IME defaults to English instead of expected localization after OOBE (Out of Box Experience) on Windows 8

Applies to: Windows 8


Consider the following scenario:
  • You have a PC running a localized version of Windows 8. For example, the PC has Windows 8 Simplified Chinese installed on it.
  • You complete OOBE (Out of Box Experience) using the Express settings option.

In this scenario, the Input Method Editor (IME) will default to English (EN-US) instead of the expected localization.


This issue occurs because the system was not booted to OOBE prior to booting into Audit mode. As a result, the associated registry values were not populated.


You can use one of the two following methods to resolve this issue:

  • Allow the system to boot to the first prompt in OOBE and then use CTRL+Shift+F3 to boot to Audit mode.
  • If you are booting directly to Audit mode using an unattend file, use sysprep.exe with an unattend.xml file that configures IME to default to the desired localization. 

Below is a sample sysprep.exe command and unattend.xml:
sysprep.exe /oobe /reboot /unattend:<path to unattend.xml>

***** START sample unattend.xml *****
 <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
  <unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend">
        <settings pass="oobeSystem">
             <component name="Microsoft-Windows-International-Core" processorArchitecture="AMD64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="" xmlns:xsi="">

                <cpi:offlineImage cpi:source="wim:c:/oem/w8_x64/sources/install.wim#Windows 8 Consumer Preview" xmlns:cpi="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:cpi" />
***** END sample unattend.xml *****