How to Autoinstall Required Software after a Windows Reinstall

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Anyone who has been using Windows for any length of time knows reinstalling it is unavoidable. Some people call technical help and some do it themselves. If you reinstall on your own, you know it takes a little time but the most annoying part of reinstalling Windows is that you have to reinstall all your software one by one all over again. Software like Firefox, Winamp, VLC and other indispensable programs that don’t ship with Windows.

Windows Post-Install Wizard allows you to take care of such situations and automatically install all the software that you would like to install on a fresh install with a minimum of input. There are a few steps involved in getting it to work as we shall see:

  • Download and extract the package to a location of your choice.
  • Let’s start by adding the applications you need to be installed, post-Windows installation. You must download the applications and save the setup inside the “WPI\Install” folder which can be found under the location where you extracted the contents of the download from step 1.
  • Now run the WPI.hta file. This will launch a HTML application. Click on the config button to enter the configuration section. This is where we will build the script to install all the software that we require, automatically.
  • Click on the ‘add’ button and fill in the appropriate details in the ‘Description’ tag at the bottom. Enter the name, description and install order. UUID gets filled automatically, choose “Default” if you want the current application to be included in the default set of apps available during installation. Choose a category under which the current application should appear, should the user want to choose the applications to install.
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  • Now hop over to the command tab. Click on the “Add” button towards the right. A command section appears at the bottom. Click on the folder icon to browse for the setup file. This will fill in the command section automatically with the required path. Now you need to add any switches that you want to run the installation program with. A common switch used in slipstreamed or unintended installs is the /s or /silent or -quiet switch. This suppresses all questions and proceeds with the default install of the application. You might have to search for the switches available for the particular application that you are working with!
  • Add in any dependencies, in the ‘Dependencies’ tab. A common example is software that requires the .NET framework. In such cases you would not want to install software that depends on the .NET framework to be installed without the user checking the .NET framework entry first. Such conditions can be specified from within this tab.
  • Select ‘Save’, add other applications or choose ‘exit’.

Now that you have configured your script, next comes the task to include it on your Windows installation disc or as a standalone disc that you can run during the installation of the post installation after booting on to the desktop. WPI has plenty of options to help you achieve this, best of which (because its ready made) is the $oem$ folder that you can download from the WPI site and place it on your installation disc. This is the structure we are looking to achieve on your final installation disc:

With this done, use something like nlite, vlite or the MakeISO tool that you can download from the WPI download section to make the disc bootable. Pop it in and sit back and watch your system being configured according to your needs. WPI also offers advanced options you can use to customize the look of the installer and even playback some music while it’s doing its thing!

Since you can run almost any command using WPI, it is also an excellent way to apply some tweaks that you had before formatting and you would like to include in the next install. It is always a good option to check your newly created disc on a virtual machine before you try to go all ballistic and format your computer. You might be able to find a quirk or two and fix them.

You might be also interested in a couple of alternative ways to do the same thing as recommended by other MakeUseOf authors.

How To Reinstall Windows Without Losing Your Data
How To Create An Unattended Windows XP Disk

Do you know of any other tools to accomplish similar tasks? Have you built your own custom install CD? What did you include? Share in the comments!

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29 Comments - Write a Comment



….or you could just reinstall things one by one


right but what this app does is all you to quickly reinstall everything you have. If you just have a office suite and updates then this may not be for you but if you have 10 to 20 different things that need installed (including drivers) then this is the app for you. I use it for my machine and for work when i install from a image i created.



Can we use this customization on other pc?

Varun Kashyap

Yes, you can. Infact, the concept and effort really pays off in such situations!


hi i am jagan
Please help me how to install software’s automatically after formatting the system



How does this render applications that require license keys?


I create silent installs with the keys already inputed. Cant do it with all of them but most of them

Varun Kashyap

You would have to either enter them on prompt or you could enter them with the command itself, in any case you would have to search around for the options available for your specific application.



Do u know Windows Unattended Edition?Ă‚Âż

Im sure they use this software or sth similar



when it comes to eulas and other agreements where a USER is required to agree, does the program stop?


you should create silent installs of the applications. Command line switches that allow you to auto agree to EULA. I dont know what it would do otherwise as i never used it for anything but silent installs. I guess it would treat it as a normal install.



This looks a bit like Almeza Multiset.


Adar Wesley

Can you somehow capture currently installed programs into the install set?
I mean, does it have an option to scan the current machine and find installed packages (software or drivers) and ask me
which of them I want to reinstall on a new machine?

I don’t mind if it asks me to supply further information per software package, like where to take the installation source (MSI) from.



Why haven’t I thought of using something like this before? Very cool.


Colin Surridge

I think this would be a bad thing to do if you think there is ANY chance you have a virus. I know that’s the only reason i’ve ever reinstalled windows.

Safer all round to download (unless you have the install CD’s) any apps after you have reinstalled your OS and protected it.



The only prolem with this is the same problem as with images. You have to constantly update your script with the latest versions of everything. If you only re-install every year then this is more maintenance then its worth. FWIW, I have been running Vista since it was released to MSDN in late 2006 and haven’t had any need to re-install. While Vista has its problems, this is one area I see tremendous improvement in. I could’ve never run Windows XP for 2+ years without reinstalling to clean it up.



I’d rather update already existing programs than reinstall them one by one and then update them, or go find the updated program on the net and redownload them all. Most programs will update in the background on their own anyway. You may need to updated a few programs manually but in contrast to not doing this, this really isn’t a problem.



Why don’t people just use ghost? You have windows, your drivers, and all of your applications already installed then. Someone mentioned you still need to install the updates, but that’s true if you just installed the OS from scratch.



How about making a backup of all your system with a backup software or linux dd ? All your windows/others OSes will be restaured and all your software just like there were.

Took me 2 hours to restaure a 30 gb zipped image of my 230gb hard drive (obviously my disk was not full of data). Pretty good time if you think that i had one single line of code to enter on a linux command shell after booting a ubuntu live cd.



I wish stupid Microsoft would make something like aptitude or yum…



Another program: InstallPad







i heard there is a software named dragon that allows you to do the same stuff. I do have a customized win xp service pack 3 cd. its ultra convenient man! ALL the much needed applications from office to nero get installed in one go and that too without prompts.


install software

Almeza MultiSet do this.


Mike M.

I have been slowly familiarizing myself with Linux of many flavors. However as most newbies, I have been drawn into Ubuntu. For its ease of use, with a great following.

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