Use Reverse Integration to slipstream Windows Vista SP1 and SP2

Having a Windows Vista install DVD with the latest service packs can be very helpful - especially if you reinstall Windows more than a couple of times a year or if you have to deploy Windows Vista to multiple computers. Alan Norton shows how he creates one.

Slipstreaming is the process of integrating Microsoft Windows service packs, hot-fixes, language packs, drivers, or other OS components into one customized Windows install disk. Technically, the Reverse Integration method used in this article is not slipstreaming. The Reverse Integration method captures the Windows image during the installation process and then that Windows image file is applied to the original Vista install files.

The end result is the same. You end up with one DVD that you can use to reinstall Vista with both SP1 and SP2 service packs already integrated.

Having a Windows Vista install DVD with the latest service packs can be very helpful — especially if you reinstall Windows more than a couple of times a year or if you have to deploy Windows Vista to multiple computers. Having the latest service packs already installed on your system can also go a long way to protect your computer when you first connect to the Internet.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download and the steps can be seen in a TechRepublic Photo Gallery.


I am not going to try to kid you. Integrating SP1 and SP2 into a Vista install DVD is a complex process, but it is still quite doable. The goal of this document is to provide an easy-to-follow method for integrating both SP1 and SP2 into one Windows Vista install disk for a person with at least moderate computer skills.

Unlike previous versions of Windows where a follow-on release of a service pack is cumulative, Vista Service Pack 2 requires Service Pack 1 to be installed first. That means that you will have to integrate both service packs.

While you may be able to reverse integrate Windows Vista from a BartPE or VistaPE disk, this document focuses on integrating the service packs from a second operating system already installed on your PC. Windows Vista Ultimate x64 was used as the second OS, but the procedures should be similar for other Windows operating systems.

You will be creating a single version of Vista on the integrated disk — Business, Ultimate, etc. For example, if you are reverse integrating a Business version of Vista and later want to upgrade to Ultimate using Microsoft's Anytime Upgrade option, you will not be able to use the single-edition disk created in this process. Additional editions can be added to the reverse integrated disk, but the procedure for doing this is beyond the scope of this document.


MSDN and TechNet Plus members can download a pre-integrated ISO image of Windows Vista SP1 and SP2. Just download this file and burn your "slipstreamed" Vista SP2 install disk. Alternatively, you may be able to get a Vista SP1 and SP2 image via a corporate server. There are versions available on the Internet, but you are taking a gamble by downloading them — not to mention the fact that these are distributed in violation of copyright laws.

There is another alternate option if you have an imaging program from the Acronis True Image Echo Family or one of the Symantec Ghost Solution Suite 2.5 solutions. You can reinstall Windows Vista, install the two service packs, and create an image that you use later to restore Windows. If you aren't running RAID, you can use several freeware apps to create the image. MaxBlast 5, for Maxtor hard drive owners, and DiscWizard, for Seagate hard drive owners, are limited versions of Acronis True Image Home. You can use one of these tools to image an entire partition, including your OS partition.

Note: I have gone to great care to verify the accuracy of this information, but this procedure has been tested only on my system. Your results may vary. If you find any errors, please report them in the forum. If you try all or parts of this procedure using a BartPE or VistaPE disk, please report your results in the forum.


  • Vista-capable PC
  • One free partition with enough space to reinstall Vista
  • One DVD and DVD RW optical drive. You might want to use RW DVDs if you have them until you have created a good image.
  • 3+ hours to integrate SP1 and SP2 into Windows Vista x86 and 4+ hours to integrate SP1 and SP2 into Windows Vista x64

Table A - Software Requirements

Program Name



Vista RTM install files 2.52GB 3.56GB
x86 or x64 SP1 setup file 434MB 726MB
x86 or x64 SP2 setup file 348MB 577MB
WAIK SP1 Download 1.34GB
Disk/ISO burning utility -

Table B - Approximate Temporary Disk Space Requirements (assumes that the CompCln step was performed)




Maximum 5.33 GB 7.04 GB
Fast 5.68 GB 7.58 GB

A second Windows operating system is required. The OS can be:

  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 with KB926044
  • Server 2003
  • Vista
  • Server 2008
  • Windows 7


I make the following assumptions. If you do not know how to do a task, click on the task to get more information and instructions.

