek (on motherboard)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    HP Envy 32
    Screen Resolution
    2560 x 1440
    Hard Drives
    1 x 1TB NVMe Gen 4 x 4 SSD
    1 x 2TB NVMe Gen 3 x 4 SSD
    2 x 512GB 2.5" SSDs
    2 x 8TB HD
    PSU
    Corsair HX850i
    Case
    Corsair iCue 5000X RGB
    Cooling
    Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black cooler + 10 case fans
    Keyboard
    CODE backlit mechanical keyboard
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    1Gb Up / 1 Gb Down
    Browser
    Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Additional options installed:
    WiFi 6E PCIe adapter
    ASUS ThunderboltEX 4 PCIe adapter
  • Operating System
    Win11 Pro 23H2
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo ThinkBook 13x Gen 2
    CPU
    Intel i7-1255U
    Memory
    16 GB
    Graphics card(s)
    Intel Iris Xe Graphics
    Sound Card
    Realtek® ALC3306-CG codec
    Monitor(s) Displays
    13.3-inch IPS Display
    Screen Resolution
    WQXGA (2560 x 1600)
    Hard Drives
    2 TB 4 x 4 NVMe SSD
    PSU
    USB-C / Thunderbolt 4 Power / Charging
    Mouse
    Buttonless Glass Precision Touchpad
    Keyboard
    Backlit, spill resistant keyboard
    Internet Speed
    1Gb Up / 1Gb Down
    Browser
    Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    WiFi 6e / Bluetooth 5.1 / Facial Recognition / Fingerprint Sensor / ToF (Time of Flight) Human Presence Sensor
Hello,
A great invention by @hsehestedt , find XML zip folder attached herewith , which has 7 different answer files.
Please refer to this link by @hsehestedt
Thanks.
 

Attachments

  • XML.zip
    18.4 KB · Views: 5

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Window 11 v24H2 Build 26085.1
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    ASSEMMBLED
    CPU
    Intel Pentium CPU G620@ 2.60 GHz
    Motherboard
    DAICHI
    Memory
    6 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Onboard
    Sound Card
    Onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    LG
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768
    Hard Drives
    Toshiba HDD 1 TB
    Keyboard
    Mechanical
    Mouse
    Mechanical
    Internet Speed
    700 kb/s
    Browser
    Microsoft EDGE, CHROME
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Defender
Thank you all so much for all the help! I had been struggling with this for quite some time.

Just renaming the file to autounattend.xml and placing it at the root of the ISO resolved the issue, without having to mount the ISO or anything like that.

I don't think Microsoft's documentation is very clear about the autounattend.xml file. They only keep talking about the Unattend.xml file and the Panther directory everywhere.

I have now been facing issues with a ProductKey element in the autounattend.xml file that I wasn't able to figure out and so I started another thread for that. I would be grateful if anyone could help.


Thank you!
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Vostro
I saw that doc and read it. It still didn't help me understand that if I want an unattended install, I need to name the file autounattend.xml, not unattend.xml and should place the file in the root directory, not in the Windows\Panther directory.

I also couldn't find a doc that told me that I don't need to mount the ISO and stuff as well. It was quite a frustrating process to figure things out.

I still don't understand the difference between unattend.xml and autounattend.xml.

Also, why does placing the unattend.xml file in the Windows\Panther directory after mounting not work, but then placing the same file renamed to autounattend.xml in the root directory without mounting work? In my opinion, there should be some documentation explaining stuff like that. I'm sorry if such documentation exists and I just never found it.

Thank you for your help regardless. I really appreciate it!
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Vostro
There are many supported scenarios for finding answer files, mostly for the IT professional who's creating an automated deployment process.

Depending on how WinPE is booted (locally, network) and where the install image is provided (locally, network), it may make sense to place the answer in one of the search paths. The reason being if someone needed to override that search order, they could insert a higher ranked file ahead of the normal one. For example every PC installs the same, but we have a few exceptions. Those I can temporarily use a different file rather than rebuild my setup.

It's unattend.xml or autounattend.xml, depending where you expect it to be found.

For 90% of the time everyone uses \autounattend.xml, and \Panther\unattend.xml can be used for a per-image instance (where it's deployed inside an image, and another image doesn't get it). In that case, the Panther version overrides the \autounattend.xml because of the search order. If you're not involving a set of remote servers to perform your image, most of the valid reasons for learning the differences become less important to learn.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 7

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