All right, I’ll be honest in that 90% of this article is cut and paste from a much more detailed article at MicrosoftTechNet.
I recently did a reinstall of Vista for a friend. I didn’t know about this trick at the time but stumbled across it shortly afterwards. I had to awkwardly guess at answers and set up some basic accounts before installing a slew of updates.
Instead I should have just used Audit mode. From the article:
Audit mode enables OEMs and corporations to customize a Windows installation before shipping the computer to an end-user. In audit mode, you can install applications, add device drivers, run scripts, and test the validity of a Windows installation. Audit mode is a networked-enabled environment that does not require settings in Windows Welcome to be applied.
For attended installations, from Windows Welcome screen, press SHIFT+CTRL+F3.
After you have completed your customizations and have verified that the computer is ready to ship to a customer, configure the system to boot to Windows Welcome by running sysprep/oobe. The next time the system starts, Windows Welcome starts.
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