You know how to:

Step 1: Install WAIK and a disk-burning utility

Boot into the Working OS.

If you haven't already done so, download x86 or x64 SP1 and x86 or x64 SP2 installer, and WAIK SP1 ISO file.

If you don't already have a program that can burn an ISO file to disk, download and install one now.

Burn the Windows AIK ISO file to a DVD. Install the WAIK by opening startcd.exe from the DVD and selecting Windows AIK Setup from the Welcome to Windows Automated Installation Kit window. Follow the instructions in the Windows Automated Installation Kit Setup Wizard.

Step 2: Reinstall Vista RTM and exit ([Ctrl] [Shift] [F3]) at OOBE

Note: Before doing a reinstall, it is a good idea to read the "10 Things You Should Do Before, During, and After Reinstalling Windows" article so that you won't lose any of your important data. If Vista was originally installed on a non-boot partition, fully format the partition and reinstall it there. If Vista was originally installed on the boot partition, it must be reinstalled on a non-boot partition.

When you get to the screen where you enter the user name and password, press [Ctrl][Shift][F3]. This screen is referred to as the Out of Box Experience, or OOBE, screen, no doubt by someone with a strange sense of humor. The system will shut down and should reboot into the new Vista install.

Step 3: Install SP1

Once Windows Vista starts, you should see the Windows desktop with the Welcome and the System Preparation Tool 3.14 windows open on the desktop. Open Explorer and run the appropriate x86 or x64 SP1 self-executable installer.

When it has completed, you should be at the Windows Vista desktop and you should see a window stating that Service Pack 1 was successfully installed. You should also still see the System Preparation Tool 3.14 window open on the desktop. Do not close the System Preparation Tool 3.14 window.

Step 4: Install SP2

Now it is time to add SP2. Find the appropriate x86 or x64 version of the SP2 installer that you downloaded earlier and run it. Allow it to complete. When it is finished you should see a window stating that the service pack installed successfully.

Step 5: Perform CompCln

You have the option to use the new CompCln (Component Clean) tool to remove the RTM and SP1 rollback files.

Service Pack 2 installs a replacement for vsp1cln.exe, the cleaning tool used after installing Vista SP1. Called compcln.exe, it is installed in the C:\Windows\System32 folder. It will remove previous versions of the RTM and SP1 files reducing disk usage and making both SP1 and SP2 permanent.

To do this, click Start and type compcln. Right-click the compcln item under Programs and click Run as Administrator to grant administrative rights. Enter [y] to start.

Warning! If you want to create an ISO file that will fit on a S/L DVD and you are imaging a 64 bit installation, you should perform the CompCln step. The CompCln step is optional for x86 but recommended.

Step 6: Perform SysPrep

There are two options for performing the SysPrep. Choose and follow the instructions for one method.

Recommended Method

Use this method if you want to accomplish any of the following:

  • Put the Vista OS back onto the boot drive
  • Test the DVD you will create for burn errors
  • Verify that the new installation will complete successfully
  • Verify that you have correctly integrated SP1 and SP2 into the setup files
Select the System Preparation Tool 3.14 window. If Enter System Out-of-Box Experience is not selected in the System Cleanup Action drop-down box, select it. Check the Generalize check box to select it and choose Shutdown from the Shutdown Options drop-down box, as shown in Figure A. Click OK. If all goes well, the SysPrep will finish in about one minute and the system will shut down normally.

Figure A

Change the options in the System Preparation Tool 3.14 window to match these options if you are using the recommended method.

Alternate method

Use this method only if you want to keep the Vista installation on a non-boot partition and only if you don't want to test the integrated Vista SP2 disk you will create.

You will need to perform a registry export and import. Please read "Export and Import the MountedDevices Registry Key" for detailed instructions and more information about why you need to do this.

Step 7: Boot into working OS and create temporary folders

Tip: Don't like working with long and complicated DOS commands? I have created a freeware application called Vista Image Capture that automates steps 7-10 and creates a bootable ISO image. Important! The Vista Windows image must be captured next. Do NOT boot back into the new Windows Vista installation. And do not leave the computer unattended for someone to start.

