What's New in the Windows ADK for Windows 8.1

Applies To: Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2

This release of Windows ADK includes new and updated functionality to improve your assessment and deployment scenarios. New Windows assessments provide additional views into the end-to-end experience of your hardware and software.

Download the latest version of the Windows ADK


By default, the Windows ADK for Windows 8.1 is installed to %PROGRAMFILES(x86)%\Windows Kits\8.1\Assessment and Deployment Kit.
Note that the version is updated to 8.1 from the previous release of 8.0 in the installation path. If you intend to use existing automation for Windows 8.1 deployment, you must update the paths in your automation.

New and changed features in the Windows ADK for Windows 8.1 are described below.

Windows 8.1 Update changes

Windows 8.1 changes

Windows 8.1 Update changes

Windows 8.1 Installation for OEMs

Windows 8.1 Update is released to OEMs as an MSU file and can be installed to a running Windows installation and an offline Windows image. For more information, see Install the Windows 8.1 Update for OEMs.

Windows image file boot (WIMBoot)

New for Windows 8.1 Update, devices can be configured to boot and run Windows directly from a .wim file. This provides several benefits:

  • Windows can run on smaller solid state drives

  • Increases available disk space for end users

  • Reduces OEM manufacturing time

To support WIMBoot, you will need updated versions of Windows PE and DISM. If you use customized push-button reset configuration files, you'll need to update them. See related topics:

Create and deploy WIMBoot images:

DISM Command line options:

Windows RE updates:


  • January 2015: Windows 8.1 Update PCs configured with WIMBoot will not receive the November Update (KB3000850).

    To save drive space, we’ve limited offering only the following types of updates from Windows Update to WIMBoot devices with 32GB or less of storage space:

    • Critical updates that keep the system or programs running.

    • Security updates and security advisory updates.

    Users can still manually download and install updates from the Microsoft Download Center.

  • January 2015: WIMBoot is not recommended on systems with fixed internal storage of more than 32GB.

  • Windows 8.1 changes

    Windows Assessments

    Windows Performance Toolkit

    Deployment Tools

    Windows Preinstallation Environment 5.x

    Application Compatibility Toolkit

    User State Migration Tool

    Volume Activation Management Tool

    Windows Assessments

    Windows Assessments help you assess the performance, reliability, or functionality of a running operating system, or a set of features, so that you can diagnose problems and make improvements. New features for Windows 8.1 include:

    • Connected Standby assessment

      As part of the Battery Run Down job, the Connected Standby assessment measures the impact of software and devices on the battery life of a system while it is in connected standby. For more information, see Connected Standby.

    • Local Video Playback assessment

      The Local Video Playback assessment measures the performance and battery life of a system while it is playing full-screen video. For more information, see Local Video Playback.

    • Windows Store App Performance assessment

      The Windows Store App Performance assessment can help you optimize your app for a better customer experience. The assessment measures how quickly the app opens and the amount of resources it uses on the PC. For more information, see Windows Store App Performance.

    • Internet Explorer Security Software Impact assessment

      The Internet Explorer Security Software Impact assessment measures the impact of security software on the display time, CPU time, and resource utilization of Internet Explorer. For more information, see Internet Explorer Security Software Impact assessment.

    • Highlighted result differences

      When you compare two or more results in this version of the Windows Assessment Console, differences for some of the key metrics are highlighted to help you identify improvements. For more information, see Compare Results.

    • Asynchronous analysis

      When you run a job or an assessment in this version of the Windows Assessment Toolkit, you can choose to collect the data without running a full analysis. You can then run the full analysis at any time and on any PC that has the Windows ADK installed, including a PC with a different architecture. You can also run the full analysis multiple times. For example, you can run a job or an assessment on an x86-based tablet, and then run the full analysis on an x64-based PC where you are running the Windows Assessment Server. If you update symbols on your PC, you can run the full analysis again to get more accurate information.

      For more information about asynchronous analysis in the Windows Assessment Console, see Analyze Results on Another Device.

      For more information about asynchronous analysis in Windows Assessment Services, see Windows Assessment Services Step-by-Step Guide.

      Asynchronous analysis is not available for all assessments.

    For more information, see Windows Assessment Toolkit and Windows Assessment Services.

    Windows Performance Toolkit

    Windows Performance Analyzer (WPA) visualizes traces from Windows Performance Recorder and Windows Assessment Console as graphs and tables to allow you to analyze system and application performance. WPA offers the following new features:

    • Support for multiple traces in a single session

    • Comparative Analysis Views

    • Regions of interest that allow you to highlight important time ranges in a trace

    • A new command line-based exporting tool

    • Support for Windows Store app analysis

    • Instrumentation support for events that are fired through the System.Diagnostics.Tracing.EventSource class in .NET 4.5

    Windows Performance Recorder (WPR) is a performance tool that you can use to record system events that you can then analyze by using WPA. WPR offers the following new feature:

    • After recording a trace, you can now immediately open it in WPA by choosing the Open in WPA button.

    For more information, see Windows Performance Toolkit Technical Reference.

