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These kinds of installation were possible before in Windows XP. Are they still possible with Windows 7? So far, all the websites I've seen say it requires at least that the OS be bootable (or maybe I misunderstood).

If it is possible, please enumerate the steps - my aim is to have a handy guide I can show to my colleagues if they ever need it. (So far we only have a few Windows 7 machines here in our office, and most of them are used by developers. Everyone else is still on XP.)

If there are related links here in SU, feel free to point them out. Thanks so much!

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In our office we normally set up a machine the way we want it (programs installed, development environment setup, etc) and then use the Windows 7 system image tool to create an image for that PC.

See: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Back-up-your-programs-system-settings-and-files for a step by step guide (with a video) from Microsoft on how to create the image.

You can then use a boot-able disk or a repair disk to restore the image (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/Windows7/Create-a-system-repair-disc).

System recovery options for Windows 7 can be found here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/What-are-the-system-recovery-options-in-Windows-7

I've used the Startup Repair once after a shared .dll went missing and it worked very well. I can't speak first hand for the memory diagnostic tool in the System Recovery Options (I'm a fan of memtest86).

The few sites I've been able to find that talk about the Windows 7 repair installation all say that you have to be able to boot into the OS to run a repair (a few of the sites recommend trying the Start-up Repair tool if you are unable to get Windows to boot and then going through with your repair installation).

Hope this helps!

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+1 - The answers you gave are helpful indeed, but I was also looking for possible solutions for situations where the OS is no longer bootable. I'll hold out for a few more days and see if anyone else can provide that info too. Thanks so much! –  Isxek Oct 27 '10 at 12:01

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