Modifying the Default User profile in Windows 7+ with Deployment Solution 7.x (incl. 6.9)


Article ID: 181414


Updated On:


Deployment Solution




One of the things an administrator can do to customize a workstation image for an excellent out-of-box experience is the default user profile.  This ensures that every user gets a homogonous environment per your company standards, instead of a generic one that Microsoft may have invented.

Per Microsoft public documents, there are only two supported methods of modifying the Default User profile, and this has changed since Windows XP.  In Windows XP, you could copy any profile to the default user profile, but that option has been removed.  Now, the change is performed during the MiniSetup process per commands delivered in the Unattend.XML.  One way to do this is to enable the Administrator account, modify it, then run Sysprep and give the commands.  Another more thorough method is to actually enter Audit mode via Sysprep, make the changes there, and then let MiniSetup finish the process.  In both cases, the net result is that during MiniSetup, the Administrator Profile is copied over to the Default Profile.  The latter method, though a bit more difficult, is more thorough, for the former method is known to miss a few subtle things (e.g. we believe Desktop Background may be one of them).

These are discussed in the following KBs: and

Another method of accomplishing something similar is to use GPO's to deliver content to the desktop and enforce change.  PCT can be used to migrate settings either from one user to another, or from a generic user to everyone.  Policies and Tasks can be used to customize the desktop after a new user logs on, or a system is re-imaged.

But if you want to actually modify the Default profile, there are only the above two methods.

However, both methods have their unique challenges when working with the Deployment Solution products, because neither is fully "aware" of this possibility from Microsoft.  For both Deployment Solution versions, no design considerations were made for this kind of advanced use (instead focusing on the overwhelming "average" use or a far more "simplified" use of imaging).

Therefore, this KB is designed to give recommendations on how to use Deployment Solution to work with modifying the Default profile, and still be in a supported state.  Both methods - Entering Audit Mode to Customize Administrative Profile and the more Simple Duplication of Administrative Profile - will be discussed.

NOTE: Nothing in this KB discusses profiles in XP or 2003.

NOTE: Though not fully supported, both of these processes/methods should work and are mostly supported.


Entering Audit Mode to Customize Administrative Profile.

If you choose this method, you are essentially already running Sysprep, and launching our "Prepare for Image Capture" task will cause problems.  Accordingly, we recommend the following:

  • Do NOT use our Prepare for Image Capture.
  • Do NOT include the Symantec Management Agent (SMA)
  • If you DO include the SMA, manually remove the appropriate keys and GUID to ensure it is ready for duplication
  • Build your own custom Unattend.XML file to ensure the Default profile will be created.
  • Manually boot to automation.
  • Capture the image as you would any other image (not as a Backup).
  • Be sure to include your custom Unattend.XML in the Deploy Image task.
  • TEST: One thing you may want to be sure of is IF you use DeployAnywhere (DA), that your Unattend.XML is still functional after the changes DA makes to it.

NOTE: Where this method deviates from our default methods there may be supportability issues.  For instance, we don't support custom Unattend.XML files, though we will assist you in troubleshooting conflicts with DA.  We also can't support your modifications made while in Audit Mode and if Sysprep runs successfully because you did not let use do it for you via our default method.  Again though, we will help you troubleshoot, and all of our default processes are fully supported.


Simple Duplication of Administrative Profile

This method is not always recommended by industry experts, but is much simpler to execute, especially considering the work Symantec has done to simplify image capture.

  • DO include the SMA in the image.
  • DO customize the Administrative profile.  This will require enabling it, logging in as Administrator, and making all the changes you want here per Microsoft's recommendations.  The account WILL be disabled on deployment.
  • DO create a custom Unattend.XML file per Microsoft recommendations.  You should use this in both the Prepare and Deploy image tasks
  • The rest of the process should be pretty much what every other imaging task would be, except for use of your custom Unattend.XML file to copy the profile.
  • TEST: One thing you may want to be sure of is IF you use DeployAnywhere (DA), that your Unattend.XML is still functional after the changes DA makes to it.

NOTE: Remember that we don't support custom Unattend.XML files, but we will assist you in troubleshooting, as well as looking for possible conflicts if you have problems when you use DA.