CUSTOM WINDOWS INSTALL
Installing Windows from scratch, particularly if you’re doing it repeatedly, is an absolute pain. Although we’ve talked about ways of installing batches of software at one time in the main feature, that’s not your only option. If you’re deploying a batch of machines, you could do it using a system image— essentially a fully installed version of Windows, with all the software you’re going to need, that you copy wholesale on to a new hard drive. Microsoft provides a tool called the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit to help with this task, which includes ImageX, an application that can deal with the creation and deployment of system images. Find out more and download the Windows ADK at https:// developer.microsoft.com/ en-us/windows/hardware/ windows-assessmentdeployment-kit, and make sure you run Sysprep (included with Windows) before making your image, to strip out everything machine-specific, including Windows license keys.
This is all rather complex and, frankly, quite redundant for most users. You’ll probably be more interested in having a customized Windows build on hand for those odd occasions when you need to reinstall your operating system. NTLite ( www.ntlite.com) is the perfect choice for this; it’s a tool that helps you, yes you, create a custom Windows build, integrating software updates, adding the software of your choice, and even setting it to install completely unattended. You can use it to remove Windows components, too, meaning you end up with a streamlined install, and you can automate post-installation tasks in order to avoid that tedious early-days rigmarole. The free version is absolutely adequate unless you’re looking to use it for those IT manager tasks we’re trying to avoid, although don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s a way of avoiding complexity completely. Building an NTLite Windows package is a task that requires a good few hours and a lot of coffee.
Want to make your own custom Windows build? It won’t be easy...