I’m trying out some workstation deployment scenarios right now and need to use the Microsoft System Preparation Tool (SysPrep) to prepare my Windows XP SP2 build for imaging. The trouble is, that SysPrep was refusing to play ball reporting the following error message:
There is an incompatibility between this tool and the current operating system. Unable to continue.
Although there are other tools available for changing workstation SIDs, like Sysinternals NewSID, SysPrep is the only one supported by Microsoft.
I was using the version from the deploy.cab file on the Windows XP SP2 CD (dated 4 August 2004, 13:00), so I thought that a later version may be available but Microsoft knowledge base article 838080 links to an identical set of deployment tools and even indicates that the version on the SP2 CD is current.
It turns out that because the latest version of SysPrep can be used for either Windows XP or Windows Server 2003, it asks the Server service which operating system it is running on. If the server service is not running (e.g. if the File and Print Sharing for Microsoft Networks service is not installed), this fails.
The workaround is to install the File and Print Sharing for Microsoft Networks service, start SysPrep, and then uninstall the File and Print Sharing for Microsoft Networks service whilst SysPrep is working. I found the answer on the Microsoft Software Forum Network Unattended Windows board, but I’m amazed there is not a Microsoft knowledge base article on this.