VMware ESX Deploy Template Wizard and MS SYSPREP – Guest Customization Grayed Out

ESX Virtual Center has the functionality to allow you to customize any templated Windows OS builds you may have.

Templates are used to ease and speed the process of deploying new Windows based VM OS’s.  Clones can be made of these templates and if prepared with the ‘Deploy Template Wizard’ or Microsoft SYSPREP the OS is individualised.

It should be pointed out that the ‘Deploy Template Wizard’ does in fact use SYSPREP to prepare the templated OS if you want to customize a new VM server instance based on that template.  Also in case you didn’t realise VMware Virtual Center is required to create and deploy templates. 

The ‘Deploy Template Wizard’ can be started by right mouse clicking a template from within Virtual Center (below).


Stepping through the wizard, once you get to ‘Guest Customization’ you may only be presented with one option, ‘Do not customize’.  The other two options being grayed out.


The reason for this is that the server on which Virtual Center is running doesn’t have Microsoft SYSPREP installed into the correct directory.  This however is easily remedied. 

Take a look on the VC server in the path:

“C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataVMwareVMware VirtualCentersysprep”. 


Underneath here you will see sub-folders for Windows 2000 and for x86 and x64 versions of Server 2003 and XP. Each OS requires unique and specific versions of SYSPREP. 

Links to download the different versions of SYSPREP are below:

Windows Server 2003 SP1 x86 SYSPREP  – Link

… then install Windows Server 2003 SP2 x86 SYSPREP – Link

Windows Server 2003 SP2 x64 SYSPREP – Link

Windows Server 2000 SYSPREP – Link

Windows XP SP3 SYSPREP – Link

Download and extract what ever version(s) of SYSPREP you require and add them into the folder outlined above.


Once these files have been copied and you run through the ‘Deploy Template Wizard’ you’ll notice that the other 2 options in the ‘Guest Customization’ are now enabled.


You will notice that when customizing a VM based on a template the options given pretty much mirror those presented with the Windows SYSPREP manager.

Happy cloning !


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26 Comments on "VMware ESX Deploy Template Wizard and MS SYSPREP – Guest Customization Grayed Out"

3 years 9 months ago

I’m having an issue with deploying 2003 vm’s. According to vmware (http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1005593)the sysprep files required to deploy/customize 2003sp1 and 2003sp2 vm’s are to be stored in the svr2003 folder located on the vCenter server. However, 2003sp1 and 2003sp2 require different versions of the sysprep.exe file thereby overwriting one another when placed in the svr2003 folder. With that said, how is it possible to deploy both versions in your environment if they require different sysprep? At this point, my 2003sp1 customization fails as the 2003sp2 sysprep was placed in the svr2003 folder as instructed by vmware.

4 years 2 months ago

Any suggestion for JMason post ?

I have exactly the same problem…. with the same infrastructure.
My Win 2003 is R2 SP2 32bit.


4 years 5 months ago



i cannot get the cusomtizations to apear for windows 2003 R2 32bit

I have vcenter on 2008 and have installed Sp1 and Sp2 sysprep to the sysprepsvr2003 folder in programdatavmware

please see the attached for the directory contents

any help appriciated

4 years 8 months ago


I have few question regarding installing template in the virtual machine. First thing, is it possible to install any template in a Virtual Machine? I tried installing template but I am getting an error like “Number of CPUs. Expected value: 1, found: 0″. But the VM already has a CPU present and detectable albeit through the system information.

I am intending to achieve virtualization using the VM in template environment for trial. This VM contains RAM of 8GB and Disk space of 150 GB.

The installation started fine with the regulation template screens but failed later with the above error.

Nathan Hammes
5 years 4 months ago

No – you don’t run Sysprep.exe on the VC – that will basically wipe it out. You just need to copy the appropriate versions of Sysprep into the correect directories on the VC server. I believe the default path is “C:D&SAll UsersApplication DataVMwareVMware VirtualCentersysprep” – there you need to create the directories (if not already created) for each different version of sysprep…

Hope that helps.