Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums

Automating Program Installation

  1. #1

    Posts : 32
    Windows 8 x64

    Automating Program Installation

    Has anyone found a way to automate program installation? For example if I have a fresh install of windows 8 and I have the installer for ccleaner, AVG and malwarebytes. Is there a way for me to take those .exe files and automate the entire installation process? I heard AutoHotkey might be able to do this but have not returned many search results.

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  2. #2

    Posts : 2,071
    Windows 8.0 x64

    There were programs to do it in XP, Vista and W7 such as nLite vLite etc.. they installed Windows with a certain set of applications. If you are just talking about installing user applications the common method for companies is to install over the Lan.

    For macro automation of installs a macro memorization program may be easier than AHK. With AHK unless you are doing a small number of key substitutions you have to learn a bit of programming. You can ask for help on the Autohotkey forums if you get stuck.

    Edit: there are now 2 main user forums for AHK

    AutoHotkey Community - share scripts and functions, get answers to your programming questions

    Index page ? AHKScript

    How many machines are you talking about?
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  3. #3

    Posts : 32
    Windows 8 x64

    I do manage a domain for a fairly large company with upwards of 1000 computers but this is not something I would be allowed to deploy for the company without having to go through some hoops. So right now it's basically for me for testing purposes and when I do clean installs on a computer. Being able to pretty much automate the task of installing the programs I want on a fresh install without having to click next, next, next. I know that ninite exists which is great but they only have support for a limited amount of programs.
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  4. #4

    Posts : 2,071
    Windows 8.0 x64

    There are a couple of scripting approaches. The Autohotkey type, which uses knowledge of the window by getting the window class name or title or even the text out of a control, to ID what to click on. Or the Sikuli type. Sikuli works mainly by recognizing an image. As example, almost all Dialog Windows in Windows use the class #32770(if my memory is right,) making it difficult to distinguish them. In such a case you might use Sikuli and take a small screen shot of a portion of the dialog, and have the Sikuli script wait until it sees that image before clicking etc..

    I haven't tried Sikuli myself yet. I just found out about it recently. But it looks easy to use if the software has distinctive graphics or icons.

    My guess would be you could get the Sikuli approach up and running more quickly. On the other hand AHK is a versatile scripting language that is handy to know on Windows. One difficulty with AHK is the syntax. It has legacy "comma based syntax" (just what I made up to call it) and newer "expression mode" syntax. The new releases are trying to move away from the comma mode(almost like the old Basic programs with the comma separated lists and no parens for function calls) and into expression mode and support for objects. In any case, if you delve into AHK I recommend AHK_L release and using "expression mode" whenever possible. It's not possible to avoid the comma list mode totally since many commands you need to use, still use it. As example WinWait and WinActivate etc..
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  5. #5

    Posts : 333
    Windows Server 2012 R2 / 8.1

    Right well from what you are saying if you do not want to have to jump through many hoops I was utilise the free tools Microsoft have given us to be able to not only deploy Images but also to deploy Applications.

    If it was me I would inside of my domain deploy a Windows Deployment Server, this will give you your central point of deployment integrating with Win PXE to be able to give you the capabilities to install the Images and applications over the network.

    If you desire you can read more about the WDS server here:
    Windows Deployment Services - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Once you have WDS integrated in to your environment you will want to look a Microsoft Deployment Toolkit(MDT). This is going to give you a vast amount of customisation over what you could do with just the WDS server.

    The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) provides a unified collection of tools, processes, and guidance for automating desktop and server deployments. In addition to reducing deployment time and standardizing desktop and server images, MDT offers improved security and ongoing configuration management.

    Find more information:
    Microsoft Deployment Toolkit - MDT, Free Tool, Windows, Server

    A website call Microsoft Virtual Academy has some great information on how to use some of these tools. Although the information is based on Windows 7 the skills are very valuable.

    Note: Microsoft Virtual Academy is free training all you will you our your customer would need to do is login with a Microsoft account.

    MVA Courses:

    Deploying Windows 7:

    Course Content:
    Windows 7 deployment methods and Technologies
    Prepare the environment for a windows 7 deployment
    Create a Windows 7 image
    Update a windows 7 image
    Deploy a windows 7 image
    Migrate Computers to Windows 7
    Configure and Manage Application Compatibility
    Light touch Installation using Windows Deployment Services
    Deploy using System Center Configuration Manager
    Create and Manage Windows PE environment
    Manage Deployments with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit

    Migrating To Windows XP to Windows 7

    Automating Migration from Windows XP to Windows 7
    Migrating User Files and Settings
    Hard Link Migration of User Files and Settings
    Installing Windows 7 on a Windows XP PC
    Using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit
    Deployment Using System Center
    Configuration Manger
    Creating a Windows 7 Image

    You will find information how to use the Microsoft tools to achieve this, Microsoft imaging tools are as follows:

    Microsoft Deployment Toolkit
    Assessment and Deployment Kit
    Windows Deployment Services
    System Center Configuration Manager
    Windows Automated Installation Kit

    On creating an image you will be ran through all the steps you need to be able to create images manually as well for example:

    Install WAIK
    Create a bootable disk
    Install and configure Windows 7 on a reference machine
    Sysprep (audit mode then generalize)
    Capture the image

    The great thing about this approach is assuming you have some Windows Server you will be ready to run this kind of environment.

    I know this is going to be a mind feild of information but i honestly think if you can set something like in to your infrastructure is going to make your life a lot easier.

    Please feel free to ask questions.

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