How to perform an unattended installation of Windows from a CD-ROM

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This article was previously published under Q314459
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For a Microsoft Windows 2000 version of this article, see 216258.
This article describes how to perform an unattended installation of Windows by starting your Intel-based computer from a CD-ROM.
With Windows XP, you can perform an unattended installation from the CD-ROM.

Verify That You Can Perform Unattended Installation from CD-ROM

To perform an unattended installation from a CD-ROM, the following conditions must be met:
  • The computer must support booting from a CD-ROM, and must adhere to the El-Torito non-emulation specification. For additional information about this specification, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    167685 How to Create an El Torito Bootable CD-ROM
  • The unattended answer file must be renamed to Winnt.sif and copied to a floppy disk so Setup can access it.
  • The answer file must contain a valid [Data] section. This is explained later in this article.
Note: The following limitations exist with this installation method:
  • The installation is limited to a single partition.
  • You cannot specify third-party drivers during Setup.

Prepare Your Computer for an Unattended Installation

To prepare your computer for an unattended installation from a CD-ROM, follow these steps:
  1. Create an unattended answer file by using the Setup Manager utility included with the Microsoft Windows XP CD. To install Setup Manager, follow these steps:
    1. Open My Computer, and then open the Support\Tools folder on the Windows XP CD-ROM.
    2. Double-click the DEPLOY.CAB file to open it.
    3. On the Edit menu, click Select All.
    4. On the Edit menu, click Copy To Folder.
    5. Click Make New Folder. Type the name that you want for the Setup Manager folder, and then press ENTER. For example, type setup manager, and then press ENTER.
    6. Click Copy.
    7. Open the new folder that you created, and then double-click the setupmgr.exe file. The Windows Setup Manager Wizard starts. Follow the instructions in the wizard to create an answer file. For additional information about how to create an answer file, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
      308662 Use Setup Manager to Create an Answer File
  2. If you want Windows Setup to delete all partitions on the hard disk and to create a new partition, you must include the Repartition command in the Winnt.sif file. Under [Unattended] , insert a new line, and then type the following:
    If you omit this line, you are prompted for the installation partition.
  3. Add a [Data] section with the following entries to the unattended answer file:

    • UnattendedInstall=Yes - Value must be set to "yes"
    • MSDosInitiated=No - Value must be set to "no" or Setup stops during the graphical portion of Setup
    • AutoPartition=1 - If the value is set to 1, the installation partition is automatically selected. If the value is set to 0 (zero), you are prompted for the installation partition during the text portion of Setup.
  4. Save the unattended answer file as Winnt.sif on a floppy disk.
  5. Insert the Windows CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive, and then insert the floppy disk into the floppy disk drive.
  6. Change the boot order in the CMOS so that the CD-ROM is first in the list. For information about how to do this, refer to the documentation included with your computer, or contact the manufacturer.

    For information about how to contact your computer manufacturer, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
  7. Restart your computer. When Setup is started from the CD-ROM, the Winnt.sif file located on the floppy disk will be used to complete the unattended installation.
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Article ID: 314459 - Last Review: 12/07/2015 08:21:41 - Revision: 4.0

Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, Microsoft Windows XP Professional

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