Windows Install ISOs

Please use the menu tabs to see lots more information about Windows support in E2B.
New! E2B eBooks are now available (includes a complete course on making a multiboot USB drive and Installing Windows).
IMPORTANT: If using a Fixed-disk E2B USB drive (e.g. USB-HDD) for Windows Install ISO files, you may also need to connect a USB Flash WinHelper drive or use E2B v.1.A8+.
Do NOT set the BIOS to boot from the USB drive as the first boot device. Always use the BIOS Function Key for the BIOS Boot Selection (BBS) menu (e.g. F8, F12, ESC) to boot from the E2B USB drive.
You can download Windows ISOs using this utility.
  • To UEFI-boot, you must convert the Windows Install ISOs to a .imgPTN file using the MPI Tool Kit and 'switch' to the .imgPTN file - alternatively you can MBR boot to the ISO and use WinNTSetup to install to a GPT\UEFI target disk.
  • Windows Vista/7/8/10 Install .ISO files require E2B to be on a 'Removable' USB drive (unless you have >1.5GB of RAM and use E2B v1.A8 or later - E2B will use the WIMBOOT method and load the ISO file as a virtual DVD Y: drive even if your E2B USB drive is a hard disk).
    If the drive is displayed as a 'Local Disk' in Windows Explorer then you may also need a 'Removable' USB Flash drive called a 'WinHelper Drive' in order to install Windows.  Alternatively, if you have an E2B USB Hard Disk (or Flash drive of the 'Fixed' type) you can create .imgPTN files from Vista/7/8 ISOs using MakePartImage and add these image files to the E2B drive. Then you do not require a Helper Flash drive AND you can boot in either MBR or UEFI mode and from Virtual Machines too! Another alternative is to use WinNTSetup to install Windows.
  • Windows Install ISO files usually do not need to be contiguous. E2B will usually work (unless the file is highly fragmented).
  • Because E2B uses an AutoUnattend.xml file when installing directly from a Windows Install ISO file when NOT using the WIMBOOT method, for Windows 8/10 you must specify a Product Key. This can be a generic installation Key or a genuine activation key. For instance, for Windows 10, you can even specify a Win7 Pro key to install Win10 Pro! If you use a blank ProductKey entry ( ) then Setup may pick the same OS edition that the system was originally manufactured with by obtaining the factory-programmed Product Key from the BIOS and will not offer you the full selection of Edition choices.
  • The file extension must be .ISO.ISO32, .ISO64 or .imgPTN* to be added into the Windows Install Menu by E2B.
  • Windows Vista/7/8/10 Install ISOs may not run correctly under QEMU, Virtual Box or other Virtual Machines because the USB drive will appear as a 'hard disk' and not a Removable USB drive. You must test with a real system, or use a .imgPTN file or see here for a manual workaround. This does not apply however if E2B is using the WIMBOOT method (E2B v1.A8+) - you can use a VM if E2B uses WIMBOOT.
  • If Windows 7/8/10 ALL-IN-ONE (AIO) and custom ISOs will not work as an .iso file, convert them to .imgPTN files using MakePartImage.
  • When CSM-booting directly from a Vista+ ISO installation file under E2B, any EI.cfg file or PID.txt file in the ISO file will be ignored by Windows Setup if E2B uses an AutoUnattend.xml unattend file. However, if using .imgPTN files instead of ISO files, EI.cfg and PID.txt will not be ignored (unless you also add an XML file).
  • To automate the installation of Windows + auto-install drivers + install applications + Windows updates, see SDI_CHOCO.
  • Instead of using .imgPTN files to UEFI-install Windows, you might prefer to use WinNTSetup to install Windows. This method also supports SDI_CHOCO.
  • Windows XP/2003 32-bit Install ISOs will work best using the E2B+DPMS download. This allows you to install Windows XP onto systems containing SATA, SCSI or RAID hard disks without needing to add Windows XP 32-bit mass storage drivers into the ISO (e.g. using nLite).

