SolutionBase: Integrate Windows XP and Service Pack 2 to simplify installations

Installing Windows XP can be tedious enough, but it becomes even more of a hassle when you have to go back and also install Service Pack 2. Here's how to create an integrated installation of Windows XP and Service Pack 2 that will install both of them at the same time on new workstations.

Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) is a complex update with many ramifications for IT pros. TechRepublic's Windows XP Service Pack 2 Quick Guide drills down on critical SP2 need-to-know areas, with sections on fundamentals, changes that occur after installation, deployment procedures, problem areas, and removal.

Installing additional Windows XP workstations on your network is a time-consuming chore made longer by the need to download and install the latest service pack, currently Service Pack 2. If only there were a better way.

But wait...there is! With Windows XP, Microsoft included the ability to create integrated installations that combine current service pack files and the system files on your original Windows XP CD-ROM. When you deploy Windows XP using the integrated installation, the service pack will install seamlessly at the same time as your base Windows XP installation. Here's how to create a Windows XP/Service Pack 2 integrated installation.

Creating an integrated installation

Creating an integrated installation is very simple. First, create a folder on one of your servers to store the integrated installation. The servers can be running any operating system, but if you want to ultimately use RIS to deploy the installations to new XP workstations, it would be best to do so using Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003. You can call this folder anything you want, but you should make it something meaningful, such as Xpsetup. The easiest way to create the folder is to start a command prompt on your server, type md xpsetup, and press [Enter].

Next, put your original Windows XP CD-ROM into your server's CD-ROM drive. From the command prompt you just opened, copy all the files from the original Windows XP CD-ROM to the Xpsetup directory by typing xcopy d:\*.* c:\xpsetup /e and pressing [Enter]. This will copy the I386 directory and all the subdirectories and files under it to the server's directory.

Next, you'll need the network installation version of Windows XP Service Pack 2. It doesn't matter how you obtain the file, whether from Microsoft's Web Site or from a Windows XP Service Pack CD. If you download it from Microsoft, you'd better have a fast connection. Service Pack 2 weighs in at over 250 MB and will take quite a while to download. Microsoft also uses a long file name for the Service Pack: WindowsXP-KB835935-SP2-ENU.exe. After you download the file, you may want to rename the file to something easier to type, such as Winxpsp2.exe.

Create a temporary directory on your server and copy the Winxpsp2.exe file into it. Next, extract the Service Pack 2 files from the file by typing winxpsp2 /x at a command prompt in the temporary directory and pressing [Enter]. When you see the Choose Directory For Extracted Files dialog box, type c:\tempdir, where tempdir is the name of the temporary directory you created, and click OK.

After the files extract, type c:\tempdir\i386\update\update.exe -integrate:c:\xpsetup to cause Update to create the integrated installation. You should know that you can only execute this command from another Windows XP workstation. The files may reside on a Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 server, but the Update command will run only under Windows XP. As the files integrate, you'll see the screen shown in Figure A.

Figure A

The Update command will integrate Service Pack 2 with your original XP CD.

After it completes, you can use the files in the Xpsetup directory to install completely patched versions of Windows XP on new servers. To put the integrated installation to use, you can either burn a new CD-ROM from the Xpsetup directory or create a network share for the Xpsetup directory and then connect to it over your network. You'll run Setup for the integrated installation just as you would from your original CD-ROM. You can also use Remote Installation Services (RIS) to create a network-distributable version of an integrated installation.

Creating an integrated installation using RIS

If you've used RIS to create new Windows XP installations, you know how handy it can be. You can also use RIS to create and distribute Windows XP/Service Pack 2 integrated installations.

This article shows only how to create integrated RIS images. It doesn't go into the details of RIS itself. For more information about RIS, see the article "Using Windows Server 2003's Remote Installation Services."

To begin, you'll need an RIS image, either a CD-based image or RIPrep image. Next, on the RIS server, click Start | Programs | Administrative Tools | Active Directory Users And Computers. In the left pane on the Active Directory Users And Computers screen, click the container object that contains the RIS server. In the right pane, right-click the RIS server's name and then click Properties.

When the Properties dialog box appears, click the Remote Install tab and then click Advanced Settings. When the Advanced page appears, click the Images tab and then click Add to add an OS image. When prompted for the image source, point to the share containing this update.

Assimilation complete

In the olden days of Windows NT, creating new servers was a time-consuming chore. You had to first install Windows NT and then go back and apply the latest service pack to your new server. You can now integrate the latest service pack with your original unpatched versions and then create new servers that are fully patched from the start with a Windows XP/Service Pack 2 integrated installation.