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Windows could not parse or process the unattend answer file for pass [specialize].


fllorente
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Hello,

I'm trying to deploy the platform on a Lenovo Thinkpad T430s. When the deployment reaches the specialize phase, I'm getting the following error:

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-Deployment].

As the same platform is working smoothly on a Lenovo Thinkpad T440s, I discarded since the beginning that it could be an error on my scripts. After checking the unattended.xml file at %SystemRoot%\Panther, I've found that my specialize script is being called from drive letter D:

<RunSynchronousCommand wcm:action="add">
	<Path>D:\z\Specialize.cmd</Path>
	<Order>1</Order>
</RunSynchronousCommand>

I have opened a cmd window when I got the error and the USB flash drive was on drive letter E:. Then I have restarted the computer, booting again from the USB flash drive, opened a CMD window on the SmartDeploy Welcome screen and (surprise!) this time the USB flash drive was on drive letter D:. I've checked the DVD drive to discard a problem with WinPE drivers and it is working correctly on drive letter E:

So it looks that the problem is that the drive letters of the USB flash drive DVD drive are being swapped: at the first WinPE boot from the USB flash drive, the flash drive gets letter D: and the DVD drive gets letter E:, so when the unattend.xml file is generated it points to letter D: But, after one of the reboots, the flash drive gets letter E: and the DVD drive gets letter D:

On the Lenovo Thinkpad T430s the workaround is to extract the optical drive while the computer is being imaged. Thank god there's no need to enter BIOS to disable the optical drive, as our platform is being designed to be launched by an end user in case of need... But this is just a temporary workaround.

So, the question is: how can this be fixed?

Maybe there is a way to change the drive letter on startup, or maybe there is a setting in the Platform Pack, or maybe some hacking in the unattend.xml file ... I don't know. :-(

Thanks a lot in advance for your kind help.

-- Javier Llorente

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Hi Javier,

The “Windows could not parse or process the unattended answer file for pass [specialize]..” error normally points to a Windows PID issue. Did you enter the Windows Key when you captured your virtual reference machine or did you enter the key at deploy time? If it is baked into your image then you will have to recreate your WIM with a good key. If you are entering the key in the Deploy Wizard there might be a typo issue.

Thanks,

SmartDeploy Support

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Hi Admin,

The “Windows could not parse or process the unattended answer file for pass [specialize]..” error normally points to a Windows PID issue.

I know that, it's in the KB: Windows Could Not Parse Or Process Unattended Answer File. But that is a different error: as you can see in the complete error message, when there's an error with the PID the error message refers to component [Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup], while in this case the error is referred to component [Microsoft-Windows-Deployment].

The related part on the unattend.xml file generated on the fly by SmartDeploy wizard goes as follow:

<RunSynchronousCommand wcm:action="add">
	<Path>D:\z\Specialize.cmd</Path>
	<Order>1</Order>
</RunSynchronousCommand>

As you can see it is pointing to drive D:, but at the Specialize phase the USB flash drive is already on drive E:; that's why I'm getting this fail.

I've also tried to point the command using the environment variable %SmartDeploy_Media%, as it's been recommended on another thread (as you can see, I've done my homework ;) ), this way:

%SmartDeploy_Media%\z\Specialize.cmd

It has failed again, though. Now I'm trying again by using %comspec% /c to run the script, as it's recommended on the thread The Postimage Task, full command goes as follow:

%comspec% /c %SmartDeploy_Media%\z\Specialize.cmd

The image is still being deployed, I'll tell you if it works :-)

Regards,

-- Javier Llorente

P.D. By the way, the 'Edit my profile' link here on the forum is giving an error.

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  • 3 months later...

As of today we are receiving this exact same message when deploying "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 detected while processing settings for component [Microsoft-Windows-Deployment]." to a Dell Latitude E6420 laptop. We have tried multiple times with multiple E6420s.

SmartDeploy Version - c1.1.5010

Is there a solution to the problem?

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Hi IT Support!

I finally could not manage to make it work using the %SmartDeploy_Media% variable. As most computers in my scope are Lenovo Thinkpad T440s (which does not have DVD drive) and Lenovo Thinkpad T430s (which have an easily removable DVD drive), I haven't made further tests since my last post in April.

For those models that does not have an easily removable optical drive, I've found a second workaround that has worked for us. You just have to burn a DVD containing the \z\ folder from the flash drive with all the files and subfolders, except for the Default.ppk and the image wim file to be deployed. Depending on what you are doing in your specialize script, that may easily fit on a CD or a single layer writable DVD. Just putting that disk on the drive after the first reboot would prevent the Specialize script failure. This workaround is valid for me because I have just around a dozen units of the problematic model but it won't be feasible if you have a large amount of computers.

