Disable F12 confirmation at PXE boot into WinPE

When you are performing a PXE boot, most of the time you need to press F12 to trigger the PXE boot action. Then after connection is initiated with the PXE server, the boot rom image asks for the F12 key to be pressed again. If the key is not pressed, the machine will continue to boot normally into the installed OS (if available). This can be confusing for some Admins because they except the client to boot through to the Boot image, or maybe they want to create a fully automated OSD Deployment.

Configuration:

Configuration Manager 1610 on Windows server 2016

So to disable the secondary F12 key, we need to take a look at our Distributions volume and browse to: RemoteInstall\SMSBoot\x86 and x64

Here we see multiple files that will be used trough the boot time, but there are only two files that we need to change to achieve our goal:

  • pxeboot.com – this is the default file that is loaded by the client through the PXE boot process
  • pxeboot.n12 – this file is the same as pxeboot.com, but is not loaded in the boot process now

To configure all clients to boot without pressing F12, rename the startup boot files in x86 and x64 folder:

  • Change pxeboot.com to pxeboot.bak
  • Change pxeboot.n12 to pxeboot.com

Restart the WDS service:

Restart-Service -Name “WDSServer” -Force

That’s it, now you should be able to PXE boot without pressing F12 twice to confirm booting to the WDS server. I hope this was useful, in case you have any questions, please contact me.