A+: Network Drive Installation

You can install Windows from a network drive by starting the computer with a network client and logging on to the server to start the process. If you want to automate the process, Windows 7, Vista, XP, and 2000 can all be installed from a network drive automatically using either Windows Deployment Services (made specifically for deploying Windows Vista), which can be installed on Windows Server 2008/2003, or the Remote Installation Services (RIS) program, which can be installed on Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Server.

These two server-based programs work along with the Windows System Image Manager program (for Vista), or the Setup Manager Wizard found on the Windows XP and 2000 CD-ROMs. These programs are used to create an answer file. The answer file provides the responses needed for the installation. In Windows Vista, there is a single answer file that is XML-based called Unattend.xml. In Windows XP/2000 the answer files are text-based—for example, Unattend.txt. For more information on how this works and the differences between Vista and XP, visit http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc765993.aspx

The Windows System Image Manager (SIM) for Vista is part of the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK), which can be downloaded from Microsoft’s website—search for “Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK).” For a free CBT tutorial on how to use WSIM, search the Microsoft TechNet for “Windows Vista Virtual Lab Express: Windows System Image Manager Overview.”