How to customize the default local user profile when you prepare an image of Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows XP, or Windows Server 2003

Article ID: 959753 – Last Review: December 19, 2008 – Revision: 1.0

How to customize the default local user profile when you prepare an image of Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows XP, or Windows Server 2003

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INTRODUCTION

This article discusses how to customize the default local user profile settings when you create an image on a computer that is running one of the following operating systems:

  • Windows Vista
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Server 2003

After you deploy the image, these settings are applied to all new users who log on to the computer.

MORE INFORMATION

The default local user profile

When multiple users log on locally to the same computer, Windows uses the built-in default local user profile as a template to create user profiles for each new user. You can customize this default user profile when you prepare an operating system image. After you deploy the image, all new users on the computer receive the settings that you specify.

Precaution

When you follow the steps in this article, the default local user profile is changed permanently. Therefore, we recommend that you create a backup copy of the default local user profile, in case that you ever want to use it again. The default local user profile files are located in the following folders.

Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008

Drive_Letter: Users Default

Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, U.S. English editions

Drive_Letter: Documents and Settings Default User

Note The Drive_Letter placeholder is the drive on which you installed Windows.

How to customize a default local user profile in Windows Vista or in Windows Server 2008

You can customize the default local user profile by using the following CopyProfile parameter in an Unattend.xml answer file that is passed to the Sysprep.exe tool:

Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup CopyProfile

To do this, follow these steps.

How to use Sysprep to customize a default local user profile

  1. Use the administrator account or an account that has administrative credentials to log on to the computer.
  2. Configure the settings that you want to use in the profile. This includes desktop settings, favorites, and Start menu options.
  3. Create an Unattend.xml file that contains the CopyProfile parameter. This parameter must be set to true in the specialized pass. For example, the parameter must be as follows:
    <CopyProfile>true</CopyProfile>
  4. At a command prompt, type the following command:
    sysprep.exe /generalize /unattend:unattend.xml

    Note You must use the /generalize switch for the CopyProfile parameter to be used.

  5. Capture the image.
  6. Deploy the image.

Notes

  • The built-in administrator account profile is deleted when you perform a clean Windows installation or when you run the Sysprep tool. The CopyProfile setting is processed before the built-in administrator account is deleted. Therefore, any customizations that you make will appear in the new user account profile. This includes the built-in administrator account profile settings.
  • Not all customizations will propagate to new profiles. Some settings are reset by the new user logon process. To configure those settings, use Group Policy settings or scripting.

How to customize the default local user profile in Windows XP or in Windows Server 2003

In Windows XP and in Windows Server 2003, updates that you have installed may change the method that you use to customize the default local user profile. For more information, see the following sections.

Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2)

The default behavior is to automatically copy customizations from the administrator profile to the default user profile. Therefore, no additional steps are required to customize the profile.

Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) or Windows Server 2003 SP2

The default behavior is to automatically copy customizations from the administrator profile to the default user profile. Therefore, no additional steps are required to customize the profile. You can disable this functionality by setting a parameter in the Sysprep.inf file. This parameter prevents the Minisetup process from copying customizations from the administrator profile. To do this, set the parameter in the UNATTENDED section of the Sysprep.inf file as follows:

[UNATTENDED]UpdateServerProfileDirectory=0

Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) or hofix 887816 is applied

Hotfix 887816 disables the automatic copying of customizations. Therefore, you must configure a parameter in the Sysprep.inf file to enable the Minisetup process to copy the customizations from the administrator profile. To do this, set the parameter in the UNATTENDED section, as follows:

[UNATTENDED]UpdateServerProfileDirectory=1

Note Windows XP SP3 includes hotfix 887816.

What to consider when you use Automated Image Build and Deployment Systems

The behavior and the instance when the custom settings are copied to the default user profile have changed in Windows Vista and in Windows Server 2008. Therefore, the location of the setting in the answer file that controls the instance of the profile copy must also be different.

Windows XP or Windows Server 2003

To use this CopyProfile setting in Windows XP SP2 together with hotfix 887816, in Windows XP SP3, or in Windowa Server 2003 SP1, the UpdateServerProfileDirectory setting must be present in the Sysprep.inf file when you run the Sysprep tool. Therefore, when you use automated image build and deployment tools, such as the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit or System Center Configuration Manager, the UpdateServerProfileDirectory setting must be included during the reference image build and capture process.

Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008

In Windows Vista and in Windows Server 2008, the CopyProfile setting must be present during the generalize phase. That is, the CopyProfile setting must be present when the operating system is started for the first time after you have run the Sysprep /generalize command. Therefore, the CopyProfile setting must be set to true in the Unattend.xml file during the image deployment process.

When you are using tools such as the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit or System Center Configuration Manager, the CopyProfile setting is not required when you run the Sysprep command. These tools usually replace or change the Unattend.xml file after the image has been deployed to the disk but before the operating system has started for the first time after you run the Sysprep command. Therefore, the Unattend.xml file that is used in the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit or System Center Configuration Manager deployment process must contain the CopyProfile setting.

Note If you set the CopyProfile setting to true when you run Setup from the Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 installation media during the image build process, the administrator profile settings may be unintentionally copied into the default user profile. The administrator profile settings are typically present in the Install.wim file on the installation media.

REFERENCES

For more information about how to configure default local user profile settings, visit the following Microsoft Web site:

http://blogs.technet.com/deploymentguys/archive/2008/02/18/configuring-default-user-and-computer-settings-for-windows-image-deployment.aspx (http://blogs.technet.com/deploymentguys/archive/2008/02/18/configuring-default-user-and-computer-settings-for-windows-image-deployment.aspx)

APPLIES TO
  • Windows Vista Enterprise
  • Windows Vista Business
  • Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 Standard
Keywords: 
kbsurveynew kbprofiles kbuserprofile kbexpertiseadvanced kbinfo kbhowto KB959753

 

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