Installation Disk Hack (Computing)

Published Date
01 - Mar - 2007
| Last Updated
01 - Mar - 2007
Installation Disk Hack (Computing)

Why keep an outdated Windows XP installer... Your disc can include all the latest updates and hotfixes. We show you how.

There are thousands—maybe millions—of people out there who find that due to installing and uninstalling software and fiddling with them, Windows’ performance takes a hit over time. The best way out is a format Windows reinstall, but this usually means having to download and install all the Windows updates all over again. This can be quite a pain in the backside, and more so for those on limited bandwidth connections.

There are two things you can do: either turn off automatic updates and live with your stock XP installation, or read through the following and make your own updated Windows XP disc, so that any subsequent formats and reinstalls are considerably less painful.

The first thing you need is a Windows XP installation disc. If you don’t already have the XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) update included in the installation disk, download it from Now you’ll need to download and install the software that will help us customise the installation disc. It’s called nLite, and it’s available at With these in place, you’re good to go.

Adding SP2

To integrate Windows XP SP 2 into the XP installation, copy the contents of the XP installation disc to a new folder in C:\ called XP. Now at a command prompt, navigate to where the SP2 download is. From there, enter this: WindowsXP-KB835935-SP2-ENU /integrate:C:\XP

You’ll see a new window showing you the progress of the integration.

Adding Hotfixes

It’s now time to include all the updates which were rolled out after SP2. There is a wonderful Windows XP Post SP2 pack that allows you to integrate all the hotfixes rolled out after the SP2 update. Download the 46 MB update from msfn/updatepack.html.

Once you have this file, you need to install nLite. Once nLite is installed and started, select the directory where your Windows XP installation is stored—in our example, C:\XP. Click on Next through the screens till you reach the Integrate HotFixes window. Here, click Insert and browse to the folder where your Windows XP Post SP2 update is saved and select it. The post-SP2 updates are ready to be integrated into your Windows XP installation.

Adding Drivers

If you have hardware for which Windows XP does not have the drivers, you can integrate it into your installation disc using nLite. You can only integrate .ini and .inf (Windows driver) files, but sometimes you’ll find drivers in the EXE format. You can extract them using WinRAR or WinZip and add the corresponding driver files into Windows.

Unattended Installation

In the next window, nLite will allow you to create an installation process that requires the minimum of intervention from the user. You can choose between the various settings on the page and enter the CD key so that it is not asked for during installation, and also enter Regional Settings details, among other things. You can also change a lot of details—like removing the extra visual themes and automatically adding user accounts. The settings you enter here eventually save you a lot of time when you’re going about installing Windows on a large number of computers.

Custom Cosmetics

If you’re anything like us, you won’t be satisfied with just adding updates and drivers. We’ll only be using nLite to burn the final CD, so for now, minimise it and get ready to do some further tweaking...

Adding User Accounts: To automatically add user accounts to your custom installation, open Notepad and enter the following:
Save this as CMDLINES.TXT under C:\XP\$OEM$. In a new file, enter:
net user Jane qwe123 /add
net localgroup Administrators Jane /add
net accounts /maxpwage:unlimited
Save this as USERACCOUNTS.CMD under C:\XP\$OEM$.

This will add the user Jane with the password qwe123 with Administrator rights. The maxpwage:unlimited ensures that the password never expires. If you want to create a username with a space, enclose it in double quotes, as in “Jane Doe”.

Custom Registry Edits: Quite a few of us spend a lot of time customising XP after installation, so here are some tweaks that you can include to save you even more time!

Auto-Logon: If you are the only user of a computer, you might like to skip the Welcome Screen and get logged on automaticallt every time you start the computer. Open Notepad and enter:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE\Microsoft\ Windows NT\ CurrentVersion\Winlogon]
Save this as AUTOLOGON.REG under C:\XP\$OEM$. Next, open the CMDLINES.TXT we earlier created under C:\XP\$OEM$ and add:
REGEDIT /S autologon.reg

As you’ve noticed, to run a Registry file during installation, it has to be saved in C:\XP\$OEM$, and a command has to be placed for it in CMDLINES.TXT with the prefix REGEDIT /S <file name>.  So remember this bit—even if we don’t mention it!

Disable Windows Tour: Open Notepad and enter:
[HKEY_LOCAL_ MACHINE\Software\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Applets\Tour]
Save the file as TOUR.REG and add its corresponding entry in CMDLINES.TXT.
Disable Grouping of Similar Taskbar items: Save a Notepad file as GROUPINGTB.REG with the following:
Don’t forget to add its corresponding entry to CMDLINES.TXT.
Decrease Menu Delay: Create MENUDELAY.REG using Notepad with the following contents:
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop]
[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop]

This will decrease the delay time for showing menus from 400 to 20 milliseconds. You can reduce this to 0, but that would open all the menus your mouse hovers over in the Start Menu.

Again, don’t forget to add the corresponding entry to CMDLINES.TXT.
Enable word wrap in Notepad: Create WordWrap.REG with Notepad:
Showing Hidden Files and Folders: Create HFF.REG in Notepad and enter:
Look for more Registry tweaks at

Finalising The Installation

Once you are ready with all the Registry tweaks and updates, go back to nLITE to create your installation disc. Click Next till you reach the final screen. Click Direct Burn under Mode and click Next. This will create a Windows XP installation disc with... everything!

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