One of the most time consuming steps in installing Windows, is adding all the security updates that came out since that version of Windows was released. To compile five years worth of updates since the release of Windows 7 SP1 in one handy installation package, Microsoft recently released the Windows 7 SP1 rollup. A similar rollup is also available for Windows 8 / 8.1.
With the release of new updates comes the opportunity to create streamlined installation media, an up-to-date installation package, complete with the latest security and feature patches. While it takes a little bit of effort to create, it is entirely worthwhile, as each time you need to use that installation media, you’ll be saved the burden of downloading and installing updates.
I will show you how to update your installation media for Windows 7, Windows 8 / 8.1, and Windows 10, as well as explain why it might not really be necessary to do this for Windows 10 – yet.
Note: If you have a Windows product key, you can legally download the respective Windows ISO files free from Microsoft.
Create Streamlined Windows 7 Installation Media
I recently detailed how to download and install the Windows 7 SP1 rollup package, and we’ll need all of the same files to complete the streamlined installation media. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A Windows 7 ISO
- The April 2015 Servicing Stack Update
- The Convenience Rollup Package that matches your Windows 7 architecture
- The Windows AIK for Windows 7
You’ll also need some software to unpack an ISO, and some software to mount an ISO.
Before we start fiddling around, make a new folder in the root of your C:\ directory, and name it something easy to remember. I’ve opted for “W7Streamline,” and put the Servicing Stack Update and the Convenience Rollup Package in there. This is the folder I will reference for the rest of the tutorial.
Head to your Windows 7 ISO, and unpack it into the first folder we created. I’ve used 7-Zip as it does everything I need (and we’ll need it later on), but you can use whichever application you prefer.
Just to clarify: “W7Streamline” is the folder containing my now extracted Windows 7 ISO, named “Windows7SP1x64.”
Launch an elevated Command Prompt by right-clicking the Start menu and selecting Command Prompt (Admin). We will now use the DISM command to grab some information. Enter the following command, replacing my file path with your own:
Dism /Get-WIMInfo /WimFile:C:\W7Streamline\Windows7SP1x64\sources\install.wim
This command tells us the name of the Windows 7 edition in the ISO. Make a note of the edition: we will need it later. If your ISO contains more than one edition, just note the name of the version you’d like to create an updated ISO for.
We’ll now mount the image offline. This allows us to map the contents of the image to a specified directory so we can service or modify its contents. In this case, we will need to create a new directory. Use the following command:
We’ll now mount the installation media. This will allow the DISM command to access and work with the installation files. Use the following command:
Dism /Mount-WIM /WimFile:C:\W7Streamline\Windows7SP1x64\sources\install.wim /Name:"Windows 7 ULTIMATE" /MountDir:C:\W7Streamline\offline
Make sure you change the file path to match your own, as well as checking the edition of Windows 7 matches the one you noted down earlier.
Next up, we’ll integrate the Servicing Stack Update to the installation media, using the following command:
Dism /Image:C:\W7Streamline\offline /Add-Package /PackagePath:C:\W7Streamline\Windows6.1-KB3020369-x64.msu
The above command integrates a 64-bit package. For a 32-bit package, use the following command:
Dism /Image:C:\W7Streamline\offline /Add-Package /PackagePath:C:\W7Streamline\Windows6.1-KB3020369-x86.msu
Again, make sure you replace my file paths with your own, and make sure to use the correct command for your system architecture.
We’re getting there! The next addition is the Convenience Rollup package itself. As this is just under 500 MB of updates, it will take a little while for the process to complete. Use the following command for 64-bit:
Dism /Image:C:\W7Streamline\offline /Add-Package /PackagePath:C:\W7Streamline\windows6.1-kb3125574-v4-x64_2dafb1d203c8964239af3048b5dd4b1264cd93b9.msu
Dism /Image:C:\W7Streamline\offline /Add-Package /PackagePath:C:\W7Streamline\windows6.1-kb3125574-v4-x86_ba1ff5537312561795cc04db0b02fbb0a74b2cbd.msu
Finally, we need to commit the changes we have made. Use this command:
Dism /Unmount-WIM /MountDir:C:\W7Streamline\offline /Commit
You’ve successfully integrated the Convenience Rollup package. Now we need to update the actual ISO. We’ll do this using the oscdimg tool, included as part of the Windows AIK you downloaded earlier. This tool allows us to make a new ISO image with the modified install.wim file we just created.
First, install the Windows AIK. You’ll need to mount the disc image we downloaded using your favorite mounting software. I’ve used WinCDEmu, but Windows 10 has its own integrated mounting feature. Once mounted, open the new directory and browse to StartCD, then select Windows AIK Setup from the options. Once installed, you should spot the following items in your Start menu:
And yes, before anyone mentions it: I am using the Classic Shell replacement in Windows 10. Windows 7 forever!
