I have had the most frustrating time trying to achieve a viable Windows 7 deployable image. I'm not sure where I'm missing the boat, but regardless I end up with a disk image that will not boot: most commonly it tells me that it cannot find NTLDR and stops.
I have a formula that seemed to work, yet it simply will not boot once it is applied to another drive. Obviously I'm missing something fairly important, here.
To start with, I built the initial Windows 7 install image on the Test PC, and just before naming the machine, break into the "short admin" mode using CTRL-SHIFT-F3. While in that mode, I install a few apps that we will need to perform certain hardware tests (later, on other machines, theoretically). Without using SysPrep to re-close the image, I shut down the Test PC, remove the hard drive, and attach that drive to the Image Workstation (another PC). Once on the Image Workstation, I run ImageX to capture the current image in its current state.
imagex /capture i:\ "C:\Temp\Win7-Production-20110902.wim" "Win7 Production"
Note: Whenever I attach this particular drive to another machine, it boots just fine to the "Admin" state, with SysPrep already started and ready to re-seal the install. Drivers and Apps appear as expected, so it would seem that - at least at that stage of the install - the image is stable enough for production.
Now comes the other end. With the image ready, I prepare an identical hard drive using the following steps:
select disk 6
create partition primary
select partition 1
format fs=ntfs quick
...once that takes place, I transfer the captured/stored Windows 7 image to the carefully prepared drive, like this:
imagex /apply "C:\Temp\Win7-Production-20110902.wim" 1 i:\
...and take that imaged drive right back to the Test PC, and plug it in. But this image won't boot. It consistently tells me that it cannot find NTLDR, and when I decided to "cheat" and use 'BootSect /nt60 i:' to get past that error, suddenly it cannot find winload.exe - which is there, in c:\windows\system32, right where it is supposed to be.
The goal is to provide a Windows 7 image that is ready to perform a few hardware tests (to verify a correct installation) before using SysPrep to re-seal the install before handing it off to the end-user.
Thanks in advance for your timely assistance.