WIM Witch: Customizing Windows 10 images with a GUI

When deploying Windows 10, many administrators do not use the standard image provided by Microsoft; rather, they customize it according to their own requirements. This includes the integration of updates, language files, and drivers. The free WIM Witch simplifies this process with a GUI.
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There are basically two ways to create a customized OS image. One option is to install the operating system in a VM, adapt it, generalize it with sysprep, and use DISM to capture it again as a WIM. The other option is offline servicing, where you mount install.wim, add or remove components, and save the changes.

GUI for offline servicing ^

For the offline method, Microsoft provides DISM as the standard tool; alternatively, the PowerShell module based on it can be used. With this tool, the user has to carry out all steps manually, from mounting the image to inserting drivers, updates, optional features and language packs, to the final dismount and commit. DISM, in particular, with its less intuitive syntax, makes this a complex task.

This is where Donna Ryan comes in with WIM Witch. It offers a GUI that covers all the above-mentioned aspects of image customization. The software is available as a PowerShell script and can be installed using PowerShellGet.

WIM Witch can be installed via PowerShellGet from the PowerShell gallery

WIM Witch can be installed via PowerShellGet from the PowerShell gallery

To do this, open a session with elevated privileges and enter the following command:

As usual, the PowerShell Gallery is not accepted as a trustworthy repository, so you have to explicitly confirm the installation of the script again. Accordingly, you will find it under the following location:

%ProgramFiles%\WindowsPowerShell\Scripts

Setting up the workspace ^

It is not intended that you use the script from the location mentioned above. Rather, you must first set up a directory as a workspace.

Selecting the target directory for the copy of WIM Witch

Selecting the target directory for the copy of WIM Witch

If you call WIMWitch.ps1 from the above-mentioned directory, the script will copy itself into the current directory by default. Alternatively, you can specify a different folder as the destination via a file dialog box.

Checking requirements ^

Now start the copy from the specified working directory. When it is first executed, the tool creates the workspace directory tree under which it will later store all the files it needs to customize the image. It then checks whether it is running in the newest version and offers to update itself if necessary.

At startup, WIM Witch checks various requirements, including the status of the script and PS modules

At startup, WIM Witch checks various requirements, including the status of the script and PS modules

In addition, WIM Witch checks whether the modules OSDUpdate and OSDSUS are installed in the most current version. They are needed to download Windows updates if you want to integrate them into the image.

Importing the standard image ^

The graphical user interface now appears, with a total of ten tabs. The first step is to import install.wim for Windows 10 or Server 2016/2019 that you want to customize.

The tool only accepts the ISO file of the installation media, which it mounts and then copies the Windows image from there to the folder imports\WIM. If required, you can also import the package for the .NET Framework from this source.

To import install.wim, WIM Witch needs the path to the installation ISO

To import install.wim, WIM Witch needs the path to the installation ISO

Next, select the imported file under the Source WIM tab. This opens a dialog box with a list of all editions of the OS that are included in install.wim. Select the one you want to deploy later.

Selecting the edition of Windows 10 to be customized

Selecting the edition of Windows 10 to be customized

Features on demand and language packs ^

From here on in, it is a matter of adding packages to the image or removing them. For example, you can load language packs and features on demand via the Import LP + FOD tab.

Adding features on demand to the image, such as the RSAT

Adding features on demand to the image, such as the RSAT

Here, too, WIM Witch copies the necessary files into the workspace and then opens a window based on Out-GridView within the Customizations tab, from which the required FoDs can be selected.

Integrating updates into the image ^

One common concern is to provide an image with the latest updates before deployment, so that the freshly installed computers are protected from the beginning. WIM Witch uses the PowerShell modules OSDUpdate and OSDSUS, mentioned above, for the download. They can be installed directly from the GUI under the Update Store tab.

The PowerShell modules required to download the updates can be installed from WIM Witch

The PowerShell modules required to download the updates can be installed from WIM Witch

After that, you can download the updates for the required version of the operating system. For this, the script uses the cmdlet Start-BitsTransfer. If you start up WIM Witch as a standard user in a session with administrative rights, it will fail with an error message that the user is not logged in. If you run the tool without extended rights, other problems will arise.

To avoid this problem, you should log on to Windows with a privileged account before you open a PowerShell window with elevated rights.

When WIM Witch is running in a PowerShell administrative session, downloading updates fails if you are logged on to Windows as the default user

When WIM Witch is running in a PowerShell administrative session, downloading updates fails if you are logged on to Windows as the default user

Alternatively, you could save your configuration under the Save/Load tab, restart the tool as a standard user, import the configuration you just saved, and then download the updates. Then switch back to the session with elevated privileges and reload the configuration.

