Starting up Windows 7 from scratch (twice)
January 10, 2013 7:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm reformatting the hard drive of my parent's Windows 7 PC to give to somebody. That's all well and good--software is reinstalled, drivers are updated, Windows Update looks happy. When I started the machine for the first time after Windows 7 installation was complete, it did it's standard thing where it asked what the user name was, what the PC name was, basic settings, etc. Is there any way to redo that setup for the new owner when they turn it on for the first time?

In effect, what I'm almost looking for is a way to automate the deletion of the user account I created and the initiation of the creation of a new user account? Is this a thing? Is there anything I can do to replicate the "fresh out of the box" part of turning on a new PC while still being able to maintain all the up-to-date software and drivers? I'm not finding any leads on Google. Thank you!
posted by jroybal to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
There should be OOBE (Out Of Box Experience) utility that runs the first time you log in to Windows 7 with a new account and may even run persistently until the user opts out ot it.

If you don't see that in the new account you set up, you could Google around for the appropriate item to add to RunOnce in the relevant section of the Windows registry and adding it should get that to behave as if the next login was the first.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:58 AM on January 10, 2013

Look up sysprep too. Not sure if that's what they call it in Windows 7, but that's the utility that they used to use for doing that.
posted by gjc at 8:12 AM on January 10, 2013

yeah, came in here to mention sysprep as gjc notes.
posted by k5.user at 8:27 AM on January 10, 2013

The app that runs is msoobe.exe, but it requires setup and sysprep. Unless it's quite important, I'd rename Administrator, and give it a secure password, ex., PCAdmin, pw=BE0very0careful and a User account, ex., Win7pc, pw = HAPPY7thought. I'd put those passwords on a label inside the case, and in paperwork with the computer.

Should you decide to use sysprep, here's some help:
posted by theora55 at 9:41 AM on January 10, 2013

The simplest, requirement-meeting solution I went with looked to be Sysprep.exe, which was almost exactly what I was looking for. Ideally it would have deleted the existing account when I ran it, which is probably doable with some scripting or something or maybe another utility, but the default/easy Sysprep worked just fine. Thanks to all.
posted by jroybal at 5:40 PM on January 14, 2013

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