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Windows 7 - How to Make a Customized Windows Installation DVD

A customized Windows 7 installation DVD is enormously convenient for a number of reasons. Every so often, you'll want to reinstall Windows due to such reasons as buying a new computer, upgrading a lot of your hardware or to recovering from a major system failure. It's also a good idea to occasionally reinstall Windows and all of your programs just for the sake of optimizing your computer. Reinstalling Windows will ensure that any software-related problems which arose since the last time you installed Windows are eradicated. It gets rid of all of the junk that your computer collects over time and gets it up and running like new again. Ideally, you should do this about once every year on a heavily used computer.

Before reinstalling Windows, there are various preparations that you should make. This includes backing up all of your files and downloading the latest drivers and updates for your programs. Even more convenient is if you can install the latest version of Windows 7, along with all updates, service packs, drivers and some programs all in one hit. Deploying Windows 7 in this way will save you a great deal of time and help to prevent problems. To do this, you'll need to create a fully customized Windows 7 installation DVD.

The following guide will teach you how to integrate all of the latest updates and service packs into you customized DVD (this is called slipstreaming) as well as drivers and certain supported programs. To begin with, you'll need an original and genuine Windows 7 DVD of any edition, a high quality, blank DVD and a program called RT Se7en Lite. This program is freeware.

1 – Preparations
Download and install RT Se7en Lite. This program will allow you to easily integrate everything from Windows updates and service packs to drivers and programs into your customized DVD. You will need to download the correct version for your operating system – either 32-bit or 64-bit.
You'll also need to copy the complete contents of your Windows DVD onto your hard disk. Once you have done that, open up RT Se7en Lite and specify the directory that you copied the files to by clicking the "Browse" button. You can also specify a Windows 7 ISO file if you have one and it will extract the files for you. One selected, choose the correct edition of Windows which you have a license key for.

2 – Integrating Files
Check the box entitled "Slipstream Service Pack." Click "OK" and click "Browse" to select the latest Windows 7 service pack. You will need to download the complete service pack from Microsoft's website rather than using Windows Update. Ensure that you download the correct file for your operating system – you'll need the 32-bit version for a 32-bit operating system and a 64-bit one for the 64-bit version. With the correct file chosen, click "Start." The program will integrate the service pack into the folder containing your Windows 7 setup files. Once completed, click "Proceed."
To integrate other Windows Updates, you'll need to download them from either the Microsoft Download Center or the Microsoft Update Catalog. If you use the latter, you'll need to use Internet Explorer. The updates you download need to be in the MSU format. Place all of your downloads in a single folder. Back in RT Se7en Lite, click the "Integration" button on the left-hand side and check the box beside "Integration." Click the "Updates" tab in the next window and click the button "Multiple Updates." Navigate to the folder containing the MSU files and select the whole lot. Click "Apply" and wait for the updates to be integrated.
You can also integrate drivers, language packs and certain applications by clicking on their respective tabs and adding them in much the same way.
When integrating drivers, ensure that you download the latest version for each component in your computer that requires a driver. This includes, but is typically not limited to, things such as drivers for the graphics card, sound card, motherboard chipset, card reader, Bluetooth and any peripheral devices such as printers or scanners. Extract each downloaded driver to a folder. Back in RT Se7en Lite, go to the "Driver" tab and click "Add". Browse for the driver by pointing the program to the .INF file for that driver. Once you've added all of your drivers, click "Apply" to begin the process.
In the "Language Packs" tab, you can integrate any download MUIs (Multilingual User Interfaces) that you have downloaded. Note that this feature is only supported with the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows 7. As with updates for Windows, you'll need to download these from Microsoft's website rather than Windows Update.
Finally, you can use the "Applications" tab to integrate certain applications, although there are various limitations. Applications can only be integrated into your customized Windows 7 DVD if they have a silent installation feature. A silent installer is one that requires no interaction from the user, instead running off a script. You'll need to refer to the instructions for each individual application on how to configure the silent installation feature.

3 – Removing Unwanted Features
There are a load of programs typically included with Windows 7. Just to name a few, this includes Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, Internet Explorer and much more. To remove features that you have no use for, you can click on the "Features Removal" button in RT Se7en Lite. Enable "Components" by checking that box.
The next screen will be divided into two sections. On the left, you will see a section entitled "Permanently remove." Checking any box in this section will completely remove the feature from the installation folder.
To the right, you can choose the default features to install. This will tell your customized Windows installer which included programs and features to install and which ones not to. None of these features or programs will actually be deleted from the installation DVD. This gives you the option to install them later if you change your mind.

4 – Customization
You may also want to include various customizations which will automatically be applied during the installation. By clicking on the "Customization" button in RT Se7en Lite, you'll be able to choose a desktop wallpaper as well as a visual theme, a sound theme, desktop gadgets and screensavers. You can even choose a custom logon screen, truly making almost every aspect of Windows your own from the very beginning!

5 – Configuring an Unattended Installation
Click on the "Unattended" button in RT Se7en Lite and click the "Unattended" check box to continue. This is where you will enter your product key and choose all of your preferred setup settings. You can also check all of the boxes below to automatically accept the EULA and bypass automatic activation and the product key prompt.
The "OEM Information" section of this screen is where manufacturers would normally enter their company details and logo. You can place anything you want here. The logo is the one which appears in the System section of the Control Panel.
Click on the "Regional" tab to enter your regional and language information and to specify a default keyboard setup. These are the settings which you would normally choose when you're installing Windows. You can even configure your main user account and add a password here.
Click "Apply" to save your changes.

6 – Creating a Bootable ISO Image and DVD
While there are numerous extra tweaks you can make using the "Tweaks" feature of RT Se7en Lite, most of these are for advanced users and can safely be ignored. Feel free to take a look through the list, if you like. Once you have integrated your updates, drivers and programs and customized your installation, you'll now be ready to create an ISO image and burn it to a DVD ready for use.
Click on the "ISO Bootable" button in RT Se7en Lite and then check the box "ISO bootable" to continue. All you need to do here is type in a label for the DVD and place a blank DVD in the drive. Use the lowest burn speed for the most reliable results. If your customized installation folder is too big to fit on a single DVD, you can use the "Split image" feature in the "Split" section to burn it across multiple DVDs or DVD images. Click "Create ISO" when done. An ISO file will be created from your customized Windows 7 installation folder. You will then be ready to burn it to a DVD.
Before you actually go about reinstalling Windows, it's a good idea to test the DVD first. You can do this either on a spare computer or by using a Virtual Machine.


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