There’s little doubt that Microsoft has been busy over the last few years with the release of Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 about a year later. Since then Windows 8.1 itself has had 2 major updates which could traditionally be called Service Packs, and Microsoft are now working on Windows 10. Yet according to statistics, there remains a Windows operating system that has more users than all other operating systems in the world combined and is still supported by Microsoft.
That is of course Windows 7 which was released in 2009. Ridiculously Windows 7 has received only one Service Pack in over five years, and has had no updated install DVDs or ISOs since 2011. If you install Windows 7 these days and then run Windows Update, the list of hotfixes and patches is staggering, and well over 150 before you even get to extras like .NET Framework! If you’re continuing to use Windows 7, with the unending amount of updates to install, what’s the best option if you want to install Windows 7 in future?
A quick way to update Windows is by installing patches from an offline source such as a USB flash drive or hard drive, this is faster than Windows Update via the internet but still takes time. A better option is to integrate all the updates into the Windows media so they are installed as part of the original operating system. Windows XP has a popular tool called nLite to do this, Vista has its own version called vLite which doesn’t work too well with Windows 7 Service Pack 1. Here we’ll show you how to slipstream most of the post Service Pack 1 Windows 7 updates into a Windows install media, including newer Internet Explorer and .NET versions. This means minimal updates are required from the start and Windows doesn’t become bloated with hundreds of separate updates before you even start to use it. Although this may seem complicated, the process is quite easy once you’ve gone through it once or twice.
Downloading the Required Windows Updates
The first thing you need is obviously a copy of all the Windows updates that are needed to integrate into the install media. For this purpose we find the Windows Updates Downloader (WUD) tool is most useful because it’s easy to use and the update lists are periodically updated to reflect the latest patches. Here’s how to download the needed files.
1. Download Windows Updates Downloader and install the program.
2. Go to the Update Lists page on the same website and download the list you want for Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit). Once downloaded, double click the .ULZ file to add the list to the WUD program.
When you wish to created an updated Windows 7 media you can simply visit this page again and download an updated list and then download the required missing updates.
3a. Open the WUD program and make sure the Update list in the drop down is for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 x86 or x64. This next part is important because you don’t need all of the updates on offer, only those required to get Windows up to date in patches. In the main window tick the boxes for Security Updates, Non-Security Updates, .NET Framework 3.5.1 Updates and WMP12 Updates.
3b. Expand Optional Updates and tick the box for Internet Explorer 11. Additionally you can also select Silverlight, .NET Framework 4.5.2 and the Malicious Software Removal Tool from the “MS Security Products” category. Finally click Download to start downloading all the updates, there should be over 200 so it might take a while.
4a. You now need to download another update list which fills in the gaps because the standard list doesn’t download everything, Remote Desktop and some other patches are missing and will otherwise show in Windows update. We have created the ULZ file below to download the extras from Microsoft, download and double click it to import into WUD.
4b. Select the Extras list from the drop down and tick the Extra Security Updates and Extra Non-Security Updates boxes, additionally tick the .NET 4.5.2 Updates box if you plan to integrate the latest .NET Framework. Finally click Download to get these updates.
Alternative: There is also another program that you can use for downloading updates called Windows Hotfix Downloader although it downloads almost double the amount of updates, most of which are not required for general use. This not only increases the download times but also vastly increases the time it takes to integrate the updates into the Windows media.
Integrate The Updates Into The Windows Media
Now you have the updates ready, they can be integrated into the media. We’ve mentioned nLite and vLite above, and the good news is the same developer has created a new tool called NTLite that does similar but works on windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 and even Windows 10. NTLite is still in beta but has been fine during testing and is also shareware so not all options are available, but the needed integration functions are available in the free version.
1. First and foremost you need a Windows 7 Service Pack 1 DVD or ISO image to hand. If you don’t have one you can download an official SP1 ISO which can be burned to DVD or written to USB later.
3. Download NTLite Free and install it (a portable mode is available during install).
4. Launch it and click the Add button and browse to the folder you extracted/copied in step 2, click Select Folder. Windows 7 will then show in the Target list.
5. Right click the operating system in the list and select Load, the program will extract the Install.WIM to the Temp folder. The operating system will then show as Loaded with a green icon and a number of options will be available down the left side of the window.
6. Click the Updates option on the left, this is where all the updates are integrated but it’s incredibly easy to add them.
Click the arrow below the Add button and choose Folders and subfolders found packages, then browse to the folder you saved the downloaded patches from Windows Updates Downloader above, and click Select Folder. After a few seconds the list will be populated with all the updates to integrate. NTLite will add the updates in the best order automatically.
If you don’t want to install the extras of Silverlight, .NET Framework 4.5.2 and the Malicious Software Removal Tool etc, you can now begin the task of starting the integration process. If you do want to add them, go straight to the section on page 2 about adding optional extras although you can still integrate the updates first and add the extras later.
7. Click the Apply button, tick the Create ISO image box at the top and choose the save location and file name for the ISO image file. Press the Green Start button and wait for the process to finish.
The speed of the integration process depends a great deal on the speed of your system’s drives, a fast system with an SSD could finish in under half an hour, a low spec desktop or laptop could take a couple of hours or more.
Tip: The whole integration process can be sped up massively by using an SSD or even a RAM drive if you have tons of memory (16GB+). NTLite defaults to the Windows Temp folder which is usually on C, so if you have moved your temp files folder from your SSD drive it would be a good idea to go to File > Settings and change the “Temporary file directory” to a folder on an SSD or RAM drive. In short, put the folder on the fastest drive your system has with at least 7GB of free space.
8. Once completed, you will have an ISO image which can then be burned to DVD, written to USB flash drive or loaded in to virtual machine software such as VirtualBox or VMware Player for testing. Note that after installation is complete and you’re at the desktop a reboot is required before you can check for updates. This is due to some updates which NTLite decides cannot be integrated and are instead installed on first logon.
With a check of Windows Update you can see we only have a few updates left which can be included by reading the next section. Do be aware that you still might have drivers and any other updates which are region or language specific to download, but the vast majority are now already installed.
Read more of our integration guide on page 2.