Update on Win2K12 templates – not what I expected!

Hi all,

Sorry about this whole situation – I am not impressed.  But I think I have figured it out.  Deploying Win2K12 from template is tricky, and I thought I found out a way to do it and it was not good.  I mean it worked sometimes but not always.  So I pulled my article on how to do it.

But now, I know more and have figured out the situation.  To make it short there is two ways to successfully deploy a customized Win2K12 template.

  1. The obvious way is to do no manual customization in the OS but rather have the VM join a domain, and use the GPO to customize the VM.  Than remove it from AD and deploy it normally – with no extra sysprep or CopyProfile stuff.  Than when it is done and people log in they will get the customization pushed down as required by Active Directory.  If you want templates with some sort of basic config this is not good.  Plus, if you have things like BgInfo that is not in an MSI it gets harder to push that out.
  2. This second way is likely the best way but it is different.  First, you need an unattended.xml file with all of the configuration info in it that covers off all of the questions that the VMware Customization Specification Wizard normally asks – except for network.  To this you add the <CopyProfile>true</CopyProfile> parameter.  Now you customize your template the way you would – even add apps like BgInfo or Acrobat.  Next you import that XML file into the Customization Specification tool and deploy your VM from the template as per normal using that new customization specification and you should be good to go.

I share this so you know what has taken me so long, and so you know that there is possibly a good answer out of this.  I will try to document both options as quick – partially to help you out, but also plus catch any other issues!  But in the meantime I hope that this info above helps.


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2 thoughts on “Update on Win2K12 templates – not what I expected!

  1. Michael, I have invested considerable development time into this problem and I’ve come up with a pretty simple solution that works every time, at least for me. These are the basic steps:

    1.) Create your W2K12 VM as you would normally and make any profile customizations you want to the local administrator account. Do NOT join to the domain. Install any apps, make any system settings you want.

    2.) I use the Profile Manager program from ForensiT (free trial available) to copy the administrator as the default profile. It can be uninstalled after the profile is copied as the default.

    3.) Since I have many target networks I have to deploy the template, I create a customization spec for every network (btw, it would be GREAT if the Customization Specification Manager allowed you to create folders to organize customization specs) and set the NIC profile with the gateway and subnet mask. I then put in credentials to join to a domain.

    4.) I use run-once commands to connect to a network share once the VM is joined to the domain and booted. I created a BAT file that does all the final provisioning (with apps that are installation-specific and create UUIDs at installation time like management agents).

    5.) Once all is said and done, I deploy a template as a VM to a target network and the only two pieces of information I have to set manually are to type the static IP I want, and edit the VM hardware configuration to join it to the right vDS port group.

    Works every time without issue.

  2. Thanks for this Chip, I will be sure to add your info to my testing and documentation. Sounds like you have a great process. The Profile Manger thing appears to be a big help.


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