Creating Discover Images

Applies To: Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2

A discover image is a type of boot image that you can use to install an operating system on a computer that is not capable of network booting using the Pre-Boot Execution Environment (PXE). You may want to use a discover image in the following scenarios:

  • A client is not PXE-enabled.

  • A client is on a different subnet and you do not have method of getting PXE to the client (for example, IP helper tables or Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP)).

  • You have many Windows Deployment Services servers and want to target a specific server.

When you boot a computer into a discover image, the Windows Deployment Services client will locate a Windows Deployment Services server, and then you can choose the install image you want to install. You can specify a destination server and the discover image will locate and install the image from the server automatically. You can also configure discover images to target a specific Windows Deployment Services server. This means that if you have multiple servers in your environment, you can create a discover image for each one, and then name them based on the name of the server.

Prerequisites for creating discover images

  • A CD or DVD or flash drive to store the image.

  • A Boot.wim file on the server. In most cases this should be the Boot.wim file from the product DVD, although you can also create a discover image using a custom boot image. For more information, see Creating Images (

  • A disk-burning utility if you are burning the image to CD or DVD.

Steps for creating discover images

The following procedures walk you through creating a discover image, and then creating media that contains the image.

To create a discover image

  1. In the Windows Deployment Services MMC snap-in, expand the Boot images node.

  2. Right-click the image that you want to use as a discover image.

  3. Click Create Discover Boot Image.

  4. Follow the instructions in the wizard, and when it is completed, click Finish.

  5. Use the following procedure to create media that contains the image.


You can also perform this procedure at a command prompt by running WDSUTIL /New-DiscoverImage /Image:<name> /Architecture:{x86|x64|ia64} /DestinationImage /FilePath:<path and name to new file>. To specify which server the discover image connects to, append /WDSServer:<server name or IP>.

To create media that contains the discover image

  1. Download and install the Windows Automated Installation Kit.

  2. Click Start, click All Programs, click Microsoft Windows AIK, and then click Deployment Tools Command Prompt.

  3. To create a Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) build environment, type:

    CopyPE <architecture> C:\Winpe

  4. To copy the discover image that you created to the environment, type:

    Copy /y c:\discover.wim c:\Winpe\ISO\Sources

  5. To change back to the PETools folder, type:

    Cd C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools

  6. To create the bootable .iso image, type:

    Oscdimg -n -bc:\winpe\ISO\boot\ c:\winpe\ISO c:\<imagename>.iso

  7. Use a utility that can create a CD or DVD to transfer the .iso image to the media.


Using the Windows copy command to copy the image to media will not create a bootable disk.

  1. Boot the client computer to the media. You may need to change the boot order in the client BIOS to do this. When the client boots to the media, your experience will be the same as if you had booted to the network.