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I work for a small company.

We get computers in batches and every batch differs hardware-wise. When we get new PC's in I spend about half an hour on each one, wiping the hard drive, putting a fresh copy of Windows 7 on there (using the license key on the side of the machine which doesn't always work so I sometimes have to call Microsoft) and installing all of the software the staff need to do their job then finally hooking the computer up to the domain (SBS 2003).

Every computer has an identical setup, I need a more professional way to go about this while keeping costs down (startup company).

I know I'm doing it wrong but I don't know how to do it correctly! I need some guidance here

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There is a lot of information available. You can start with the Windows Automated Installation Kit – William Jackson Nov 12 '11 at 15:07
See this SU question: what is sysprep? how is it useful? – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Nov 12 '11 at 18:09
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Since you have an SBS2003 domain available to you, then why not check out the in-built Software Distribution system, at least for the application deployment part.

  • Assigning Software

You can assign a program distribution to users or computers. If you assign the program to a user, it is installed when the user logs on to the computer. When the user first runs the program, the installation is finalized. If you assign the program to a computer, it is installed when the computer starts, and it is available to all users who log on to the computer. When a user first runs the program, the installation is finalized.

  • Publishing Software

You can publish a program distribution to users. When the user logs on to the computer, the published program is displayed in the Add or Remove Programs dialog box, and it can be installed from there.

Using this you can assign software by user and/or computer via Group Policy (using OUs and the like).

You can then manage/update the packages to perform upgrades, uninstalls, etc. without visiting all the machines.

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Don't you need to join the domain first? – Canadian Luke Nov 14 '11 at 15:53
@Luke Yes, they need to be joined to the domain for the domain software distribution to work. The user accounts will need to be domain accounts as well. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Nov 14 '11 at 16:00
Alright just checking – Canadian Luke Nov 14 '11 at 16:03
@Luke No problems. :) – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Nov 14 '11 at 16:34

You can also look at using SysPrep. That's what I use, then I can mirror the Hard Disk to other machiines, and it's like doing the first boot period again (enter name, password, time, done)

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I agree with William Jackson; use the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) and Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT). MDT builds, captures and deploys opereating system images, drivers, and applications. It automates and standardizes the deployments of both windows desktop and server operating systems and software from a common deployment console. Rather than doing all the sysprep and unattend.xml file creation by hand, MDT has wizards that will create these files for you. It'll even create the boot media for you as well.

Some handy links:

MDT Forum (

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You can use vLite to create an unattended setup DVD. Once you start the installation it will automatically apply all the settings and the license key you provided when making the CD with vLite.

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RT7Lite is a better – Moab Nov 12 '11 at 16:49
@Moab It was a bunch of garbage when I last tried it, but maybe it has changed since. – RobinJ Nov 12 '11 at 17:48

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