Installing Windows XP is a miserable experience. Fact. Whether you’re installing it on a new computer or reinstalling it on your current machine, it’s the sort of activity that’s more than likely to ruin a weekend.

First, you sit twiddling your thumbs, waiting to enter your product code. Next, you specify your language, keyboard layout and time zone. And once the initial installation finishes, the real fun and games begin.

If your Windows CD doesn’t contain Service Pack 2 (SP2), you’ll have to install that separately. And then there’s the 80 or so updates that have materialised since SP2 was released. It never ends.

There is a solution, however. Over the following pages, we’ll show you the art of ‘slipstreaming’. No, we won’t be tucking in behind Lewis Hamilton and belting down the Hangar Straight. Instead, we’ll be demonstrating a handy time-saving process. You simply copy the files from your Windows CD on to your hard drive, weaving all the updates into them (including SP2), then burn the result to a blank CD. Nearly as much fun, then.

If you’ll be using your ‘slipdisc’ only on your current system, you can configure Windows to install itself in ‘unattended’ mode. This allows your product key, regional settings and other details to be entered automatically – your hands will never have to touch the keyboard. If you like, you can also slipstream your hardware drivers.

We’ll walk you through slipstreaming with nLite, a free utility that’s available from Follow our tips and you can rest assured: never again will a Windows installation be comparable to ripping out all your fingernails and dipping your hands into lemon juice.

1. You’ll need version 2.0 or later of the .Net Framework installed to slipstream Windows; if it isn’t showing under Add/Remove Programs, install version 3.5. Next, download nLite 1.41. But don’t launch the application just yet.

Step 1

Step 1