I've recently started doing some work with a local non profit refurbishing PC's for low income families and homeless shelters. Currently we're installing everything manually, but we're looking for a way to automate the installation of applications after windows is loaded (things such as open office, adobe reader, etc) We can't use a simple drive image since all the computers are donated and therefor nearly all different. And as anyone whos ever tried to switch a drive from one machine to another knows, that creates problems which are often even worse than just doing a clean install and loading all the software would have been. If anyone has experience with a similar process and can help out I'd appreciate it.
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There are few ways of doing this; some are complicated like writing a script, others are easy like using third-party unattended program. Also this can be done using NiNite, an online tool. http://ninite.com/
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