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Installing Windows XP and Service Pack 2 with 1 CD

Daniel Schuhmann
Bert Töpelt

Original document: http://www6.tomshardware.com/howto/20040908/index.html

Installing Windows XP and the recently released Service Pack 2 no longer requires separate installations. Using a process called slipstreaming, Microsoft allows users to burn CDs that combine a Windows XP installation CD and Service Pack 2.

Installing or reinstalling WindowsXP typically requires the additional task of installing Service Pack 2 separately. After installing WindowsXP, users must then go through the tedious process of installing Service Pack 2 updates and drivers. However, Microsoft offers an alternative. Using a process called slipstreaming, users can burn CDs that combine a WindowsXP installation CD and Service Pack 2. This makes the whole Windows installation run considerably faster.

Administrators in larger companies can especially benefit from this method. But even private users can make their lives easier, especially if they have to reinstall their systems more frequently because of extensive hardware changes (modders, for example).


What Do You Need?

Integrating the service pack (the process is called slipstreaming) onto one CD requires:

  • the original WindowsXP installation CD, naturally with a legal license;
  • an application for extracting the boot loader (in our case, Isobuster);
  • CD burner software that supports bootable CDs (we use Nero);
  • Service Pack 2 in the network version;
  • a CD burner for creating the finished CD.

All classic versions of WindowsXP are suited to slipstreaming, so it does not matter whether it is an OEM version of WindowsXP Home or an update version of XP Professional. Even volume licenses for larger companies are supported. The only things that can cause problems are the special recovery CDs that come with most mobile computing systems. Often, special versions are used for these that create predefined partitions on the hard drive and install a complete system image. Slipstreaming is not always possible with these recovery CDs, but you can still try.

Where To Start: Copying The WindowsXP CD To The Computer

First a folder structure needs to be created on the hard drive. For the whole job, one gigabyte of disk memory is recommended just for the time being. In other words, a partition with enough free storage space should be selected.

A WIN_CD folder will be created here, as well as two sub-folders within it, CD and SP.

The content of the WindowsXP CD is now copied into the CD folder.

 Now it's time to download Service Pack 2, which you can do here: Microsoft WindowsXP SP2 English

This "network installation" differs from the standard version in that it contains all files. The standard version, on the other hand, compares up front which files are already available and only loads the necessary files from the Net, considerably reducing Internet traffic. However, it is really not suited for slipstreaming, which is why the 270 MB network version needs to be loaded. The WindowsXP-KB835935-SP2-ENU.exe (English) file is saved in the newly created SP directory.


The Slipstream Process

After downloading, it's time to integrate the service pack on the XP CD. In order to do this, the large file needs to be unpacked. Unpacking is controlled by the special parameter /x, for which you need the DOS prompt:

 Run (Execute) | cmd opens the DOS prompt

After the prompt has been opened, you need to switch to the SP directory. This is done with the command cd \WIN_CD\SP. After this, the service pack installation is started with the parameter /x. The complicated filename does not need to be typed in; just pressing the Tab key will insert the filename into the window.

C:\WIN_CD\SP> WindowsXP-KB835935-SP2-ENU.exe /x

After the parameter /x is added and the Enter key is pressed, off it goes.

The default folder can be applied easily and confirmed by clicking on OK. This unpacks the service pack files.

Once the files have been unpacked, the actual integration process begins.

Here too, a special parameter needs to be transferred to the program.

For this, you need the DOS prompt again.

First, you have to switch to the directory i386\update, which is done with the commands cd i386 and cd update. From this directory, the file update.exe is then started with the parameter /integrate:.

Note: With earlier service pack versions (WindowsXP SP1 and all service packs in Windows 2000 and NT4) this parameter was still /s (for slipstream).

C:\WIN_CD\SP> cd i386

C:\WIN_CD\SP\i386> cd update

C:\WIN_CD\SP\i386\update> update /integrate:c:\win_cd\cd

During the integration process, which takes some time, a dialog box displays the progress.

A dialog box tells you when the process is complete.

You will see that the integration was successful when you open the C:\WIN_CD\CD folder. After the slipstream process, the file win51ip.sp2 will also appear here.

The file win51ip.sp2 is the name for the integrated SP2

Extracting The Boot Loader

The WindowsXP version you just created can be used without problem for installing on a local computer or via the network. If you need to create a bootable CD, however, a few additional steps are required.

First of all, a boot loader is needed. This corresponds to the boot sector on a diskette or a hard drive.

Begin by extracting the start image from the original WindowsXP CD with the Isobuster program.

This can be downloaded for free from smart-projects.


After it is downloaded and installed, the Isobuster program is launched. In the combo box, select the CD drive where the WindowsXP CD is located. The CD's content structure appears on the left-hand side of the program window. Here, you must choose Bootable CD.

The file Microsoft Corporation.img can now be seen on the right side. After the file is right-clicked and the Extract Microsoft Corporation.img menu item is selected, the boot loader can be saved.

Save the boot loader to the C:\WIN_CD folder.

Backing up the complete boot image: Microsoft Corporation.img


Burning The Bootable CD

After the boot loader has been extracted, the next step is to burn the CD. This works with any burning software that supports the creation of bootable CDs. We chose Nero Burning ROM 6.3.

After starting Nero, select CD-ROM (Boot).

A bootable CD is selected as the project

Confirm the dialog box by clicking on on New. Next, in Nero Explorer, move the files from the directory C:\WIN_CD\CD to the CD root directory on the left-hand side.

Just like a "normal" CD: the files are copied to the CD root directory

Click on the Burn button to open the Burn dialog.

Here, you need to make some more important settings, otherwise the CD will not boot.

The crucial settings are found in the Boot tab.

The image file is selected by clicking on Browse ....

In the Open dialog box, make sure that File type is set to All Files, because our boot loader does not have the extension .IMA expected by Nero.

The expert settings must then be enabled so that the emulation type can be changed - set it to No Emulation.

It is also extremely important to set the number of sectors to be loaded to 4. Why? Simple: Each sector has 512 bytes, and our boot loader has 2 kilobytes. Therefore, four sectors need to be filled.

Finally, enter the name of the original XP CD on the Label tab.

Now you can burn the CD and use it to install WindowsXP with the integrated Service Pack 2.



Last Update: 03 March 2004