Windows 365 – How to Build a Test Environment for Win32Apps using AutoPilot

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Application Lifecycle Management requires a fast and flexible test environment. The most commonly used are Hyper-V or VMware Workstation, but in this example I’m going to use VMware ESXi and deploy the Operation System using MDT / SCCM to boot to Out Of Box Experience (OOBE). The reason is simple, I need access to the environment from within my Windows 365 Cloud PC.

MDT / SCCM

For the deployment I’m using Windows 10 / 11 Professional with a Task Sequence step do delete the unattended.xml file (after Apply Operating System) so the VM boots straight to OOBE.

  • MDT: cmd.exe /c del %OSDisk%\Windows\Panther\unattend.xml
  • SCCM: cmd.exe /c del %OSDTargetSystemDrive%\windows\panther\unattend\unattend.xml

Something to be aware of when using VMware, is that because you’re jumping out of a regular deployment, VMware Tools are never installed. From the OOBE screen press Shift + F10 to enter command prompt. Mount VMware Tools and install it silently as shown below.

5 seconds after the screen flickers, you’re ready to reboot the VM to proceed to the next step to prepare the VM for Windows Autopilot. Now that the computer name shows in ESXi I normally rename the VM so I know it’s a VM deployed using Autopilot. Press Shift + F10 to enter command prompt.

After the device has been successfully imported, I shut down the VM and create a snapshot. Now I have an easy and fast way to revert back, instead of using the Reset this PC option which is way slower (it retains the drivers if you ever wondered). If everything worked okay with the Windows Autopilot registration, you should see your company branding and information.

I’ve created a Dynamic Security Group for the Devices using the following rule syntax.

This test environment is a MUST have tool for my day to day work to make sure that applications are installed and upgraded correctly. The same process above can be used to create VMs with your customer(s) tentant(s). Everything easily accessible via Windows 365 Cloud PC from anywhere.

Windows Sandbox

Windows Sandbox is my favorite tool when in the office. That combined with the amazing Run in Sandbox tool from MVP Damien Van Robaeys is a killer combo for anyone working with Application Lifecycle Management. It allows me to find / test install switches, find registry and file information needed for detection / requirement rules, extract .intunewin files to check if something is missing and so on.

The only tip I have is to install 7-Zip which is a requirement not listen in the documentation (on the PC running Windows Sandbox) to be able to extract .intunewin files.

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