Creating an unattended installation of Windows 8 Developer Preview with MDT, can it be done? The answer is yes! However, you will have to make some small changes since MDT is not designed to deploy Windows 8. This guide is written using Windows Server 2008 R2, MDT 2010 Update 1 and Windows 8 Developer Preview x64.

The Developer Preview requires you to set the product key type in MDT to Retail. Otherwise, you will get a nice looking error message. It doesn’t matter if you enter this information is the TaskSequence guide or in the Deployment Wizard during installation. There is no unique keys to Windows 8, however, you will need to use a real Windows 8 key, a fake one won’t do. Here’s the key shipped within the Developer Preview Edition:


If you’re going to give it a try to install Windows 8 Server (not described in this guide), you need this key:


Not entering a key at all will generate this error: Windows cannot read the <ProductKey> setting from the unattend answer file.

Now, the initial installation of Windows 8 should run without further problems…

… until you run into the next error at the end of the installation:

Windows could not parse or process the unattend answer file [C:\Windows\Panther\unattend.xml] for pass [specialize]. A component or setting specified in the answer file does not exist.

To solve this, you need to make some changes to your Unattend.xml file. First, remove the entire section amd64_Microsoft-Windows-IE-InternetExplorer_neutral. You will have to do this because Windows 8 is shipped with Internet Explorer 10 which MDT definitely not supports (yet).


After fixing the first problem, you will get the next error message:

Windows could not parse or process the unattend answer file for pass [specialize]. The settings specified in the answer file cannot be applied. The error was detected while processing settings for component [Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup].


To solve this, we need to change one more thing, the DoNotCleanTaskBar value. By default its value is set to “true”. It’s important that you don’t set it to “false”. Instead, right click and select “Revert Change”. This is the same thing as delete the specific row in Unattend.xml.

Now your deployment should run smooth and the next screen you will see should be the Windows 8 initial setup guide.

And don’t be surprised if you get a couple of errors like these. Just another proof that Windows 8 is definitely not supported in MDT yet!

Good luck!