Windows SIM Terminology

The following terms and definitions are used in Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM).

Terms and Definitions

Term Definition

answer file

A file that scripts the answers for a series of graphical user interface (GUI) dialog boxes. The answer file for Windows Setup is commonly called Unattend.xml. You can create and modify this answer file by using Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM) or the CPI APIs.

catalog file

A binary file that contains the state of all of the settings and packages in a Windows image. When a catalog is created, it queries the Windows image for a listing of all of the settings in that image. Because the contents of a Windows image can change over time, it is important that you recreate the catalog file whenever you update a Windows image.


A part of the Windows operating system that specifies the files, resources, and settings for a specific Windows feature or part of a Windows feature. Some components include Windows unattended installation settings, which can be used by OEMs and corporations for customization.

configuration pass

A phase of Windows installation. Different parts of the Windows operating system are installed in different configuration passes. You can specify Windows unattended installation settings to be applied in one or more configuration pass.

configuration set

A file and folder structure that contains the necessary files that control the preinstallation process and define the manufacturers' custom information.

distribution share

A folder that contains the source files for Windows products that you install. It may also contain additional device drivers and application files. This folder can be created manually or by using Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM).

driver path

A path that indicates where to retrieve the software that enables driver hardware or devices to function.

image value

The value of a configuration setting in a Windows image.

list item

A configuration setting that can have multiple entries. For example, an Internet Explorer Favorites list can contain zero or more favorite entries.


A group of files provided by Microsoft to OEM customers to modify Windows features. Package types include service packs, security updates, language packs, and hotfixes. Examples of packages include Product, Windows Foundation, and FeaturePack packages.


A parameter of a program or operating system configuration.

synchronous command

Enables you to run an application or other executable file during Windows Setup. You can specify the pass in which the command runs.

validate answer file

Before an answer file can be saved by Windows SIM, the settings must first be validated. When an answer file is validated successfully, all the setting values in the answer file can be applied to the Windows image.

Windows feature

An optional feature of Windows that can be enabled or disabled.

Windows image (.wim) file

A single compressed file containing a collection of files and folders that duplicate a Windows installation on a disk volume.

See Also


Windows SIM Architecture
Windows System Image Manager User Interface
Understanding Windows Image Files and Catalog Files
Understanding Distribution Shares and Configuration Sets
Understanding Answer Files
Understanding Settings and Properties