2.2. Advanced Configuration for Windows Guests

2.2.1. Automated Windows System Preparation

Beginning with Windows NT 4.0, Microsoft offers a system preparation tool called Sysprep, to prepare a Windows system for deployment or redistribution. Whereas Windows 2000 and XP ship with Sysprep on the installation medium, the tool is also available for download on the Microsoft web site. In a standard installation of Windows Vista and 7, Sysprep is already included. Sysprep mainly consists of an executable called sysprep.exe which is invoked by the user to put the Windows installation into preparation mode.

The Guest Additions offer a way to launch a system preparation on the guest operating system in an automated way, controlled from the host system. See Guest Control of Applications for details of how to use this feature with the special identifier sysprep as the program to execute, along with the user name sysprep and password sysprep for the credentials. Sysprep then gets launched with the required system rights.


Specifying the location of "sysprep.exe" is not possible. Instead the following paths are used, based on the operating system:

  • C:\sysprep\sysprep.exe for Windows NT 4.0, 2000 and XP

  • %WINDIR%\System32\Sysprep\sysprep.exe for Windows Vista, 2008 Server and 7

The Guest Additions will automatically use the appropriate path to execute the system preparation tool.