After creating a virtual machine that you plan to use as a parent, configure the Windows environment. This virtual machine is also known as a master image.


  • Verify that you prepared a virtual machine to use for deploying remote desktops. See Creating a Virtual Machine for Cloning.

    The parent virtual machine, can either belong to the same Active Directory domain as the domain that the desktop machines will join or be a member of a workgroup.

  • Verify that the virtual machine was not converted from an instant clone or a View Composer linked clone.
    Important: You also cannot use an instant clone or a View Composer linked clones as a parent virtual machine.
  • When you install Horizon Agent on the parent virtual machine, select the VMware Horizon Instant Clone Agent option for instant clones or the VMware Horizon View Composer Agent option. See Install Horizon Agent on a Virtual Machine.

    To update Horizon Agent in a large environment, you can use standard Windows update mechanisms such as Altiris, SMS, LanDesk, BMC, or other systems management software. You can also use the push image or the recompose operation to update Horizon Agent.

    Note: For View Composer linked clones, do not change the log on account for the VMware View Composer Guest Agent Server service in a parent virtual machine. By default, this is the Local System account. If you change this account, the linked clones created from the parent will not start.
  • To deploy Windows machines, configure a volume license key and activate the parent virtual machine's operating system with volume activation. See Activating Windows on Instant Clones and Composer Linked Clones.
  • Verify that you followed the best practices for optimizing the operating system. See Optimizing Windows for Instant-Clone and Linked-Clone Virtual Machines.
  • Familiarize yourself with the procedure for disabling searching Windows Update for device drivers. See the Microsoft Technet article, "Disable Searching Windows Update for Device Drivers" at


  • Remove the DHCP lease on the parent virtual machine to avoid copying a leased IP address to the linked clones in the pool.
    1. On the parent virtual machine, open a command prompt.
    2. Type the ipconfig /release command.
  • Verify that the system disk contains a single volume.
    You cannot deploy linked clones from a parent virtual machine that contains more than one volume. Multiple virtual disks are supported.
    Note: For View Composer linked clones, if the parent virtual machine contains multiple virtual disks, when you create a desktop pool, do not select a drive letter for the View Composer persistent disk or disposable data disk that already exists on the parent virtual machine or that conflicts with a drive letter that is used for a network-mounted drive.
  • Verify that the virtual machine does not contain an independent disk.
    An independent disk is excluded when you take a snapshot of the virtual machine. Clones are based on a snapshot and therefore will not contain the independent disk.
  • For View Composer linked clones, if you plan to configure disposable data disks when you create linked-clone machines, remove default user TEMP and TMP variables from the parent virtual machine.
    You can also remove the pagefile.sys file to avoid duplicating the file on all the linked clones. If you leave the pagefile.sys file on the parent virtual machine, a read-only version of the file is inherited by the linked clones, while a second version of the file is used on the disposable data disk.
  • Disable the hibernation option to reduce the size of each clone's virtual disk.
  • Before you take a snapshot of the parent virtual machine, disable searching Windows Update for device drivers.
    This Windows feature can interfere with the customization process. As each clone is customized, Windows might search for the best drivers on the Internet for that clone, resulting in delays.
  • In vSphere Client, disable the vApp Options setting on the parent virtual machine.
  • On Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server 2012 R2 machines, disable the scheduled maintenance task that recovers disk space by removing unused features.
    For example: Schtasks.exe /change /disable /tn "\Microsoft\Windows\AppxDeploymentClient\Pre-staged app cleanup"

    For example, in the case of View Composer linked clones, this maintenance task can remove the Sysprep customization script after the linked clones are created, which would cause subsequent recompose operations to fail with customization operation timeout errors. For more information, see the Microsoft KB article available at

  • Disable the HotPlug capability on removable devices. See KB 1012225.

What to do next

Use vSphere Client or vSphere Web Client to take a snapshot of the parent virtual machine in its powered-down state. This snapshot is provides the base image for the clones.

Important: Before you take a snapshot, shut down the parent virtual machine.

Sometimes, restarting the virtual machine can result in an error. See KB 2094318 on how to resolve the issue.