Windows 2008 R2 Templates / Customization Specification / Local Administrator Password

I haven’t done much with templates in quite a while. Last week a client requested I assist with creating a Windows 2008 R2 template. We installed the base OS, did some minor configuration such as installing VMware Tools, enabling RDP and disabling the firewall using netsh, since this template would be used for various server types and we had no Internet access to patch the templates we stopped there. We shutdown the server and converted it to a template.

We then went and created a customization specification, the spec had an Administrator password set and had the server licensing set to per user, everything else was pretty straight forward.

To my surprise when creating a new VM from this template with this specification we couldn’t login, the Administrator password used in the template nor the one set in the specification worked.

When working with the client last week the only thing we got to work was a blank Administrator password in both the template and the customization specification. Not something I was happy about or recommended going to production with.

I came home and worked in my lab and had the exact same issues. After many tests scenarios the only thing that finally worked was enabling “Automatically logon as Administrator”.

After enabling this option having a password in the template and a different one in the customization specification the password in the customization specification worked.

I’m sure others have run into this but doing some searches, the only resolution I found was to use the blank passwords so I hope this helps someone who is seeing this same issue.

4 thoughts on “Windows 2008 R2 Templates / Customization Specification / Local Administrator Password

  1. Yes, that’s not obvious… but you should just wait %) don’t log in.
    The VM will reboot in a minute, system customization will be done and finally you’ll get the ability to log in with the new (from the spec) password.

  2. I believe the issue does not apply always. It all depends on the exact sysprep behavior with that particular OS installation/updates. E.g. see Tim Quan’s explanation of how sysprep may additionally reset password for server editions ( Also in vCloud Director/vCloud Air we actually had implemented a workaround so that the issue should never happen at all.

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