I have a Windows 7 image I created using WDS that works great. However I'd like to put this image on a PC, run updates and add some software, and then capture it again for use in the future. I can deploy the image to a machine without a problem, but it activates the copy of windows.

Isn't there a way to use the skiprearm parameter to tell it not to activate windows when I sysprep it again? I'm kind of confused how it works even after reading about it.

Do I need to deploy the image as it is, then make the updates/changes, then sysprep and capture again? Where does skiprearm come into play? During sysprep?

(Or should I just move to MDT, I've heard it's a lot easier and better =D )

Thank you!


Is there a reason in particular that you don't want activation to occur? Skiprearm is used to ensure that you don't burn up your two rearm attempts while configuring your image with multiple syspreps. It does NOT pause activation. By design, Windows 7 is configured to automatically attempt activation when it online. If it is not able to activate, it will give you a system tray notification for 30 days before it is locked out and needs to be activated/rearmed.

If you don't want your install to try to automatically activate with Microsoft, I would suggest sysprepping the image with the KMS client key (Windows 7 Enterprise has this key loaded by default). This key will look for a KMS server, and if it's not there, the machine will not activate.

  • To clarify, if you DO have KMS, then you should still do it this way. KMS counts cannot be used for license counts, because computers continuously check in. As long as you have a license that covers development (i.e. Technet or MSDN) the development machine does not count against your enterprise license count and can be safely activated (and re-activated). – newmanth Jul 21 '11 at 16:44
  • I have a MAK, but not a KMS client key. I think I worded my problem wrong, I want to make sure I DON'T use any rearm attempts while configuring this image and sysprepping it. – ItsPronounced Jul 21 '11 at 16:47
  • So skiprearm just resets the number of syspreps I can do on an image? So I'll need to do it before capturing my final image right? – ItsPronounced Jul 21 '11 at 17:04
  • Yes, be sure to skiprearm when sysprepping to ensure you don't use your rearm attempts, including your final sysprep. There is no limit to the number of syspreps you can do (though I have heard anecdotally that the image starts getting weird if you sysprep too many times). I normally keep a clean image that has been syspreped maybe one or two times to do further work on. In my original answer, I included a hyperlink in the term "KMS client key" that takes you to the Technet page with all of the KMS client keys (sorry, ServerFault uses a weird color scheme that makes hyperlinks hard to see) – newmanth Jul 21 '11 at 17:11

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