Windows Preinstallation Environment

Windows Preinstallation Environment
Component of Microsoft Windows
Windows Preinstallation Environment in Windows 10
Introduced inWindows XP
Last included in
Replaced by

Windows Preinstallation Environment, often shortened to WinPE or Windows PE, is a minimal version of Windows typically used for system deployment or recovery. It is configured in such way that changes made to the environment do not persist across reboots, which makes it possible to boot it from read-only media such as CD-ROM discs or across the network. It has been introduced with Windows XP as a replacement for MS-DOS-based boot disks. Since then, it has been adopted for the setup and the recovery environment starting with Windows Vista.

In Windows XP, the environment is loaded by setupldr.bin in a similar manner to the text mode setup. However, it does not load the operating system into a RAM disk by default and therefore it is required to keep the system disk in the drive, as ejecting it would cause the system to misbehave. In Windows Vista, the system is stored inside a WIM file called boot.wim, which is loaded by the boot manager into a RAM disk and then executed.

Unlike regular versions of Windows, Windows PE uses the /MININT switch to instruct the kernel to load registry hives as volatile, which makes sure that the operating system does not try to save any registry changes to the boot disk.

Creation[edit | edit source]

Custom Windows PE images can be created:

Windows XP or Server 2003[edit | edit source]

Windows PE creation based on Windows XP or Server 2003 requires Windows OEM Preinstallation Kit. To create Windows PE:

  1. Open a command prompt window (In Windows Vista or later requires to open CMD as Administrator),
  2. Mount the ISO file as a drive letter or insert installation disc.
  3. Change directory to folder has mkimg.cmd.
  4. Perform this command mkimg.cmd (The drive letter of the installation disc) (Target folder) (Target ISO).

Windows Vista or later[edit | edit source]

Windows PE creation based on Windows Vista or 7 requires Windows Automated Installation Kit; Windows 8 or later requires Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit:

  1. Open Windows PE command prompt as Administrator.
  2. Perform this command copype (x86/amd64/ia64/arm/arm64) (Target folder).
  3. Perform this command Makewinpemedia /iso (Source folder) (Target ISO).

Gallery[edit | edit source]