Yesterday I spent far too much time downloading and installing software on Windows Server 2008. I only had to install a simple server for SQL Server 2008 Express using Microsoft's Web Platform Installer, then configure it to enable remote connections. Everything had to be attended, wasting my time. On a Linux system, this would be trivial to automate, but this is Windows.
I do this very rarely, but in the future I would like to make this take as little time as possible. I could do a disc image with everything I installed and configured, but is there a better way? I know nothing of advanced deployment techniques on Windows. Ideally I would like to be able to remotely re-install the OS, or have an unattended install (which I know is possible). Any tips to make the software I need easier to and install and configure with minimal interaction necessary would be helpful. I don't expect everything I asked for to be possible and easy to do. Basically, If any part of it can be done quicker or at least without user input, that's what I'm looking for.