Install your operating system.
You may want to build an Unattended Install to save time and reduce the chance of error when you need to rebuild your Standard Desktop Image. This can be done using nLite* or Deployment Server’s Scripted OS Install Wizard.
Slipstream Service Packs, Hotfixes, and Update Packs to reduce the resulting size of the OS. This can be easily done using nLite*.
Remove unused components to decrease the file size† and memory requirements‡. This can be easily done using nLite*.
Do not join the source computer to a domain. When the image is deployed to the destination computer, Sysprep can join it to the domain.
Do not install any additional drivers. Drivers will be dynamically installed during the image deployment to the destination computer.
Tweak the OS to conform to your company’s desktop standard. This can be easily done using nLite*, via Active Directory Group Policy, or manually.
Disable the Antivirus Alerts if you plan to manage antivirus at a corporate level.
Disable the Windows Firewall and Alerts if you have a corporate Firewall.
Disable Automatic Updates and Alerts if you plan on updating Windows via Deployment Server or Patch Management.
Change the Driver Signing Policy to Ignore if you will be using unsigned drivers.
If you would like to provide the Administrator password in the sysprep.inf file so that it can be changed later without re-creating your image (recommended), leave the Administrator password blank on the source computer. See Step 1 for instructions on supplying the Administrative password in the sysprep.inf file.
Install your applications.
Only install applications that are required for all computers in your company. You can install other applications after the image deployment departmentally or individually.
If you use Notification Server, you can install the Notification Server Agent now.
Finalize the source computer.
Review everything to make sure it is configured correctly.
Reboot the computer to make sure all pending file writes are made.
Capture the Image.
Use the Create Hardware Independent Image sample job to capture your image. You may make a copy of this sample job and modify it to suit.
Create Distribute Software jobs/tasks for the applications that are not installed as a part of the Standard Desktop Image.
Use the application vendor’s Silent Install option if one is available and feasible.
Otherwise, you can create a silent installer for any application using Wise SetupCapture. See KB Article #20052 (color:blue'>http://kb.altiris.com/article.asp?article=20052&p=3 font-family:Arial;) for details.
* nLite is a freeware tool that will add updates to and remove unwanted components from your Windows Setup files. nLite can then create an Attended or Unattended Install CD for you. Go to font-family: Arial;color:blue'>www.nliteos.com for details.
† I was able to get the size of Windows XP down to 400MB and Windows 2000 down to 250MB installing minimal components using nLite.
‡ I was able to get the memory usage of Windows XP from 73MB down to 49MB and Windows 2000 from 47MB down to 33MB installing minimal components using nLite.