How to Create a Windows XP Unattended Installation CD

Burn Unattended XP Installation to CD- CD Icon Babysitting a Windows XP installation is no fun. Time consuming! 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 Windows XP 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 Windows XP nLite

Download and install nLite. When you are finished run the program.

Step 2: Select Language at the nLite Welcome Page

Select your language  in the welcome page as shown below, and click “Next”.

nlite windows xp - nLite install wizard


Step 3: Browse and Choose Your Windows XP installation CD

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”.

Windows XP nLite - locate Installation screen copy


Step 4: Select or adjust settings

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”.

Windows XP nLite Presets


Step 5: Short Cut – Select all Operations

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.

Windows XP nLite Task Selection


Step 6: Select Windows XP Service Pack

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”.

Windows XP nLite Service Pack


Step 7: Set nLite to install Windows Updates

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”.

Windows XP nLite


Step 8: Select Specific Drivers if Necessary

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”.

nLite Windows XP drivers


Step 9: Select Windows Components to Not Install if necessary

Here you will be able to choose which Windows components not to install. When you are finished, click “Next”.

nLite Windows XP components


Step 10: Set up Unattended XP Installation Using nLite

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”.

nlite windows xp unattended installation final settings


Step 11: Make Last Minute Settings Changes

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”.

nlite windows xp Options


Step 12: Set up Other Settings

Here you can tweak various other Windows settings that you would normally set up after the installation finishes. Click “Next” when you are finished.

nlite windows xp tweaks


Step 13: Start the nLite Process

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”.

Processing nlite windows xp


Step 14: Create ISO file for Windows XP Unattended Installation CD

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.

Create bootable ISO nLite windows xp


And there you have it, your very own Windows XP unattended installation CD. If you have any experience with Windows XP nLite or any other programs used for creating unattended installation CDs, feel free to post.

About The Author


Casey (Surname withheld for contractual reasons) successfully started his own IT consultancy well over 10 years ago. He started training and mentoring other computer technicians who want to create a part time or full time income as an IT consultant. See the 'About Us' for more.


  • Chris

    Reply Reply September 2, 2008

    Thanks for this – it should save hours of manual installing, which is something I seem to do constantly

  • shajhan

    Reply Reply November 1, 2008

    very helpfull and save hours of time’ this cant go wrong for anyone ease of use,


  • edwin

    Reply Reply November 19, 2008

    i followed your instructions but for some reason windows xp ask me for a product key during the unattended installation. the product key i used is genuine. i have searched online for a solution but no success, but i gotta tell you that everything else gets installed automatically except for the product key which i have to enter. just for the record, on step10 under unattended mode i chose “fully automated” what could be wrong? thanks in advance.

  • edwin

    Reply Reply November 20, 2008

    please never mind my previous message, i finally got the unattended installation to work and the problem was that i was using a program that is used to install virtual machines which for some reason it kept asking for the product key, so today i used an actual computer to test the unattended cd and it worked. thank you.

  • Chiran Kumar Ghimire

    Reply Reply March 24, 2009

    I`m Trying iT.

  • dongvc

    Reply Reply April 1, 2009

    I’ll try this one, hope it works for me…

  • banana.beach

    Reply Reply June 19, 2009

    Thaks a lot for this great guide.

  • Ally

    Reply Reply September 5, 2009

    awesome man

    Good Jaaab!!

  • John Dong

    Reply Reply September 17, 2009

    Hey, this is great! I finish creating a image. I was wondering if you can add in some programs with this ISO image? Is it possible? Thanks in advance!

    • Casey

      Reply Reply September 18, 2009

      Hi John,

      Unfortunately, I am not aware of a way to do this in the current version of nLite.

      • WharfRat

        Reply Reply December 17, 2009

        Yes you can add files to your ISO or CD/DVD.

        On the Bootable ISO page of nLite (last page) there is an information box with an “Explore” button. You can use this button to navigate to your files, or just copy them into your working folder before burning your ISO or disc.

        • Casey

          Reply Reply December 17, 2009

          Thanks WharfRat.

  • Thomsd

    Reply Reply November 23, 2009

    is there any way to do it with the currently installed os? i cant find the product key for the cd i have and its not the one from this computer

  • Saqib

    Reply Reply February 28, 2010

    Wow, its great ireally like it .

  • Masroorul Hassan

    Reply Reply March 15, 2010

    OOOOh dear bundle of thanks thats what I was looking for….and today I found it…my good luck…but dear I have a question, Can I add applications, drivers for TV Card, Modem etc. please a quick answer will be highly appreciated. thanks once again!!!!

  • $jonny$

    Reply Reply August 18, 2010

    i still yet to figure out exactly how to make the cd but the tips are good help and not really sure how to add the extra programs to it 🙂 but ill get i sooner or later im sure

  • Rauf

    Reply Reply September 8, 2010

    thank you very much. you made me really happy. 🙂

  • Atif

    Reply Reply June 7, 2011

    If my unattended installation succeeds it will be very very helpful and nice.

  • Atif

    Reply Reply June 7, 2011

    During unattended installation of XP, [partition of disk] portion is manual. Could it be unattended also?

  • Amin

    Reply Reply October 1, 2011

    dude, i have done all the process, the only thing in which im sucked is the DRIVERS, when i put the drivers, only sound driver was install and nothing else. the theme was installed and i just wanna know two things

    1: How to install drivers?

    2: How to install softwares??

    waiting for your reply…!!

  • Amin

    Reply Reply October 1, 2011

    i have the setups but i cant install them bcous they are not for the silent installation, i just want the solution for that, is there any..!

  • Baban Gaigole

    Reply Reply December 6, 2011

    Very nicely written.

    Also follow the below mentioned link to find out more.

  • matt

    Reply Reply February 3, 2012

    what if i need to use a different product key for each installation? can i leave it blank? can i enter key at the unique keys at the end of my installations?

  • Anup Kumar

    Reply Reply March 4, 2013

    Dear sir,

    I want to do unattended installation of windows xp-2 from CD in a new unformated computer. I have done unattended installation from CD on running computer from support folder of windows xp. But I am not able to do unattended installation from CD in new system. Is there any way to do this?

    If yes, Please give me all the steps to be followed.

    Thank You
    Anup Kumar


    Reply Reply March 13, 2013

    SP1 SP2 SP3

  • Vishal P Bulbule

    Reply Reply August 10, 2014

    Thanks a ton for such a good instruction to make unattended CD.

  • Vishal P Bulbule

    Reply Reply August 10, 2014

    Thanks a ton for such a good instruction about making unattended installation CD.

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