If you want to insert drivers into the image, enter the paths to the respective files on the appropriate tab.

Removing apps ^

Another common requirement may be to remove the store apps supplied by Microsoft in the image. WIM Witch can also take on this task. For this purpose, it displays a list of all apps provided in install.wim under the corresponding tab. Select the ones you would like to get rid of.

Unwanted apps can be removed from the image

Unwanted apps can be removed from the image

Saving the configuration and starting the build ^

Once you have configured all customizations, you can generate the new image. However, if you need more images based on the same template in the future, you should save the configuration using Save/Load.

The build process can be started with the Make it So button, where you can enter a name for the target image before you trigger the command. By default, WIM Witch writes it to the CompletedWIMs folder.

Creating the customized WIM using the Make it so button

Creating the customized WIM using the Make it so button

After the customized image is successfully generated, it is recommended to clean up the directory tree under WIM Witch. There, you will not only find the imported install.wim, but the tool will also create a work copy of the WIM it under Staging. Each is larger than 4GB; in addition, there is the custom image with a similar size.

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16 Comments
  1. Great post and tool. Used that right away to optimize standard company image 🙂 Thanks

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  2. Wolfgang, I have removed several apps from the image, but after the installation I got in Start menu just Blue tiles with arrow down, instead of for example XBOX thing that I removed. (sorry cant share picture here). When I click the tile, it opens a Store app and in few seconds all tiles are back with their fancy icons, like Netflix, Candy Crush Saga and so on.

    Would you know if there is any easy way to get rid of this from Start menu after deployment?

    Thanks

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    • To give you a specific example - I have removed Microsoft Solitaire Collection app. After image deployment there was that blue icon, when I click it once then I get back Solitare Icon and when I click it again, the app is downloading to the system.

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    • I was playing with the image a bit more and seems that this is standard behavior. The apps are removed from the image, tho the built-in Start Menu layout has no information about it. 

      The solution is to clean Start Menu after deployment and use Powershell to export it:

      and then import it to the system drive:

      This affects all newly created user, not the current one. If you want the same menu also for the first admin user, you need to create new account and delete the current one.

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  3. Donna Ryan 5 months ago

    Thank you for this wonderful review! Good idea pointing out the administrative requirements!

    If anyone needs further documentation or wants to report a bug, there are links for all of these at https://www.scconfigmgr.com/wimwitch/

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    • Hey Donna,

      great tool over there! I was a bit worried about syspreping the image afterwards, as I experienced such case when provisioned xapps were removed, but it seems its not the case with this one! All working great.

      A tip for those who want to put the customized image back to ISO for burning or using in VM environment. A simply and easy to use tool available at Softpedia - Windows Bootable ISO Creator.

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  4. aaron 3 months ago

    I don't think the remove app part works

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  5. MILTON A JOVEL MELENDEZ 2 months ago

    Hello Donna, excellent tool, however, as youw know, there is a new windows image format ".esd" instead of ".wim" and the tool isn´t able to read the file's content.

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    • You can use this tool to convert ESD to WIM - https://www.winreducer.net/winreducer-es-wim-converter.html

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      • MILTON A JOVEL MELENDEZ 2 months ago

        Thank you Leos, I use powershell o dism commands to convert .esd to .wim; I already have the .wim file; but, what are the the next steps?

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        • If I recall correctly, the tool requires you to select Windows ISO in Import-WIM tab. It will then extract the WIM automatically to its own working directory, based on which edition you select to work with. That will be visible in Source WIM tab.

           

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          • MILTON ARISTIDES JOVEL MELENDEZ 2 months ago

            Yes, I see it now!!!!.... I apreciate your help.

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    • Or you can still download classic ISO from sites like MSDN or other sources. 🙂

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  6. JE 1 month ago

    I've just used  this  tool to remove a number of Windows Built in Apps from  W10  x64 build 2004.

    I then exported the modified WIM & imported it in to the latest version of MDT

    After deploying the WIM via a task sequence that reported no errors, to a newly created VM - all of the removed built in Apps are all still in the start menu!?

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  7. JE 1 month ago

    Just to clarify - my issue is definitely not just a start menu placeholder issue  as others have reported on  here - the apps are actually still present on the system, and run if I open them.

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    • From my experience the placeholder was there, and when I clicked it, the app was downloaded.

      I have stepped out from the app removal, as I had bad experience with weird system behavior afterwards. I rather use post deploy script that removes the app for specific user and defines Start menu layout.

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