By default, immediately after installation, Windows® starts Windows Welcome. However, you can configure a computer to boot to audit mode instead.
Audit mode enables you to customize a Windows installation without having to configure the user interface pages of Windows Welcome. During Windows Welcome, you are prompted to create user accounts and configure your location and time zone. By booting to audit mode you can ensure that the Windows image you are customizing would not have additional configurations that you would need to remove. Audit mode is ideal for making change to a Windows image before shipping a computer to a customer or capturing the image for reuse in your organization.
When Windows boots, there are two modes in which a computer can start:
- Windows Welcome.
Windows Welcome, also called Machine OOBE (out-of-box
experience), is the first user experience, and it prompts end users
to customize their Windows installation. End users create user
accounts, read and accept the Microsoft® Software License
Terms, and choose their language and time zones.
The oobeSystem configuration pass runs immediately before Windows Welcome starts. For more information about this configuration pass, see oobeSystem Configuration Pass.
- Audit Mode. Audit mode is used to add
customizations to Windows images. Audit mode does not require
settings in Windows Welcome to be applied. By bypassing
Windows Welcome, you can get to the desktop quicker and
perform your customizations. You can add additional device drivers,
install applications, and test the validity of the installation.
OEMs and corporations should use audit mode to complete their
manual customizations before shipping a computer to an end user. In
audit mode, settings in an unattended answer file in the
auditSystem and auditUser configuration passes are
processed. For more information about these configuration passes,
Configuration Pass and auditUser Configuration
In audit mode, you can:
- Bypass Windows Welcome. You can
access the desktop as quickly as possible. You do not have to
configure default settings such as a user account, location, and
- Install applications, add device drivers,
and run scripts. You can connect to a network and access
additional installation files and scripts. You can also install
additional language packs and device drivers.
- Test the validity of a Windows
installation before deploying the computer for the end user.
Before deploying to end users, you can perform tests on the system
without creating a user account. Then you can prepare the system to
start in Windows Welcome on the next boot.
- Add additional customizations to a
reference image. This reduces the number of images you need to
manage. For example, you can create a single reference image that
contains the basic customizations you want applied to all Windows
images. You can then boot the reference image to audit mode and
make additional changes specific to the computer. These changes can
be customer-requested applications or specific device drivers.
In default installations of Windows, the built-in administrator account is disabled. However, when you boot to audit mode, the built-in administrator account is enabled automatically, enabling you to log on to the computer.
In the auditSystem configuration pass, the built-in administrator account is enabled. However, after logging on to the system, the built-in administrator account is disabled during the auditUser configuration pass. This enables you to use audit mode with administrator privileges, but the next time the computer shuts down, the built-in administrator account will continue to be disabled. For more information, see Enable and Disable the Built-in Administrator Account.