Unattended Setup of Windows 8 to Surface Pro

In today’s blog I am going to explain how you can do an unattended setup of the default Windows 8 Enterprise X64 install.wim to a Surface Pro from a USB drive.  Unattended setups are not new but when you are deploying to the Surface Pro (or any other UEFI system) there are some special considerations around disk partitioning and booting from USB.

Step #1:  Prepare USB drive

  1. Locate a 4GB or larger USB flash drive
  2. Open Diskpart and run the following command
    1. List disk
    2. Identify the disk # of the flash drive
    3. Sel disk X where X is the USB drive(make sure to choose correct one)
    4. Clean
    5. Create part primary
    6. Assign
    7. Active
    8. Format FS=FAT32 quick.  Note:  It must be FAT32
    9. Exit
  3. Copy the entire contents of your Windows 8 Enterprise X64 DVD to the USB drive

Note:  It is also possible to replace the default install.wim in the sources folder with your own custom install.wim.  The image must be prepared using Sysprep with the /generalize and /oobe command line switches.  If the install.wim is >4GB you will have either split the .wim or prepare the USB drive with multiple partitions.  See http://blogs.technet.com/b/askcore/archive/2013/03/20/creating-bootable-usb-drive-for-uefi-computers.aspx for more information

Step #2:  Create autounattend.xml

Using Windows System Image Manger create an autounattend.xml and then copy it to the root of the USB flash drive. 

Since the Surface Pro is a UEFI system you must create different disk partitioning then a legacy BIOS based computer.   I have attached a sample autounattend.xml to the blog that is fully automated and will end with you logged in to the computer as local administrator account. My disk partitioning follows the default configuration.  Below shows the different partitions and sizes


Figure 1.  Default UEFI disk configuration

If you want to setup for recovery partition scenarios see the Recommended Configuration:  System Recovery. 

Step #3:  Boot from the USB drive

To boot from USB on the Surface Pro you must do the following:

  1. Press and hold the volume down button
  2. Press the power button
  3. When you see the Surface Logo you can let go of the buttons

If it doesn’t boot from the USB drive check the following:

  • Make sure you have formatted the drive FAT32
  • Try the USB drive in another computer(UEFI and Legacy BIOS) to see if it works

Here is autounattend.xml.

Note:  This answer file sets the local administrator password to Password1

Hope this helps with your deployments.  Stay tuned for more Surface Pro deployment related blogs

Scott McArthur
Senior Support Escalation Engineer
Microsoft Customer Support & Services