Because Windows Vista should be the default item in the Windows Boot Manager you need to stay at your computer when restarting. Be sure that you select the Working OS before the countdown runs out and the default system, Windows Vista, is started.

Once the Working OS starts, create the folders listed below. Refer to Table B for the minimum disk space requirements. These folders will be used for copying the Vista setup files and for setting up the temporary files created by the ImageX and OSCDImg utilities.

\Temp VIC\
\Temp VIC\Vista x86 SP2 - if integrating 32 bit Vista
\Temp VIC\Vista x64 SP2  - if integrating 64 bit Vista
\Temp VIC\ISO\

Step 8: Copy Vista setup files

Copy all the folders and files on the original Windows Vista RTM disk to the \Vista x86 SP2 or \Vista x64 SP2 folder.

Step 9: Run ImageX

Open a Windows PE Tools Command Prompt window by clicking Start and typing comm. Right-click on Windows PE Tools Command Prompt and click Run as Administrator, as shown in Figure B, to grant administrative rights. Click Continue if prompted by the UAC.

Figure B

Open a Windows PE Tools Command Prompt window as an administrator to grant administrative rights.

If you are as rusty in DOS as I am, then I recommend that you use the copy-and-paste method outlined below. Trust me on this one, this method is quicker and easier than trying to type the full command at the command prompt.

Highlight the following text, including quote marks, and copy it to the clipboard:

For x86:

imagex /compress maximum /flags Ultimate /capture H:\ "N:\Temp VIC\Vista x86 SP2\sources\install.wim" "Ultimate x86 SP2"

For x64:

imagex /compress maximum /flags Ultimate /capture H:\ "N:\Temp VIC\Vista x64 SP2\sources\install.wim" "Ultimate x64 SP2"

Paste the text into Notepad. The text should be changed to match the version of Vista for which you have a license, the drive letters and paths specific to your system, and the name describing the version of Vista being imaged.

The command-line items are defined as:

  • imagex - The program you invoke to create the new install.wim file.
  • /compress maximum - Switch to compress the final install.wim file.
  • /flags - Switch that specifies the edition of Vista you are capturing and imaging.
  • "Ultimate" - The name of the version for which you own a license and you installed. The choices are as follows (Please note that the names do not include spaces):
    • Starter
    • HomeBasic
    • HomeBasicN
    • HomePremium
    • Business
    • BusinessN
    • Ultimate
    • Enterprise
  • /capture - Switch that specifies the source drive and target path to image.
  • H:\ - The capture source drive. In the above example the capture source drive is drive H: and is the location where Windows Vista was reinstalled.
  • N:\Temp VIC\Vista x64 SP2\ - The target drive and folder for the install.wim file — the same folder where the Vista install files were copied.
  • install.wim - The name of the WIM file that ImageX will be creating.
  • "Ultimate x64 SP2" - Text that describes the version of Windows Vista that you are integrating.
Note: The Compression option fast can be used in place of Maximum. Using this option will greatly speed up the time required to create the image, but the WIM file size will be slightly larger. There is another option, None, but it should not be used. The None option will create a WIM file that when added to the original Vista install files will require two S/L DVDs or one D/L DVD.

Don't overlook the drive letter H: in the middle of the command. You will have to change it to match the letter of the capture source logical drive.

After you have modified the command, select it and copy it to the clipboard. Select the Windows PE Tools Command Prompt window and paste the text into the command line by right-clicking the mouse and selecting Paste. Enter the command by pressing [Return].

Allow ImageX to finish. ImageX will overwrite the existing install.wim file with the new one you just created. Browse the \Vista x86 SP2\sources or \Vista x64 SP2\sources folder and verify that the install.wim creation date and time is new.

Leave the DOS window open. You will be using it next to create a bootable ISO file.

Step 10: Create bootable ISO

You now have all the files necessary to create an ISO image of the Vista SP2 install files. The trick is that you need to create a bootable ISO file. This can be done easily in Vista or Windows 7 with vLite. That won't work if you're Working OS is XP. The tool that everyone can use is part of the WAIK distribution, and it is called oscdimg.exe.

