Invalid product ID key causes Win2K8 to reboot repeatedly during deployment

Hello all,

I had to do a test last night, and I had some problems deploying a new virtual machine from my template.  The error was during the sysprep phase and was

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]

A search on the Internet very quickly finds this.  The VMware KB confirms that this is an issue where I have used an invalid product ID key.

When I left VMware I got rid of the software serial numbers / PID  that I had that were VMware related.  So things like Microsoft serial numbers from MSDN were gone.  I had a new MSDN account, and new serial numbers but nevertheless I got this error.  As many of us know, PID are good for specific ‘builds’ of an OS.  In my case it was Win2K8R2 and I was using the build that used to work with my old PID.  I used a different Win2K8R2 template (and deleted the first one) and everything worked now.  The template that worked was built with an ISO from my new MSDN.  Build is not the right word here but I hope it makes sense.

It got me thinking more about templates though.  They are super useful and I am suprised at how they are sometimes not used much.  Even on a few ocassions not used at all.  At one customer I visited they were not used but there was a good reason, the customer had a better way of doing things so that was pretty cool.  But generally they are not used as much or as well as I think they should be.  So I thought I would do something on helping out with templates.  You will see that shortly.


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