May 26, 2011 8:53 AM   Subscribe

I need to setup a default profile for all users in Windows 7. PLEASE HELP!

Hi all,

I work in a small IT department and we're currently migrating to Windows 7 on most machines.

On Windows XP setting up a default profile was cake, but after going through multiple conflicting instructions for going about this in Win7 I'm ready to snap!

Could somebody provide the best CURRENT way to do this on Win7 Pro SP1?

Also, being able to include default network printers for all users on a box would be amazing, but my boss is not a fan of scripts or the rights needed to run them.

Thanks in advance!
posted by lattiboy to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Group policy can help with the printers.

IF you show the hidden files there is a default folder that you can place the icons and things in. So combine that with group policy and that should be all that you need.

IF you do not have a windows 2008 domain controller and are using 2003 then you will have to edit the policies on a windows 7 machine with the group policy management program from the rsat tools.
posted by majortom1981 at 11:10 AM on May 26, 2011

The equivalent of "All Users\Start Menu" and "Desktop" are here

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

So you can tweak these.

If you want to set up defaults to programs and the like, you have to start using Sysprep with the CopyProfile=True command, which will copy the local Administrator profile (which you configure) to Default. You need to make sure that you have no other users on the machine, though as it will sometimes rather unhelpfully copy one of these.

Sysprep under Win7 is a very different beast to its XP ancestor, unfortunately, but this KB Article covers what you are after.
posted by nicktf at 1:42 PM on May 26, 2011

Response by poster: Nick,

So I have to download the HUGE AIK pack on every machine I want to do this on? There's no built in structure or workaround on Win7 for these simple changes?

This seems nuts to me....
posted by lattiboy at 4:48 PM on May 26, 2011

Best answer: No, you only need the AIK on one machine, and yes it is nuts! Anyway, the drill is basically

1) Have your base machine, install Win7, log on as local administrator, install and configure your applications
2) On another machine, install the WAIK and tear your hair out trying to figure it out, it's very unintuitive. Use WAIK to generate an XML file which will effectively install Win7 without prompting
3) Copy the XML file to c:\windows\system32\sysprep on your base machine
4) In an elevated console, from the above directory, run sysprep /oobe /generalize /shutdown /unattend:[name]xml
5) At this point, copy the drive with your favorite imaging tool. I use WinPE and Imagex to create a .WIM file as they are easy to mount and work on.

Note - you only need the WAIK to generate the XML file - you can find numerous examples on the Web and use\tweak one of those

I strongly recommend you test your Sysprep skills in a VM, and snapshot before running the sysprep command. It has an annoying habit of dying permanently during setup if it encounters a line in the XML file it doesn't like.

Another caveat is you can only sysprep an image three times, so how do you keep your master up to date? You have to either maintain two images - a Master, which you never sysprep (you capture it before running Sysprep, then capture your "live" image after), or you run the sysprep after deploying the master image to each machine (you need to fix the boot record each time, and can run into issues if your target hardware has different ATA drivers.)

There's a school of thought that says Sysprep is an irrelevance, and I've certainly found that provided you rename and join a domain each time, identically cloned machines will play happily together.

Although I knock it, AIK is very powerful and once you get your head around it, does what it needs to do very well. Customizing the user is definitely an afterthought though. I would look to system policies to achieve as much of this as possible. I'd also be tempted to configure an account and copy the NTUSER.DAT + folders into the c:\users\default directory and see what happens...
posted by nicktf at 9:14 AM on May 27, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the answer very detailed answer.

I'll never understand how NONE of the Pro versions of Windows have any customization options for a default profile and network printer setup. Have they ever been to a company that actually uses their products?!?!?!
posted by lattiboy at 4:21 PM on May 27, 2011

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