Babysitting a Windows XP installation is no fun. And the installation is just the beginning of it. After it’s finished, you have to install drivers, tweak settings, and then proceed to install what feels like a million Windows updates which are usually accompanied by a couple of reboots. If you are like me and would prefer to have this process automated then you’ve come to the right place. I would like to show you how you can automate this whole process using a great little program called nLite.
Before we get started you will need a Windows XP installation CD as well as the product key. You will also need a blank CD where you will write your new installation files to.
Step 1: Download and install nLite. When you are finished run the program.
Step 2: Select your language and click “Next”.
Step 3: You will now be asked to locate your Windows installation files. Click browse and choose your Windows XP installation CD. You will also be asked where you would like to save your Windows XP installation files. Create a new folder, name it whatever you like, and click “Ok”. nLite will now begin to copy the installation files from the CD to the folder you created. When it is finished, click “Next”.
Step 4: You will now be prompted with a Presets window. This is where you can choose your previous settings if you have already created an unattended installation CD before. Click “Next”.
Step 5: Now you will see the Task Selection window. This is where you will choose the operations you would like to perform. Click “All” and then “Next.
Step 6: You will now be prompted for the location of the Windows Service Pack you would like to integrate into the installation. If your Windows XP Installation CD doesn’t include Service Pack 2 then download it here and select it. When you are finished, click “Next”.
Step 7: Here you can set your unattended installation CD to install the Windows updates during the installation process. In order to do this, you need to download all of the updates from Microsoft and save them to a folder. There is a great little program called Windows Updates Downloader that will help you with this. Once you download them, click “Insert” and select them all. Then click “Next”.
Step 8: Now you can select what specific drivers you want to preinstall with Windows besides the ones that are installed by default. If you don’t have any just click “Next”.
Step 9: Here you will be able to choose which Windows components not to install. When you are finished, click “Next”.
Step 10: Now you will be able to set up the unattended part of the installation. If you have a product key, enter it here so you aren’t prompted for it during the installation. You can also tweak all of the other predefined settings. When you are finished, click “Next”.
Step 11: Here you will be able to change settings such as the language, install path or set up OEM branding. When you are finished, click “Next”.
Step 12: Here you can tweak various other Windows settings that you would normally set up after the installation finishes. Click “Next” when you are finished.
Step 13: You will now receive a prompt that says “Do You Want To Start The Process”. Click “Yes” and nLite will apply the patches and changes you made to your Windows installation folder. When the process has completed it will tell you how large your installation folder is. Click “Next”.
Step 14: Now you can create an ISO file for your new Windows XP unattended installation CD. You can also burn the the files directly to a CD without creating an ISO.
And there you have it, your very own Windows XP unattended installation CD. If you have any experience with nLite or any other programs used for creating unattended installation CDs, feel free to post.