Back to work! Right-click Deployment Tools Command Prompt and select Run as administrator. You can then run the following command, swapping out my file paths for your own:
oscdimg -m -u2 -bC:\W7Streamline\Windows7SP1x64\boot\etfsboot.com C:\W7Streamline\Windows7SP1x64\ C:\UpdatedWindows7Media.iso
- -m ignores the maximum size of an image
- -u2 produces an image that has only the UDF file system on it
- -bfilelocation specifies the location of the El Torito boot sector file
Success! You’ve created an updated Windows 7 installation media. Keep it safe, and you can use it to save mountains of time the next clean install you have to take care of.
Create Streamlined Windows 8/8.1 Installation Media
Creating Windows 8/8.1 installation media follows a similar procedure to Windows 7, but instead of exclusively using the Command Prompt, we’ll use well known Windows installation customization tool WinReducer. For this part of the tutorial you’ll need:
- A Windows 8 or 8.1 ISO
- The corresponding version of WinReducer
You’ll also need the following tools, but before you rush out and download everything, please read the next section:
Setting Up WinReducer
A couple of years ago, you would have had to download and manually install each of the tools I listed. The latest versions of WinReducer now feature an auto-download tool. When you first open the software, you’ll be asked to activate your edition. Press No. You’ll then immediately meet a configuration error. This is fine. Click OK to head straight to the WinReducer configuration page.
Click the Software Installation button at the bottom of the configuration screen. Note the toggles for each of the aforementioned tools? Switch each one to On. Under Windows Themes Packs, select Official. Under WinReducer GUI Themes, select Default. Now press Download.
When the downloads and installations are complete, WinReducer will automatically close. Reopen it. You’ll now meet this screen, confirming your configuration is correct:
Press Start, followed by ISO, then browse to the location of your Windows 8 or 8.1 ISO. This will automatically begin the extraction of the ISO so it can be mounted as an offline image, an action we completed manually during the Windows 7 section of this article. When the extraction is finished, select Mount. This could take a little while. When it is complete, you’ll end up at this screen:
Select System. At the bottom of the screen you’ll spot the WinReducer Updates Tool button. Select this, and then load the updates for the correct system architecture your installation will be using.
Once the updates are downloaded, they’ll be integrated when you compile the ISO. Head to FINISH, press APPLY, then Yes.
You’ve done it!
Should I Create Streamlined Windows 10 Installation Media?
The glory of Windows 10 being so young is the as-yet minimal number of security and feature patches that have been released. Sure, there have been major updates to the entire system, but if you download a Windows 10 ISO, you’re likely to install a post-November update build. This means your clean install will be relatively up to date from the get-go.
As well as this, Microsoft is gearing up for the general release of the next major update to Windows 10: “Redstone 1,” also known as Anniversary Update. Microsoft is aiming to release Redstone 1 in time for the one-year anniversary of Windows 10 in July, meaning there will be a new base ISO for users to download and create installation media from.
If You Do Want to Do It
We wouldn’t be MakeUseOf, if we didn’t show you how to do this! To create streamlined Windows 10 installation media, you’ll need:
This process is exactly the same as for the Windows 8/8.1 streamline installation media, so I’m not going to flesh this out too much.
Download the linked version of WinReducer. Upon opening, you’ll meet the same activation and configuration error screens. Click through them. Head to the Software Installation button. Ensure each toggle is turned On. Under Windows Themes Packs, select Official. Under WinReducer GUI Themes, select Default. Now press Download. This will complete the WinReducer configuration.
Reopen WinReducer. Select Start, followed by ISO, then browse to your Windows 10 ISO. Wait for the ISO to extract and mount, then head straight to the System tab. Select the WinReducer Updates Tool, then load the updates for your corresponding system architecture. Download the available updates. Now head to Finish, then Apply.
As mentioned above, there will likely be a new and updated base Windows 10 ISO available this summer, though there is no confirmed date as yet. However, this will guarantee your installation is completely up-to-date, minimizing your download and update time following a clean installation.
Installation Media Complete!
You now know how to create streamlined Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, and Windows 10 installation media, saving you bundles of energy the next time you have to perform a clean install.
We also touched upon why it might not be entirely necessary to make streamlined Windows 10 installation media just yet – but as this is supposedly the last Windows operating system ever, I imagine that update catalogue is going to swell and swell. Meaning somewhere down the line, producing streamlined Windows 10 installation media will be extremely useful – and now you know how to do it.
Do you create streamlined Windows installation media? Do you prefer using the Command Prompt or a specialist piece of software? Let us know below!