Create a custom GUI for Windows PE

In this column I will demonstrate how to create a GUI front end for Windows Preinstallation Environment (PE), a tool that allows you create custom Windows PE images.

You will need two things: Windows PE (preferably 1.6, which is what I have been developing with) and an OS source. You are better off using a Windows 2003 Server source, integrated with Service Pack 1. That way you can create a custom version of Windows PE that runs in RAM.

The GUI front-end version that I am posting is by no means complete, but it is fully working. I intend to improve upon this product as time goes by, so please drop me an e-mail if you want to contribute some ideas.

At the moment, this version's code is a bit messy, and I would rather people didn't try to adapt the code right now. What I want to do is get it to a stage where all the current bugs (and we know there are going to be some) have been ironed out. Then I will fully document the code and create a general framework for you all to use. I created the program as an HTML application (HTA) with VBSCRIPT as the code language, so it should be easily adaptable in the long run.

Download File: 10740cpe.zip (

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  1. Create a folder called C:\windowsPE
  2. Create a subfolder
  3. C:\windowspe\winpe
  4. Copy the windows pe source files into the c:\windowspe\winpe folder
  5. Download the attached zip file and uncompress the files into the C:\windowspe\winpe folder.
  6. Run the current.hta program

The program is very simple and self-explanatory. What you have to bear in mind is the following:
You must specify:
MKIMG configuration (first four options)
Custom background (just pick the normal winpe.bmp if you don't want to change it).

At the moment there is very little error-checking in the program, so if you see a problem, let me know and I will resolve it. I am working error-checking into the code but before I get too carried away, I want to get some feedback from you all. I hope you find this applet helpful.


Paul Davey is a technology development consultant for Atkins, a multinational company specializing in engineering. He can be reached at Paul.E.Davey@Atkinsglobal.com.

This was first published in June 2005

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