After speaking with someone one of my professors, I found that if you have syspreped the same image several times, it will not work.  Although he did not have an exact number of times he stated he stopped after 3 syspreps, and believes the limit is 5.  If you have syspreped, installed and then syspreped again several times, this solution will not work, nor will any other.  This may be the case for those of you who responded it was not working for you. If this doesn’t work and you have sysprepped more than a few times, try this article.

UPDATE 2: This is also a viable solution for Windows 8(.1) systems.

UPDATE 3 (January 2016): Reported to work on Windows 10 after sysprep.

If the below article does not provide a solution, please browse the comments as there have been several user submitted solutions that may help.

Over the past week I have been re-imaging the 13 computers in our public computer centre at work, and I came across a small problem. In the past, and by past I mean pre-college, I used to use a program called Norton Ghost to create images of my home system so that at a moments notice I could re-image my system and have all my applications installed without the hassle of re-installing everything manually, but those days are gone as Norton Ghost transformed into something entirely different. These days it is said that it is much easier to use Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK for short) however it is not without its issues, like most Microsoft products.

The issue arose after I did a sysprep to the original system and tried to reboot the system after I created my .wim image. Upon first boot I got a wonderful message on my screen that read:

Windows could not finish configuring the system. To attempt resume configuration, restart the computer

And after several unsuccessful reboots, the error message still returned, and always when it tried to start the services.

I searched several forums on the issue and tried every “correct answer” response I could find, to no avail.

One such “correct answer” was to remove the system from the domain before running sysprep, but as the systems I am dealing with are in a workgroup, this answer was obviously not correct for my situation. Another possible “correct answer” was to disable Avira Antivirus 32bit, this is close to a possible solution because I am running Avira on these systems, however I am running the 64bit version, and this is reported as having no issue at all on the processes, so again, this correct answer was a false positive (who votes that these are correct anyways?)

After trying several more “correct answers” I finally found the one true CORRECT ANSWER:

Somehow we managed to boot the machine.
Booting in Safe mode caused the same error message, but after it it did not reboot and continue to install drivers etc… The next normal boot was successful.

First thing to do now is a backup. We are so lucky.
Daniel AlbrechtIT Management & Coaching

Indeed booting into safe mode first, waiting for the message to appear, and then rebooting normally has fixed the issue, and has done so 10 times thus far.

Here is the forum where I actually found the correct answer, and its not the one listed as the “ACTUAL SOLUTION”, in fact is about a quarter of the way down the page with a bLack check-mark, not Blue one (what ever that means).

So thanks to Daniel, everything has been moving smoothly and I am able to get a system fully up and running in about an hour and a half instead of the usual five to six hours it takes to install all the software and configure the system manually.

Update from a commenter
A commenter, Bobby, found a solution for those running Server 2012 (should work for Windows 8(.1) as well).

If I may just add to help someone else who might be in my position. I syspreped a Server running Windows 2012. It fell in to the exact same problem you’ve described here. Problem is this Server was running in a Hyper-V VM, and wouldn’t give me the chance to apply F8 for Safe Mode on bootup. So when the error message came up, I did the following instead:

* Pressed Shift + F10 to get the command prompt.
* Run the command: ‘bcdedit /set {default} safeboot minimal’.
* Rebooted.
* When error message about safe mode subsequently came up after reboot, pressed Shift + F10 again.
* Ran the command: ‘bcdedit /deletevalue safeboot’.
* Rebooted.

Net result was it was then sorted, exactly as you described. It could well be my ignorance, and there may be a better way to get F8 to the VM, but certainly my attempts via Remote Desktop didn’t work. The above extra bit did the trick!