How to customize a default user profile in Windows 7. Part of a continuing SteadyState-replacement saga.
November 16, 2011 11:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to customize a default user profile in Windows 7 professional, with the intent of using it to create a mandatory profile. Microsoft requires the use of Sysprep. I am but an intern, and Sysprep confuses me. I can't get Sysprep to run with the command-line switches I need. The SteadyState replacement saga continues...

The company I'm interning at has put me in charge of figuring out how to replace Microsoft's Steady State software, given that they will not be releasing a version for Windows 7.

Most of SteadyState's functionality can be replaced with Group Policy Objects. One major exception is the ability to revert a user profile back to its original condition when the user logs off. This ability is essential to library/kiosk-style machines.

To create a custom profile, one cannot use the workaround commonly used in XP, simply copying a user profile to the default profile. The button to do so is grayed out.

Microsoft requires you to log on to a technician machine and configure a local admin account to what you want the default profile to be. Then, create an Unattend.xml file containing a CopyProfile parameter set to "true". Then, run sysprep with the /generalize switch. The CopyProfile parameter will cause the currently logged-on user profile to be copied to the default profile.

The eventual goal is to make this default profile a mandatory profile. But I'll cross that bridge when the time comes.

Microsoft recommends you use the Windows System Image Manager (Part of the Windows AIK) to create the Unattend.xml file. My problem is that when I open the Image Manager it wants me to specify a Windows image on which to base the Unattend.xml file. I have no image, just the OS I'm trying to put a custom profile onto. I feel like I'm missing the obvious here.

Here is the relevant Microsoft technet link

And a link to a forum demonstrating the rage resulting from this confusing procedure.
posted by UrbanEye to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This not an answer but...

posted by dgeiser13 at 11:55 AM on November 16, 2011

You can copy an user profile to the default profile. There are utilities out there that claim to enable the grayed-out button, but it didn't work for me.

Prep the profile you're going to copy. Clear histories, all that. Log into the computer as another admin user. Change the view settings in explorer to show hidden files and unhide system files. Then go to C:\Users and rename C:\Users\Default to C:\Users\Default.old. Then copy and paste the profile you want to be the default, after the copy is complete rename to C:\Users\Default. Check to make sure that the proper rights are applied to the new Default directory, they usually are.

There is a bug in Windows 7 that kills the wallpaper once you login as any new user. They'll get a black background. I've found that after a few subsequent logins by the same user, the correct wallpaper will appear.
posted by narcoleptic at 12:33 PM on November 16, 2011

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