Highlight the following text and copy it to the clipboard:

For x86:

oscdimg /b"J:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools\x86\boot\" /n /o /m /l"Ultimate x86 SP2" "N:\Temp VIC\Vista x86 SP2" "N:\Temp VIC\ISO\Vista x86 Ultimate SP2.iso"

For x64

oscdimg /b"J:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools\x86\boot\" /n /o /m /l"Ultimate x64 SP2" "N:\Temp VIC\Vista x64 SP2" "N:\Temp VIC\ISO\Vista x64 Ultimate SP2.iso"

Paste the text into Notepad. The text should be changed to match the drive letter of your WAIK drive (/b switch), the label you will be using (/l switch), the source path and file name, and the path and name of ISO file that will be created.

The command-line items are defined as:

  • oscdimg - The program you invoke to create the new bootable ISO file.
  • /b - Switch that specifies the name of the boot file to include.
  • J:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools\x86\boot\ - The path and file name of the WAIK file needed to make the ISO bootable.
  • /n - Switch that allows long file names in the final ISO file.
  • /o - Switch that optimizes the final ISO file making it smaller.
  • /m - Switch that overrides the default maximum file size.
  • /l - (Optional) Switch used to include a label for the disk image, Ultimate x64 SP2 in this example.
  • N:\Temp VIC\Vista x64 SP2- The path (drive and folder) where the Vista install files are located. These include the original Vista files with the install.wim file you created earlier.
  • N:\Temp VIC\ISO\Vista x64 Ultimate SP2.iso - The path and file name of the output ISO file you are creating.

Don't overlook the drive letter J: at the beginning of the command. You will have to change it to match the drive on your system where the WAIK was installed.

After changing the command, copy and paste it into the Windows PE Tools Command Prompt window and press [Return] to submit the command. You can ignore the warning you get after completion.

Step 11: Burn ISO to disk

Burn the ISO file created to a DVD. Most disk-burning software has the option to burn an ISO file.

Step 12: Reinstall Vista SP2

Format the target partition and reinstall Vista using the newly created integrated disk.

Caution! There is a small risk when formatting the boot partition containing the Boot Configuration Data (BCD). When reinstalling Windows Vista, versions of Windows already installed on your system may be recognized as an unknown Windows OS or not at all. Previous versions of Windows already installed on your system should be recognized.

If you chose to format and reinstall Windows Vista on the boot partition containing the BCD, insert the RTM disk for the newest version of Windows you own into your optical drive, reboot the computer, and select Repair Your Computer when the option appears. This will add the Working OS and any other recognized Windows installations on the computer to the BCD.

There are other tools that can be used to edit the BCD, including msconfig, bcdedit, both Microsoft utilities, the freeware-utility EasyBCD, and, for a small price, VistaBootPRO.

Step 13: Verify SP1 and SP2 have been installed

Boot into the new Vista installation and open the Installed Updates window by opening the Programs and Features window from the Control Panel and selecting View Installed Updates. You should see the results show in Figure C.

Figure C

Verify that SP1 and SP2 have been properly integrated by comparing the KB files in the Installed Updates window to those shown here.
  • KB948465 - SP2
  • KB955430 - SP2 Hotfix servicing stack update
  • KB938371 - Fix for SP1 auto-update
  • KB935509 - Fix for BitLocker Drive Encryption - Ultimate and Enterprise editions only
  • KB937954 - Update for Microsoft Windows
  • KB937287 - Update for Vista installer

Step 14: Post testing and cleanup

Use Vista for a while to check for any problems. When you are satisfied that all is well, delete the /Temp VIC folder.

The final word

Pat yourself on the back. It is no simple matter integrating SP1 and SP2 into Vista. Now that you have successfully created an integrated Vista SP2 set-up DVD you will find your next Vista reinstall much simpler and you will be better protected before having to connect to the Internet.

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Author's Notes:

Credit to:

Members of the WinBeta forum for the Reverse Integration process.

Thanks to: Tech Republic member anachron@... who asked for this article and Tech Republic member Richard Potts for his interest in a slipstreaming article and for the XP slipstreaming document he sent me.


Alan Norton began using PCs in 1981, when they were called microcomputers. He has worked at companies like Hughes Aircraft and CSC, where he developed client/server-based applications. Alan is currently semi-retired and starting a new career as a wri...

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