Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE) is a lightweight version of Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 or Windows Vista. It is used for the deployment of workstations and servers by large corporations. WinPE 2.0 is actually the lightweight version of Windows Vista with minimal GUI and drivers, with the ability to detect USB drives on-the-fly. Just plug it in, run diskpart and then list vol. You should see your USB drive listed with drive letter already assigned.
- Deployment of workstations and servers in large corporations.
- Pre-installation of workstations and servers by system builders, for sale to end users.
- Recovery platform used by larger system builders such as Dell, Acer and HP for use in Windows recovery.
- Replacement for MS-DOS as a utility operating system used by technicians for system diagnostics and software repair work.
- Platform for third-party Windows utilities, like the newest version of Symantec Ghost.
Today, I'll teach you how to create a WinPE 2.0 bootable USB key. As mentioned earlier, this is a lightweight version of Windows Vista. This will be useful since older operating systems like Windows 98 and Windows XP will become obsolete soon enough.
Creating a bootable USB key with Windows ME or Windows 98 or even DOS is easy when you use the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool with a bootable Windows 98/ME floppy disk. If you don't have a Windows 98/ME system, you can get the boot image here. But how do you create a WinPE bootable USB key? Before you read on, please make sure you have a Windows Vista system as you will need it to format your USB key.
If you don't already have OPK (OEM Preinstallation Kit) for Windows Vista installed in your system, then you can download the Automated Installation Kit (AIK) for Windows Vista. If you don't have OPK for Windows Vista and do not have a broadband connection, I don't think you can go any further because the Windows Vista AIK weighs in at 992.2 MB!
If you have either Windows Vista OPK or Windows Vista AIK installed, follow these steps to create a bootable USB key for WinPE 2.0.
Formatting The USB Key
1. Insert your USB key into your Windows Vista system. Note that you can't do this with a Windows XP system because your USB key will not be listed as a disk when you follow the steps below.
2. Start a command prompt by going to Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Command Prompt.
3. Type in the following commands (in bold) and press Enter after each command. The comments follow below and italicised. Please exclude them when you type the commands.
• list disk
- This lists the disks available in your system. Check whether disk 1's size tallies with that of your USB key
• sel disk 1
- This selects the disk number of your USB key. Change accordingly to reflect your USB key if you have multiple drives on your Vista system. If in doubt, type 'list vol' and check the size of your USB key and compare it with the list from 'list disk'
- This will delete everything in your USB key, so before you do this, make sure this is your USB key and not your hard drive!
• create par primary
- This creates a primary partition in your USB key
• sel par 1
- This selects the newly created partition
- This makes the partition active
• format fs=fat32
- This formats the selected partition with FAT32 filesystem
- This assigns the USB key to a drive letter
At this point, your USB key will be empty and formatted with the FAT32 filesystem. Now, we need to insert WinPE into the USB key and make it bootable.