Installing applications silently (or at least quietly)

This content is 19 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

As part of the ongoing development of my unattended Windows XP build, I need to install core applications without any user intervention. Anybody who has attempted any form of application packaging will know that it is something of a black art and whilst many applications install with standard InstallShield/MSIExec command line switches, quite a few do not. So far, with my limited set of applications, I haven’t had to resort to using the Windows Scripting Host SendKeys method but I’m sure its just a matter of time.

The developers of Unattended, a Windows deployment system have written an excellent summary of performing unattended/silent installations using the many popular application installers.

Other references that have been useful are the Package Knowledge Base and the Microsoft Software Forum Network (MSFN) application switches forum (although that can take some time to navigate to find the latest information for a given application).

2 thoughts on “Installing applications silently (or at least quietly)

  1. For simple silent installations, I love using WIX. You can add (and remove) files/folders, create shortcuts, add users, add registry settings, create a web site or setup a database simply. With more work, you can even create a complete install package. The output is MSI, which is ideal for distributing via GPOs.

    WIX is free – it’s acutally open source sortware created and maintained mainly by Microsoft. You can get the software, and source, on sourceforge. There’s also a .chm file with some help, a few blog entries around the internet. I’ve posted a few links to WIX up at, and I hope to have a few more in the next few weeks – and maybe even a richer tutorial.

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