Folders for Windows Install ISOs

E2B supports any number of Windows Install ISOs.     
You must copy the ISO to the correct folder:
Windows Install ISO folders: (if any .ISO files are present, a Windows menu entry will be listed in the Main menu)
\_ISO\WINDOWS\SVR2016            \_ISO\WINDOWS\SVR2019           
\_ISO\WINDOWS\XP                      (Note: XP 64-bit ISO files should have '64' somewhere in the name of the ISO file, Win2k ISOs should have '2k' in the filename and Win2k3 ISOs should have '2k3' somewhere in the name.)

If you have a version of Windows which does not exactly match the pre-defined folders, you will need to look-up your version to see what it is based on here. For  instance, Windows MultiPoint Server 2010 belongs to the Windows Server 2008 R2 group so place the ISO file in the SVR2KR2 folder. For other versions, try the WIN7 or WIN8 folders. 

Note: E2B now allows you to add .imgPTN files to these folders too (except for the XP folder).
If you place ISOs in the WINDOWS\xxxx folders, it allows use to use XML files and specify a Product Key.
E2B v1.A8+ allows you to place Windows Install ISOs (except XP ISOs) in the normal E2B menu folders too.
The \_ISO\WINDOWS\installs folder is used by SDI_CHOCO - see here for details.

Windows Vista/7/8/10 ISOs

Windows Vista/7/8 installs use an AutoUnattend.xml file which is automatically read by Windows Setup (WinPE) from a Removable Flash drive
The special \AutoUnattend.xml file that is written by E2B, causes the ISO file to be loaded as a virtual DVD so that Windows Setup can access the files inside it.
 A blue console window MUST appear when using a Vista/7/8/10 Install ISO - this causes the ISO to be loaded as a virtual 'DVD drive' - see here for how it works.
 If this does not run, Windows Setup will report 'Missing CD\DVD device drivers'!
 Setup cannot find the \Sources\Install.* files on the 'DVD'
If you have a custom Windows Vista\7\8\10 ISO which doesn't seem to work from the \_ISO\WINDOWS\xxx folder, try moving it the \_ISO\MAINMENU folder (E2B v1.A8+) or use the .isope file extension. This may also work for some standard Windows Install ISOs which do not require a Product Key in the AutoUnattend.xml file. If the E2B Blue Console window does not appear, run a Windows Command shell console and type wpeinit - after 20-30 seconds you should see the E2B Blue console window appear and load the ISO file as Y:. Now you can continue to use the custom ISO in the normal way.
Alternatively, just convert the ISO to a .imgPTN file.
If your Windows Install ISO does not offer the same choices as it did when booted as a DVD (e.g. no Language option, etc.), it is probably due to an .xml file inside the ISO containing a "WindowsPE" section. To fix this, make your own .xml file which has the correct sections in it. Your .xml file can then be added to the relevant \_ISO\WINDOWS\xxxx folder.
If you don't want the blue console to prompt you to repair Windows, ensure your .XML file contains LOADISONP.CMD instead of LOADISO.CMD.
Files ending in .iso64 will only be listed in the menu if a 64-bit CPU is present (.iso32 also supported) (E2B v1.94+). 

E2B v1.A8+ and WIMBOOT

  • E2B will try to use WIMBOOT to boot Windows Install ISOs. WIMBOOT requires >1.3GB of RAM and only works with standard Microsoft  Windows Install ISO files.
  • WIMBOOT has the advantage that an XML file and a Removable USB Flash drive (or WinHelper drive) is not required.
  • If a dual-architecture (32-bit + 64-bit) ISO is detected, E2B will prompt you to select 'x86' or 'x64' but if the system contains a 32-bit CPU, E2B will automatically pick the x86 version and you will not be prompted.
  • When prompted to run Repair\Setup after you select your ISO, if you press a key quickly, E2B will boot the Windows Install ISO using WIMBOOT and allow you to run Setup without needing to specify an XML file.
For Windows Install purposes, if WIMBOOT does not work with your ISO, add the characters NOWIMBOOT into the filename to suppress WIMBOOT - e.g. \_ISO\WINDOWS\WIN10\Windows 10 x64 1803 (NoWimboot).iso. (E2B v1.B1+).
For more details on adding and using Windows Install ISOs to Easy2Boot please see Tutorial  72c.