I'm looking for a way to install Windows Faster and let it run automaticly.

We do daily installations of Windows XP, Windows Vista and soon Windows 7.
We are currently using the following procedure:

  • Install from CD/DVD.
  • Install all the drivers.
  • Install the service pack if the CD/DVD doesn't provide it.
  • Install all the remaining windows updates.

Sometimes we get computers from brands where we use the following procedure:

  • Install from hard-drive image.
  • Install the service pack as the hard-drive image does not provide it.
  • Install all the remaining windows updates.

An USB stick is indeed part of the solution, but these tend to be too small to cover all possible combination's. So, you don't have to suggest this as we might continue using CD/DVD or an external USB drive as I already know. I want to point out here that we want to discuss speeding and automating the procedure regardless of the used media/hardware.

We know of the existence of the Windows AIK tools and nlite, although we stopped this technique as it takes too much time to slipstream the service pack, updates and drivers in each Windows version (For example in Vista: Home Premium, Ultimate, ...). It seems you can't do all versions at the same time... And doing them all apart is a bit wicked if you just want to integrate some new updates in an already slip-streamed installation ISO.

It currently takes around 1-2 hours to complete the installation procedure.

My questions:

  • Is there an easier way to slipstream drivers, packs and updates for all versions at the same time?
  • Is there a way to boost the brand computers in the same way without breaking the contract?
  • If not, would it be wise to develop an update tool that performs all these actions in a row?
  • ... (I thought I had more questions, but if I come up with one I'll update it right away)

For Windows Vista/7, you really should have a look into the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit. It can also help with Windows XP, although Vista/7 offer significant improvements in deployment.

  • Seems very interesting! Except the Featured Videos I don't see much information that's useful to me yet. But well, it's pretty late and I should check each link in detail tomorrow... Thanks so far! I'm going to wait some days to check for more answers on the other questions I posed, if your question seems to be the right thing I'm looking for I'll accept it. ;-) – Tom Wijsman Sep 13 '09 at 20:34
  • I've tried it, seems perfect so I'm going to accept your answer. Still looking for a way to integrate SP2 in a Vista SP1 DVD though as those seem not to be available yet. :-( – Tom Wijsman Sep 19 '09 at 23:08
  • You can capture a Vista image from a reference system where you applied SP2 and latest updates; then you deploy that instead of the base system image you have on the install media. – Massimo Sep 20 '09 at 2:47

What exactly do you want to achieve from this? "Install Windows faster" is pretty general, and your description so far leads me to believe that what you're looking for is something that will give you a one-time-only procedure for all versions of Windows on all possible hardware.

I'm sorry but that just doesn't exist. Service packs and updates are different for different versions of Windows (same as you can't install a Mac OS X update on Mac OS 9), so a procedure for Windows 7 will not be valid for Windows XP.

You really need to backtrack to the Windows AIK and start looking at that again. Some other imaging software would also suffice. Take your baseline installation, patch it up fully, then create an image from it. Then bring the image back down onto your target machines. This will take some time and practice to get right, but you can get down to a 10 minute install time for most PCs using it.

You would then look to implement a patch management solution like WSUS so that you don't actually need an image refresh every time a new set of patches come out. Look after things properly and you'll find that you only need an image refresh every time there is a major hardware and/or software change - once per 12 to 18 months would be roundabout right.

You'll need a separate image for each version of Windows, and unfortunately I'm getting the impression that this is something you don't want. Again, something to handle all versions of Windows in one fell swoop just does not exist. I think you might be asking for too much.

Use of an imaging toolkit may seem like "too much time" right now, but it's a tradeoff of time spent up-front vs time spent longer term, and in any non-trivial environment it should work out as substantially less time spent over the course of about a year.

Speaking of environments, some better description of your's would really be helpful here. I'm finding it puzzling that you seem to be doing a lot of Windows installs, to the extent that it looks as though you have a fairly large network, but yet you don't seem to have standardised on an OS, hardware, or a vendor. If this is the case, I might suggest that you're going about things from the wrong direction, and you really need to get this standardisation in place before you consider OS deployment strategies.

That's all I can say for now given the info we've got.

  • With version I meant "Vista Home Premium" or "Vista Ultimate", I understand that XP and Vista require separated images. Example: We don't want to slipstream for each version of Vista apart and merge it back after, but just once for all versions of Vista... The Windows installations happen in a store where we sell all kinds of computers, there is no such thing as standardization. I don't understand what information you are missing, we are doing a lot of installs a day but they all take a lot of effort to complete, we would like to spent less time on this procedure. Thank you for your efforts... – Tom Wijsman Sep 14 '09 at 0:49
  • Okay, changed my mind and thus edited the question a bit accordingly to make it more clear, should read it twice myself next time to avoid this mess. I will try the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit said by Massimo as soon as possible and close the question if it meets our needs. If not, I'll look forward in improving my question to get better results. Let's hope MPT is what AIK was supposed to be, not to mention nLite or vLite. :-) – Tom Wijsman Sep 14 '09 at 1:19

We have had great success with Unattended, which extends the MS unattended installation system with perl scripts for installing updates, additional software, etc. It's a little bit idiosyncratic, but once you have it set up, you can install a new machine just by having it boot from the network.

  • Looks like a good alternative, I'll look into it if I consider it has benefits over MDT. – Tom Wijsman Sep 15 '09 at 16:30

Seems like you need nlite. http://www.nliteos.com/

It will give you most of the functionality you want except boot from USB, AFAIK.

  • I'm sorry, but this works the same as AIK, it requires me to integrate the service packs, updates and drivers once for each Windows versions and then merge them again. Any way to do this integration only once? As time goes on we might want to add more stuff without having to do the integration procedure all over again. – Tom Wijsman Sep 13 '09 at 20:07
  • @TomWij - This is the unfortunate part, you will always need to update the media again and again, even when using disk images you are still going to have to recreate the image everytime there is a major change. – BinaryMisfit Sep 13 '09 at 20:22
  • It's some time ago, but I think that's not true, I have used this before and it's easy to integrate an update in a single version. But the problem here are doing all the versions at once rather than doing each image, whether I have to recreate them from scratch or not. – Tom Wijsman Sep 13 '09 at 20:29

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