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Customizing the Windows RE Experience

You can customize the user experience of Windows RE by creating an .xml file called WinREConfig.xml, which enables you to define custom support and diagnostic tools within Windows RE.

To customize the Windows RE experience

  1. Create a tools subdirectory in your working Windows RE directory. For example,

  2. Create an .xml file called WinREConfig.xml, with the following syntax.

    <RelativeFilePath> Tools.exe</RelativeFilePath>
    <SupportTool AutoLaunch=”Yes”/”No”>
    <RelativeFilePath> Tools.exe</RelativeFilePath>
    <RelativeFilePath> Tools.exe</RelativeFilePath>

    Choose the customizations that you intend to enable and include the corresponding elements in your WinREConfig.xml file. The following table describes these XML elements.

Element Description


Sets Windows RE to run in server mode. When specified, client-specific Windows RE options are not displayed. This setting is required when installing Windows RE on a server system.


Link to the customized recovery application to be included in the System Recovery Options menu. Only one application can be specified. The icon shown is extracted from the first available icon in the application executable. The title and the description of the link are extracted from the "Product name" and "File description" attributes of the application executable file.


Denotes customized support or the diagnostic tool that can be launched from a link when Startup Repair is unable to repair the operating system. Only one tool can be specified.


Automatically launches the tool specified in SupportTool when the value is set equal to Yes. This setting does not apply to cases when no startup failure is detected or a hardware error is detected.


Specifies an application to be launched instead of the Windows RE default user interface (UI) unless one of the following is true. Windows RE is launched:

  • From CD/DVD.
  • Automatically.
  • From the F8 menu.

This application must set the registry value HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\RecoveryEnvironment\TargetOS to the path of the Windows directory of Windows Vista.

This XML element is optional.


The relative path from the \Tools subfolder of the folder in which Recenv.exe resides. For example, if Recenv.exe is located in X:\WinRE\, the path designated in this field is relative to X:\WinRE\tools.


Authentication is enforced, regardless of the start location of Windows RE, including media. If the username/password database on the offline Windows operating system is corrupt or otherwise inaccessible, users will not be able to access the recovery tools in Windows RE.


Only Startup Repair and the application specified in <RecoveryTools> (if present) is accessible through the Recovery menu. All other options are hidden.


Contains a list of Startup Repair-specific settings.


Disables the sending of diagnostic and repair data to Microsoft. Startup Repair will not turn on networking after a failed repair attempt.


Prevents Windows RE from launching Startup Repair automatically when it is booted from optical media and a boot failure in the offline operating system has been detected.

  1. Save the file in your working Windows RE directory under \Sources\Recovery\Tools.