    Deployment Tools

    Deployment tools help you customize, manage, and deploy Windows images. Deployment tools can be used to automate Windows deployments, removing the need for user interaction during Windows setup. Deployment tools include Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management (DISM) command line tool, DISM PowerShell cmdlets, DISM API, Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM), and OSCDIMG.

    For more information, see Deployment Tools.


    DISM tools support capturing and deploying Windows images:

    • Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, and Windows PE 5.0 are supported as host platform and target image.

    • Windows Vista is no longer supported as host platform or as target image.

    • Windows Server 2008 SP2 is only supported as a host platform with limited functionality.

    • All advanced image management functions, for example, apply, capture, and export, are supported in Windows PowerShell using the DISM module.

    For more information, see Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) Technical Reference.


    Updated Windows Language Pack identifiers include:

    • The Serbian language pack identifier has changed from sr-Latn-CS to sr-Latn-RS.

    • The Serbian-Cyrillic language interface pack identifier has changed from sr-Cyrl-cs to sr-Cyrl-RS.

    Updated Windows language pack default values include:

    • Burmese - Myanmar

    • Guarani - Paraguay

    • Javanese (Latin) - Indonesia

    • Latvian – Latvia

    • Mongolian (Mongolian) - Mongolia

    • Mongolian (Mongolian) - China

    • N'ko – Guinea

    • Shona – Zimbabwe

    • Standard Moroccan Tamazight - Morocco

    • Central Atlas Tamazight (Latin) - Algeria

    • Tatar – Russia

    • Tibetan – PRC

    • Urdu – India

    Updated Default Input Locales for Windows Language Packs for windows language Packs include:

    • Azerbaijani (Standard)

    • Buginese

    • Central Atlas Tamazight

    • Futhark

    • Gothic

    • Guarani

    • Javanese

    • Latvian (Standard)

    • Ol Chiki

    • Old Italic

    • Osmanya

    • Sora

    • Tatar

    • Tibetan (PRC)

    • Traditional Mongolian (Standard)

      For more information, see Language Packs and Windows Deployment.

    System Preparation Tool (Sysprep)

    In Windows 8.1, the Sysprep user interface is deprecated. The Sysprep UI will continue to be supported in this release however it may be removed in a future release. We recommend that you update your Windows deployment workflow to use the Sysprep command line. For more information, see Sysprep Technical Reference.

    Windows Preinstallation Environment 5.x

    Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE/WinPE) is a minimal operating system designed to prepare a computer for installation and servicing of Windows. Updates in version 5.0 include:

    • LaunchApps: The [AppPath] field no longer requires the [AppPath]="" in the code. This allows you to use file paths that include quotation marks.

    • Scratch space: The default amount of scratch space is 512MB for PCs that have more than 1GB of RAM.

    • DISM: Does not support Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 images.

    • Memory: Maximum supported: x86: 64GB, x64: 4TB.

    Updates in version 5.1 include:

    • DISM: Supports WIMBoot commands.


    To build a Windows PE 5.1 image, see Update WinPE 5.0 to WinPE 5.1.

    For more information, see Windows PE Technical Reference.

    Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) and Push-Button Reset

    • The updated version of the Windows RE tools (winre.wim in the Windows 8.1 Update media) are now marked as hidden files. To copy these files, use xcopy with /h.

    • The base Windows RE image now includes the optional component: WinPE-StorageWMI, and like other optional components, requires language packs for multilingual deployments. For more info, see Customize Windows RE.

    • You can now enable Windows RE through Windows PE by using the Reagentc /enable /osguid command.

    • You can compress the push-button reset image to a new file format (.esd) to save hard drive space. For more info, see Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) Technical Reference.

    • Windows RE is enabled automatically after the specialize configuration pass is complete. (In Windows 8, Windows RE was enabled after OOBE was complete.)

    Windows Setup

    • Windows 8.1 upgrades are different from previous Windows upgrade scenarios. For more info, see Windows 8.1 Upgrade Scenarios for OEMs.

    • Windows Setup cannot be used to perform automated upgrades to most editions of Windows 8.1.

      For volume-licensed editions of Windows, we've added a new command-line option, setup /auto, to help enable upgrades. Note, we only plan to use this option for upgrades to Windows 8.1, and we may remove the option in future versions of Windows.

    • Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 include debugging options: /busparams and /netdebug, and options to set the firmware boot order: /addbootmgrlast.

    Application Compatibility Toolkit

    The Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) enables IT professionals to evaluate and mitigate application compatibility issues before deploying a new version of Windows or a new version of Internet Explorer.

    There are no new or changed features for ACT in this release.

    For more information, see Application Compatibility Toolkit.

    User State Migration Tool

    User State Migration Tool (USMT) allows IT professionals to migrate user data from a previous installation of Windows to a new installation.

    There are no new or changed features for USMT in this release.

    For more information, see User State Migration Tool.

    Volume Activation Management Tool

    Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) enables IT professionals to automate and centrally manage the activation of Windows®, Windows Server®, and Microsoft® Office 2010. VAMT includes several bug fixes and now includes support for Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, and Office 2013.

    For more information, see Volume Activation Management Tool.

    See Also


    Installing the Windows ADK

    Other Resources

    Windows ADK Release Notes
    Windows ADK Overview