After spending nearly two days in trial and error I had to find out that there is a bug in SIM (ADK 8.1 Preview) that prohibits the opening of Windows 8.1 based WIM files.
Yes, I know, this is preview, but it still leaves me scratching my head, why this malfunction of such an essential feature in a tool has not been detected.
However, if you want to go on evaluating, the unattend.xml file can be manually edited in Notepad, instead or you could also do your settings with a Windows 8 based wim file (those can be opened) and then transfer the settings made into an 8.1 answer file.
Right, this will not give you any new configuration options, but allows one to test 8.1 with the settings currently used in your OS builds.
Better than nothing, or?
Microsoft is aware of the issue and I am sure that it will be fixed when global availability (GA) for Windows 8.1 is reached (on October 18th 2013 – not too far out).
Btw., if you are new to System Image Manager – this tool has a crazy setup story:
The 32-Bit version, which is able to configure 32-Bit and 64-Bit Windows version installs only on a 32-Bit system, while the 64-Bit version automatically installs on a 64-Bit dev machine, which many developers most probably have.
64-Bit SIM is limited and opens only 64-Bit images.
Why? I do not have a clue… I could live with a 32-Bit Tool that does it’s job right.
Well, maybe this is tradition. It’s like this since Vista! 🙂
Use Hyper-V, VMWare or Virtual Box to get a 32-Bit version running on your 64-Bit dev machine, if you need to configure Windows 32-Bit OS images, as well.
I finally had time for some tests. It is worse than I thought!
Answer files seem not to work at all with the 8.1 preview. Setup does not read the product key correctly and exits – not good.
There are fatal errors occurring when running Sysprep, as well. This is due to a cleanup job running 60 minutes after installation. Therefore make sure to disable it using this command right after setting up an image:
Schtasks.exe /change /disable /tn "\Microsoft\Windows\AppxDeploymentClient\Pre-staged app cleanup"
Wow – Hope the final bits have these issues fixed!