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July 15, 2009

Vista 70-622 MCTS Exam Prep: Installations and Updates


We’ve been taking a closer look at MCTS Exam 70-622 — Supporting and Troubleshooting Applications on a Windows Vista Client for Enterprise Support Technicians.

We have already tackled the 70-622 certification requirements and taken a closer look at the first skill needed for the exam: Deploying Windows Vista.

I gave you detailed information on how to analyze the business environment and select an appropriate deployment method, so today we’ll move on to how to prepare a system for clean installations or upgrades.

In case you haven’t already, please review these two posts before moving on to the rest of this article.

MCTS 70-622 Skills Measured

As I mentioned before, exam 70-622 measures a number of different skills and the first section of topics for the exam, Deploying Windows Vista, encompasses the following:

  • Analyze the business environment and select an appropriate deployment method
  • Prepare a system for clean installation or upgrade
  • Deploy Windows Vista from a custom image
  • Perform post-installation tasks
  • Troubleshoot deployment issues

With respect to Prepare a system for clean installation or upgrade subsection you’ll need to make sure that you understand some of the details around the following topics and tools that will help you in preparing a system for clean installation or upgrade.

Additionally, these tools can be used to assist in deploying Windows Vista from a custom image as well as performing post installation steps — all three of these items are part of the skills that are measured on exam 70-622.

The main topics and tools to review include:

  • WIM files
  • Windows PE 2.0 (Windows Pre-installation Environment)
  • Additional tools that you can leverage in the WinPE from System32
    • Drvload
    • Wdscapture
    • Wpeutil
  • Additional tools that are available through the WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit)
    • Oscdimg
    • PEimg
    • BCDedit

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] – Below I’ll be discussing WIM files and Windows PE 2.0 in more detail, but here’s where you can get more information on WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit) and the AIK (Automated Installation Kit).

Additional tools to be aware of include:

  • ImageX
  • Windows System Image Manager (SIM)
  • User State Migration Tool 3.0
  • Application Compatibility Tool Kit
  • Sysprep
  • Business Desktop Deployment (BDD)
  • Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

What You Need to Know About WIM Files

WIM files are a new part of the install for Windows Operating systems that was introduced with the release of Windows Vista.

The structure of WIM files generally contains six types of data:

  • Header information
  • file resource details
  • metadata resource details
  • lookup table information
  • XML data
  • integrity table

The WIM image format is file-based rather than sector-based which allows for many benefits:

  • The WIM image format is hardware-agnostic — only a single imaged is needed for different hardware configurations.
  • Using the WIM image format allows you to store multiple images within one actual file. One example is the multiple different versions of Windows available on the installation DVD – they are all there within the WIM file; you just need the correct key to complete the install and activate the product.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] – You can find the install WIM file in the CD DRIVE:\Sources directory along with all the catalog (.clg) files for the different Editions of Windows. See Understanding Windows Image Files and Catalog Files for additional information.

70-622 MCTS Exam Prep: Preparing for Installations and Upgrades

  • You can also leverage the WIM image format to store corporate / enterprise images with and without core applications in a single image file.
  • You can start a computer from a disk image contained in a WIM file if the image has been marked as bootable.
  • The WIM image format enables compression and single instancing which reduces the size of image files significantly. Windows PE 2.0 for Windows Vista Overview has some additional details regarding single instancing.
  • Offline image servicing is available in the WIM image format. This allows you to add or delete some operating system components, software patches, updates and drivers without forcing you to create an entirely new image.
  • Leveraging the WIM image format allows for installations of the image on partitions of any size. Sector-based imaging requires that deployments are set to a partition the same size or larger than the source disk.
  • Deploying the WIM image format can be done non-destructively; you can leave data on the volume where the image will be installed because deploying the image will not overwrite the existing contents of the volume.

Windows PE 2.0 (Windows Pre-installation Environment)

The Windows PE 2.0 (Windows Pre-installation Environment) is a bootable tool that provides operating system features for installation, troubleshooting, and recovery.

Windows PE is the environment that is presented to you when you run the Windows Vista installation routine (basically any time you boot from the DVD – that is WinPE). The WinPE environment was built so that it can be customized — so that non-traditional deployment needs can be met.

Windows PE can also be used for troubleshooting systems when they no longer start correctly or for when repairs of a system build need to be attempted under the Windows Recovery Environment.

Complete system recovery is available under Windows PE either from the original installation environment (DVD or network share) or from images that are available on a recovery partition on the local hard drive.

A scenario like that allows end users to start their computers from the WinPE environment to automatically reformat their volume and re-install Vista with the original drivers, settings, and applications in an effort to “reset” or recover their system from the original configuration when it was first purchased. You might often find this as an available option from the larger ISVs that build consumer PCs like Dell, HP and others.

While WinPE does start from the DVD, once it is fully up and running it does so directly in memory in a portion of space leveraged as a RAM Disk (usually assigned a drive letter of X:\). Once it is going to no longer even need the disk in the DVD drive and it can be removed, if you need to supply additional disks for drivers and other installs or updates.

Additional tools that you can leverage in the WinPE from System32:

  • Drvload – adds out-of-box drivers to a booted Windows PE image via driver.inf files as referenced.
  • Wdscapture – allows you to capture an operating system that has been prepared with Sysprep into .wim file
  • Wpeutil – command-line tool that enables you to run various commands in a Windows PE session.

Additional tools that are available through the WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit):

  • Oscdimg – used to create an image file (.iso) of a customized 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows PE. You can then burn that .iso file to a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM and it supports ISO 9660, Joliet, and Universal Disk Format (UDF) file systems.
  • PEimg – used for creating and modifying Windows PE 2.0 images offline
  • BCDedit – can be used to add, delete, edit, and modify data in the boot configuration data (BCD) store and replaces what used to be available in the Boot.ini file. Additional information on these changes can be found in the BCD Boot Options Reference where there is a table that reflects what was configurable before in the Boot.ini file and how you now do it under BCDedit.

You do need to make sure you have at least an understanding of these tools for the exam. If you follow each of the links above, the additional information there should help you with accomplishing that.

And always feel free to ask questions in the comments if you need further explanation on anything.

Best of luck in your studies.

About the Author

is a Senior Technical Account Manager at Microsoft Corporation. He has worked as a technical trainer and consultant for a variety of corporate clients in Connecticut over the past ten years. He also has written a number of CompTIA and Microsoft prep tests for Boson Software as well as a number of published articles for,, and Certification Magazine. His professional CompTIA certifications include: A+ Certified Technician, I-Net+ Certified Technician, Server+ Certified Technician, Network+ Certified Technician, and Security+ Certified Professional. His professional Microsoft certifications include: MCT, MCP, MCP+I, MCSA, MCSA: Security, and MCSE.