26 May 2016

Windows 10: Windows could not parse or process the unattend answer file for pass [specialize]

I am in the beginning stages of working on upgrading the firm I work at to Windows 10. Using MDT, The OS would inject drivers and lay down with no issues. Upon the first reboot, it would pop up the following error message:

The first thing I did was to look at the Unattend.xml file by opening the task sequence properties--->OS Info tab. When I looked under the Specialize--->Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup, everything looked normal, except for one thing. The product code was showing the code for Windows 7 and I had entered the code during the task sequence setup phase. I proceeded to change to the correct Windows 10 product code. The same error came up again. At that point, I cleared every field within the Specialize--->Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup by right-clicking and selecting Revert Change. The same issue occurred again. I hit Shift-F10 to pull up a command line. I got the c:\windows\panther files copied to a thumb drive and looked at the logs on my other machine. I saw the following errors in the setupact.log file:

At this point, I decided to completely delete the task sequence and start all over. The issue persisted. Finally, I deleted the Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup from the Specialize component. I re-imaged the machine and it now goes through the first bootup/setup phase with no problems. I already use PowerShell to set the product code after the image is laid down, so that was not a big deal.

After deleting the Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup, the image went through successfully, but I ran into other issues. The system was not joined to the domain and was not named for the computer name I set.

I added the amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup_neutral back to the 4 specialize component. I then right-clicked on the ComputerName setting and selected Write Empty String as shown below.

I proceeded to reimage the machine and it imaged successfully, joined the domain, and had the correct computer name.

NOTE: I just verified this fix also works with Windows 10 1709 using MDT 6.3.8450.1000.


  1. Did you sysprep the machine prior of taking the image. This is not new started with Windows 7. Prior to take an image you should sysprep the pc and then take the image from it.

    1. Yes. It was sysprepped before I took the image.

  2. I'm having the same issue but even when removing amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup_neutral. Is your problem fixed now? I searched a lot and found nothing, thank you.