|Latest release||10.0.22621.1 / May 25, 2022|
Windows Preinstallation Environment (also known as Windows PE and WinPE) is a lightweight version of Windows used for the deployment of PCs, workstations, and servers, or troubleshooting an operating system while it is offline. It is intended to replace MS-DOS boot disks and can be booted via USB flash drive, PXE, iPXE, CD, DVD, or hard disk. Traditionally used by large corporations and OEMs (to preinstall Windows client operating systems on PCs during manufacturing), it is now widely available free of charge via Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (WADK) (formerly Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK)).
WinPE was originally intended to be used only as a pre-installation platform for deploying Microsoft Windows operating systems, specifically to replace MS-DOS in this respect. WinPE has the following uses:
The package can be used for developer testing or as a recovery CD/DVD for system administrators. Many customized WinPE boot CDs packaged with third-party applications for different uses are now available from volunteers via the Internet. The package can also be used as the base of a forensics investigation to either capture a disk image or run analysis tools without mounting any available disks and thus changing state.
Version 2.0 introduced a number of improvements and extended the availability of WinPE to all customers, not just corporate enterprise customers by downloading and installing Microsoft's Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK).
It was originally designed and built by a small team of engineers in Microsoft's Windows Deployment team, including Vijay Jayaseelan, Ryan Burkhardt, and Richard Bond.
The following versions are known to exist:
|1.0||The first release of Windows Preinstallation Environment, built from Windows XP RTM|
|1.1||Built from Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 1|
|1.2||Built from Windows Server 2003 RTM|
|1.5||Called Windows PE 2004; built from Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2|
|1.6||Called Windows PE 2005; built from Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1|
|2.0||Built from the first edition of Windows Vista. This version differs from the other versions since it doesn't need the disc to load all the files. This means that the download is now 992 MB in size instead of 60 MB from the previous versions. It's possible to modify the default startup disc to have access to a few plug-ins like Windows Management Instrumentation, Windows Scripting Host, additional drivers and other 32-bit applications (or 64-bit applications for 64-bit versions). Other new features include the capability for a rewritable RAM disk since WinPE version 1.x only has a recordable RAM disk.|
|2.1||Built from Windows Server 2008|
|2.2||Built from Windows Server 2008 SP2|
|3.0||Built from Windows 7 code base. It is included in WAIK 2.0.|
|3.1||Built from Windows 7 SP1 code base. It is included in a WAIK supplementary update provided by Microsoft.|
|4.0||Built from Windows 8 code base. It is included in WADK for Windows 8.|
|5.0||Built from Windows 8.1 code base. It is included in Windows ADK for Windows 8.1.|
|5.1||It is an update for version 5.0 that is applied manually.|
|10.0.10240.16384||Built from Windows 10, version 1507 code base. It is included in Windows ADK for Windows 10, version 1507.|
|10.0.10586.0||Built from Windows 10, version 1511 code base. It is included in Windows ADK for Windows 10, version 1511.|
|10.0.14393.0||Built from Windows 10, version 1607 code base. It is included in Windows ADK for Windows 10, version 1607.|
|10.0.15063.0||Built from Windows 10, version 1703 code base.|
|10.0.16299.15||Built from Windows 10, version 1709 code base.|
|10.0.17134.1||Built from Windows 10, version 1803 code base.|
|10.0.17763.0||Built from Windows 10, version 1809 code base.|
|10.0.18362.1||Built from Windows 10, version 1903 code base.|
|10.0.19041.1||Built from Windows 10, version 2004 code base.|
|10.0.20348.1||Built from Windows Server 2022 code base.|
|10.0.22000.1||Built from Windows 11, version 21H2 code base.|
|10.0.22621.1||Built from Windows 11, version 22H2 code base.|
Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) is a set of tools based on Windows PE to help diagnose and recover from serious errors which may be preventing Windows from booting successfully. Windows RE is installed alongside Windows Vista and later, and may be booted from hard disks, optical media (such as an operating system installation disc) and PXE (e.g. Windows Deployment Services). A copy of Windows RE is included in the installation media of the aforementioned operating systems. It is a successor to the Recovery Console.
Windows RE features include:
memtest.exeinstead of loading the operating system.
memtest.execannot be run inside Windows.
sfc /scannow) against an offline Windows installation and repair missing or corrupt files. Tools like
DISMcan be used to perform various system tasks like recovering or backing up files, managing partitions, and fix servicing-related issues respectively. In order to use the command prompt, the user must sign into an administrator account.
Starting with Windows Server 2012/Windows 8, the following additional options are added:
Windows 10 adds the following:
Volumes encrypted with Bitlocker can be mounted if a recovery key is available.
Windows Recovery Environment can also be installed to a hard drive partition by OEMs, and customized with additional tools such as a separate system recovery tool for restoring the computer back to its original state. As of Windows Vista SP1, users can create their own bootable CD containing the recovery environment.
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows|
Windows includes the
REAgentC command which is used to configure a Windows RE boot image and a push-button reset recovery image. It allows administration of recovery options and various customizations. The
REAgentC tool can either be used on an offline Windows image or on a running Windows system. The command requires administrator privileges.
Main article: Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack
Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT), sold as a part of Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, is yet another toolset based on Windows PE that performs diagnostic and recovery on an offline copy of Windows. It can manage files, edit Windows Registry, uninstall previously installed Windows updates, scan system for malware and restore deleted files.
Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) 2.0 is a minimal Win32 operating system with limited services, built on the Windows Vista kernel.
Windows® Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) 3.0 is a minimal Win32® operating system with limited services, built on the Windows® 7 kernel.
(WinPE) Windows PE 5.0 (WinPE) is a small operating system used to install, deploy, and repair Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 R2, and other Windows operating systems.
WinPE for Windows 8.1: Windows PE 5.1