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(1) Whenever a new user is created on a Windows XP SP3 system running Internet Explorer 8, their Favorites folder is automatically populated with a "Microsoft websites" folder and several links in the links toolbar (such as "Customize links", "Free Hotmail", etc.). I cannot accept this behaviour.

(2) Also, a new user gets a email shortcut (which usually defaults to Outlook Express) under their default browser (which is usually Internet Explorer), plus several other shortcuts (such as Windows Media Player), in the Start Menu upon first logon. I can't seem to change this either.

I am in the process of using sysprep to prepare a Windows XP SP3 image for deployment, is there anything I can do to deal with these pesky problems? I've Googled for answers but couldn't find any..... I've also tried to customize my Administrator profile before sysprepping (by removing those pesky Favorites items and fully customizing my Start Menu) and using the UpdateServerProfileDirectory=1 option in sysprep.inf, but nothing helps...

Is there anything I can do? Thanks!!

P.S. Yes, I am aware of the issues of still deploying Windows XP in this day and age. But for factors beyond my control I still need to do it.

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    I got all frothed up and angry about deploying a brand new XP install, but then I read your last sentence. Now you have my sympathy. – Mark Henderson May 22 '14 at 2:43
  • Believe me I am just as frothed up and angry at having to deal with sysprepping Windows XP. Thanks for the sympathy. :) – hpy May 22 '14 at 13:32
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  1. The easiest approach to this is to include a RunOnce task or script to simply delete those favorites from their location in the filesystem under Documents and Settings (after syspreping, of course).

  2. The next easiest approach is to use a Group Policy to strip them (what we do, for the record).

  3. If neither of those is appropriate or workable, the easiest option open to you is to create a custom IE 8 package, using the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK), and place that in your image, instead of the default package which includes those links. The configuration option you're looking for in the IEAK is Do not add Microsoft default content for: Favorites, and while you're at it, you might want to clear the default content for Web Slices and Links and Feeds and Accelerators too.

    • You can download the IEAK for Internet Explorer 8 here.

    • I don't remember how, exactly, the customized packages work under XP, and thankfully don't have a system to test with, but installing the custom package over an existing install may not remove the exist default favorites, forcing you to remove them manually manually once, prior to capturing your image.

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