Customize the startup of a new Windows installation

In addition, it usually comes prepared and adapted in advance to work perfectly with the computer that we have just bought. In this way we will only have to start the team as such, establish a series of own parameters such as our account and region, and start working almost from minute zero. It is true that many users then choose to install their favorite applications, configure or customize a bit the Microsoft system, etc.

All this makes our work much easier if, for example, we buy it with the fact that we have to install the system from scratch and configure it on a certain computer.

How PC Manufacturers Customize Windows

At this point perhaps you can ask how computer manufacturers implement the operating system of Microsoft, Windows on the new PC. And it is that on many occasions this system integrates its own set of applications and drivers. at the same time we can find that a certain recovery partition has already been created that helps us to reinstall everything as if the computer were new.

Well, to give you an idea of ​​how all this is achieved, it is possible thanks to a particular Windows mode. This is precisely what we want to talk about in these same lines, the one known as called Audit Mode. This allows equipment manufacturers to preconfigure an image of the Redmond operating system. With this what we want to say is that it allows them to package their software and then deploy it on all their computers to sell it to their customers. In this way, they come to us already preconfigured and ready to start working from scratch.

It goes without saying that conventionally we end users, we don’t need to boot the system this way. Therefore, in this sense we could affirm that, when starting a Windows-based computer, we have two well differentiated modes. Here we refer to the boot modes known as Audit Mode and OOBE.

What is OOBE mode

We already mentioned the aforementioned Audit Mode as a great help for computer manufacturers. However, when we turn on the Windows PC using the power button in a conventional way, we do not have that possibility. And it is that by default the end user uses the mode known as OOBE o Out of box experience to start working with your computer.

Thus, this is the default mode that allows end users to configure and use Windows on a new machine or when they decide to reboot or boot Windows. It is worth mentioning that this is the usual mode that we find when we started a team for the first time the rest of the occasions with Windows. Here, what we really do when we start the first time, is configure the system with our data.

The Wi-Fi to which we want to connect the equipment will be asked, the user account that we are going to use in the operating system itself, what language, the keyboard, etc. Also, we will have to specify telemetry, Cortana’s use of other built-in Windows functions.

Audit Mode Utility

We already mentioned previously that the Audit Mode in which we are focusing in this case allows equipment manufacturers to implement a customized image of the system. In this way they have the possibility of including their own package of drivers, applications that interest them, equipment specific updates, etc. All these additional elements in addition to the customization of the system will depend on the needs or requirements of each manufacturer.

Although there are more elements that explain the need for the Audit Mode, let’s see the benefits it brings in general terms. The first thing we should know is that if we start Windows in this way there is no welcome or configuration screen. Directly this allows you to start on the desktop using an included administrator account and configure the things that we have discussed. This means that it is not necessary to create an additional account in any case.

Say that this is the main objective of this Audit Mode, that the OEM use an image to customize it based on your business requirements. You can also install additional language packs and drivers

What is the AuditUser configuration

Once the installation and configuration is complete, you can test what the installation process will look like when the end user uses the OOBE mode. This is called the AuditUser setting.

In this way, the computer manufacturer himself ensures that the entire process carried out in the Audit Mode will be carried out according to your wishes. To put it in some way, the OEM will put itself in the shoes of the end user to live the experience of when he / she faces his new computer for the first time. How could it be otherwise here you can correct errors and make changes before the final sale. In fact, many times, the changes are due to the request of the device or the consumer.

Once the auditing process has been completed successfully and everything works as expected, that same image can be used on multiple computers. If not, it can be rebooted into audit mode to configure on each device itself.

How to boot from Audit Mode in Windows

Initially Microsoft offers a file called Unattend.xml, file based on XML A containing configuration settings to use during Windows setup. The file can be created using the System Image Manager of the system. When Windows setup stores this file, it boots into Audit Mode, otherwise it will boot into OOBE by default.

Thus, to boot into Audit Mode in Windows, we have to add the following configuration in the mentioned file:

Microsoft-Windows-Deployment | Reseal | Mode = audit

We can also make use of the combination of typing Ctrl + Shift + F3 in the OOBE boot screen. Thus, when the computer restarts in Audit Mode, the system preparation tool will appear. The disadvantage of using the keyboard shortcut is that we do not avoid the OOBE process. That includes running scripts and applying settings from the oobeSystem configuration file.

Start Audit Mode with an OOBE image

Either we can use the aforementioned keyboard shortcut, or mount the system image by adding the file with the audit settings. We can save this in the path:


The content of this file must be the same as we mentioned before and we save it as Unattend.xml. Then in a command prompt window with administrator permissions we execute the following command:

Dism /Mount-Image /ARCHIVO_IMAGEN:C:testimagesMyImage.wim /index: /MountDir:C:testoffline

Say that the image_index parameter is the number of the selected image in the .wim file. As in the previous step we copy the new file in the path specified before. We finish with the changes using the DISM tool through the following command:

Dism /Unmount-Image /MountDir:C:testoffline /commit

Exit this special mode in Windows

In the event that we want to exit the Authorship Mode, we have the possibility to delete the Unattend.xml file. We also do this by adding the following command to that file:

Microsoft-Windows-Deployment | Reseal | Mode = oobe

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