“Windows could not parse or process the unattend answer file for pass [specialize]”


Today I got this interesting error when deploying new VMs from a pre-defined template with customizations. Its basically failing on Setup is applying system settings part and to be precise on specialize pass of Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup of unattend.xml file.

Here is the screenshot:

At this point the only option is to press OK which will cause the VM to reboot, needless to say it will be constantly rebooting never taking you back to the actual login screen. Trick to get us out of this one is dating back to old XP days and SCCM troubleshooting during task sequence issues – press F8! You should now have nice cmd window, navigate to C:\Windows\Panther\UnattendGC and look for file called setuperr.log, use notepad to open it up.

As you can see the god damn product key is not valid. A common issue when cloning customizations – you can end up cloning Server 2008 customizations and try to apply them to Server 2008 R2 which will obviously fail. Only the product key seems to matter, everything else will be exactly the same between the two operating systems from vCenter customizations perspective.

6 thoughts on ““Windows could not parse or process the unattend answer file for pass [specialize]”

  1. bowhunterwis

    I had this exact error occur when deploying an image with SCCM. The problem in my instance was I had a space in the computer name when entering the value for OSDComputername. I changed the OSDComputername without a space and bingo, error did not return

  2. Connor Stott

    Thank you so much, this helped me get on the right track! I Also checked the OSDComputername and realized it had a space in it. I ended up checking the Asset tag number in the BIOS and it was blank, so after adding the asset number, our deployment system read it and renamed the OSDComputername without a space

  3. Durgesh

    Thanks a ton!!!
    I was banging my head around it. I used SerialNumber variable as a computer name which was not applicable for VM so it failed. Then i checked the log file and got the cause. It really hepled me.

  4. Pingback: Horizon View 6: could not parse unattend answer file. | Piszki Lab | EN

  5. Chuck Baker

    In my case I had copied a task sequence and forgot to re-enter the password for the domain join account in apply network settings. The copy process removes the passwords.

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