How can I create a bootable USB flash device running Windows Preinstallation Environment (PE) 2.0?

A. The new Windows PE built on Windows Vista proves far simpler to integrate onto a flash device than previous versions. (See also, "USB 1.1 devices do not work when you are running WinPE in Windows XP SP1?" and "Using a USB Flash Drive to Recover Windows Vista.")

Creating a bootable Windows PE instance on a USB flash device is simple:

1. After installing the Windows Automated Installation Kit, open a Windows PE Tools Command Prompt (Start, All Programs, Microsoft Windows AIK, Windows PE Tools Command Prompt).

2. Run the copype.cmd script with your architecture and specify a target folder (e.g., C:\temp\pe):

copype.cmd x86 c:\temp\pe

3. Follow the normal procedures for populating a Windows PE structure with ImageX and wimscript.ini, if you want these on the drive.

4. You now need to format the drive from Vista or Windows PE. (Note: Formatting must occur from one of these environments.) Format as FAT32 (quick format is fine).

5. You can now properly prepare for Windows PE. (You'll delete the previously mentioned format, but it sets up the drive, so it isn't a waste). Start a command prompt and run the DISKPART tool:

Microsoft DiskPart version 6.0.6000
Copyright (C) 1999-2007 Microsoft Corporation.
On computer: SAVDALWKS01

6. Within Diskpart, use the List Disk command to check which disk the USB device is. The USB device should be obvious; in this case, it's the 4GB disk.

DISKPART> list disk
Disk ### Status Size Free Dyn Gpt
-------- ---------- ------- ------- --- ---
Disk 0 Online 279 GB 88 GB
Disk 1 Online 190 GB 5780 KB
Disk 2 Online 233 GB 673 KB *
Disk 3 No Media 0 B 0 B
Disk 4 No Media 0 B 0 B
Disk 5 Online 3914 MB 0 B

7. Once the disk is known, select the disk and run the rest of the displayed commands (change "disk 5" to the number of your disk):

DISKPART> select disk 5
Disk 5 is now the selected disk.
DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk.
DISKPART> create partition primary
DiskPart succeeded in creating the specified partition.
DISKPART> select partition 1
Partition 1 is now the selected partition.
DISKPART> active
DiskPart marked the current partition as active.
DISKPART> format fs=fat32 quick
100 percent completed
DiskPart successfully formatted the volume.
DISKPART> assign
DiskPart successfully assigned the drive letter or mount point.
Leaving DiskPart...

8. Now, copy the contents of the ISO folder from the created Windows PE folder to the root of the USB device, where E: is the USB drive letter and where D:\temp\pe is the folder of the Windows PE environment:

D:\temp>xcopy d:\temp\pe\iso\*.* /s /e /f e:\

The device is now ready. If you insert it into a machine and select to boot from the USB device, you'll boot to the Windows PE environment.

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