Hope it will help. Best regards,

-- Javier Llorente

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As of today we are receiving this exact same message when deploying "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 detected while processing settings for component [Microsoft-Windows-Deployment]." to a Dell Latitude E6420 laptop. We have tried multiple times with multiple E6420s.

SmartDeploy Version - c1.1.5010

Is there a solution to the problem?

We have updated the E6420 platform pack and you shouldn't run into this issue anymore.

Thanks,

SmartDeploy Support

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I'm using Windows 7 on this particular corporate image. We've used it on a number of Dell laptops, this is the first one it hasn't worked on.

And to make sure it wasn't the main default.ppk file possibly causing the error due to too many .ppk's all within one.. I just renamed the E5540.ppk to default.ppk and selected that when Imaging.

My guess is whatever you guys did to update that ppk for that gentlemen, may have to be updated for the E5540 as well.

Many thanks!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi!

I'm still having this issue, but now the Deployment project has entered the second phase and the scope is much wider, so this is going to be a big issue.

I've confirmed the drive letter swapping issue: when booting the Windows PE from the SmartDeploy USB media, the USB flash drive gets drive letter D: while the DVD drive gets drive letter E:, but once the image has been applied and the system boots from the hard drive, the DVD drive gets drive letter D: and the USB flash drive gets drive letter E:, the specialize script cannot be found and the deployment fails.

As far as I've tested, the %SmartDeploy_Media% variable is empty as a global variable in both Windows PE environment and at the Specialize phase; the test have been made by just opening a Command Prompt and trying "echo %SmartDeploy_Media%".

I'm going to rebuild my media using SmartDeploy latest version 1.1.5010, but I don't think it will solve this issue. I'll post here the test results; in the meanwhile any idea for a suitable workaround will be welcome.

Thanks in advance and best regards,

-- Javier Llorente

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Hello,

I've rebuilt the deployment media using SmartDeploy latest version 1.1.5010 (x64) and it's still failing. This time, the %SmartDeploy_Media% variable contains the drive letter of the media as a global variable in Windows PE environment, but it is empty at the Specialize phase; the test have been made as before by just opening a Command Prompt and trying "echo %SmartDeploy_Media%".

More testing tomorrow...

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  • 1 month later...

When using one of the new Windows 10 Driver Packs for a Dell Latitude E6440 and adding a Task (Specialize / Mini-Setup) , we receive the error "Windows could not parse or process the unattend answer file for pass [specialize]. The settings specified in the answer files cannot be applied. The error detected while processing setting for component [Microsoft-Windows-Deployment]." This ONLY happens when deploying to Dell Latitude E6440 with Windows 10.

We can deploy to the same Dell Latitude E6440 using the same Boot Media and the same Answer File using Windows 7 and there is no issue. There is something wrong with the Windows 10 driver pack for the E6440 that will not allow us to complete a deployment if we have specified a Task.

Can you find a solution to this problem?

SmartDeploy Version 2.0.1010 / DellLatitudeE6440-Windows10.ppk

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After reviewing the platform pack it looks to be in working order. Ensure your product key is good. If it's baked into the image, try recapturing with a good key. If you still have issues, shoot us an e-mail at support@smartdeploy.com and we can gather some logs from you to investigate further.

Thanks,

SmartDeploy Support

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Yes, the product key is good and it is baked in the image. I can deploy the image successfully with the DellLatitudeE6440-Windows10.ppk if I do not attempt to setup a Task in the Driver Pack using Platform Manager. If I do create a task using Platform Manager with this Windows10.ppk then I receive the error. EVERY time. I can create the same Task in the Windows7.ppk with no issues. We have been successfully using the same task for ALL of our Driver Packs since purchasing SmartDeploy. UNTIL the Windows10 Driver Pack.

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Within Platform Manager I am performing the following steps (which work perfect when performed on the Windows 7 .ppk):

  1. I expand the Dell Latitude E6440 and then right click on Windows 10 (x64)
  2. Select ADD, then I browse to C:\Setup and press OK
  3. This adds Setup to the .ppk
  4. I then select Setup
  5. On the right I click Add under Tasks
  6. I select Phase: Specialize / Mini-Setup
  7. then I enter C:\Setup\DellDock.exe /s in the Command Line and press OK
  8. I then select File and Save

this works for Windows 7 drive packs...... (and I know the Dell Dock runs on Windows 10)

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