In the latest Embedded Windows product, namely Windows Embedded Standard (download the Customer Technology Preview) a number of new features make their debut. One of the new features included in this release is the Windows System Preparation Tool (Sysprep).
Sysprep is a tool that normally ships as part of an OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK). It is a technology that you can use with other deployment tools to install Microsoft Windows operating systems with minimal intervention by an administrator or technician. Sysprep is typically used during large-scale rollouts when it would be too slow and costly to have administrators or technicians interactively install the operating system on individual computers. This process of creating a master image that can then be customized and deployed to multiple machines is also referred to as cloning.
In XP Embedded we offered an Embedded version of cloning technology through the System Cloning Tool. This allows developers to specify when they want to “seal” the image to create the master image (either at the end of setup or later, after some sort of customization of the image), and also has the option to configure some settings offline (before the image has been deployed and run through setup) which may reduce the amount of customization that needs to be done after the image has booted up. Sysprep also has the capability of configuring settings, albeit only on a running image and does not have the ability to retain some of the settings that were configured before sysprep ran.