MS-Windows

This article describes how to use Batch.exe to gather information from an existing Windows 98 installation and use it to create a .inf file to be used as a script to automate Windows setup.
This information is adapted from the Win98 version of the Batch.exe Help files.

Also see "Automating Windows Setup with Script Files".

Automating Windows 98 Setup using a script

During a Windows installation based on a script, Setup consults the script for each piece of required information instead of prompting the user. This allows unattended installation of Windows 98 at full speed with standardized settings, including networking.

Windows 98 Batch.exe automates the creation of an installation script.

Windows 98 Batch.exe

The Windows 98 Batch.exe program provides a simple GUI interface to specify many setup choices to be included in an installation script. And its Gather Now command further automates the process by using information directly from the registry of the host machine.

In addition to Windows installations, Batch.exe also automates custom setups for IE4, and other shell and desktop options new in Win98. For example, Internet security settings and proxy settings could be set for all machines.

Batch.exe, Windows 98, is a 32-bit application using Windows Common Controls. Its automatic registry examination is supported only under Windows 98 and not Windows NT.

Batch.exe 98 can

  • Customize Windows 98 settings that are usually altered after installation, including network settings like protocols, services, etc.
  • Restrict user choices during setup, insuring that each new machine has the same optional programs installed
  • Insure that all Windows 98 installations are identical, making support simpler

Some things that Batch.exe cannot do

  • Determine Uninstall options
  • Set up 16-bit networking (clients, services, and protocols)
  • Determine some installation options pertaining to batch setup only (for instance, the 'No to All' option)
  • Automate certain Windows 98 setup dialog boxes
    Examples of messages that cannot be skipped include "Looking for a Previous Version of Windows" and warnings about disk space and conflicting network components. Error messages will cause Setup to stop and wait for user input.

Gather Now

When run from a Windows 98 machine, Batch.exe's Gather Now command retrieves settings from the Registry and automatically creates an .inf file usable as a Windows98 installation script file. Gather Now scans for settings in the following areas:

  • All known Microsoft 32-bit networking clients and their settings
  • All known Microsoft 32-bit networking services and their settings
  • All known Microsoft 32-bit networking protocols and their settings
  • Current video resolution settings
  • Currently installed printers
  • Current time zone
  • User-level security settings
  • Current Windows directory
  • Current user and machine name and description information
  • MRU (Most Recently Used) locations.
  • Optional components
  • Net card settings

Creating a basic script (.inf) file with Batch.exe

  1. Open Batch 98 (Batch.exe).
  2. Click on the button marked Gather Now
  3. Click General Setup Options, click the User Info tab, fill in the appropriate list boxes, and click OK.
  4. If these settings are sufficient for your batch setup installation, click Save Settings to INF to create the .inf file, and quit Batch 98.

Defining more settings

Batch setup can set and automate almost every option available in Windows 98 setup.

  1. In the General Setup Options dialog box, click each tab, fill in the appropriate boxes, and click OK.
  2. Optional Components is used to select the components to include in the completed Windows 98 installation. The default settings reflect those of a "typical" installation. To include a component, select its check box in Available Components. To exclude a component, clear its check box. Click OK to record the settings and return to the main Batch window.

In addition, the powerful customization ability of the Optional Components section allows administrators to limit certain choices and include new components that might not usually be provided with Windows 98.

  1. Click the Network Options button to define network settings. You can choose to install the Client for Microsoft Networks and the Client for NetWare 3.x/4.x networks automatically. Options for each client can also be set from within batch setup, including validated logon, preferred server, default logon, the first network drive, and more. You can also enable support for many third-party networks. In theNetwork Options dialog box, type the values as required. Click OK to record the settings and return to the main Batch window.
  2. Network protocols: Batch setup includes support for automatically installing protected-mode stacks for NetBEUI, IPX/SPX, TCP/IP, and 32-bit DLC. You can also define settings for IPX/SPX and TCP/IP. These options are available in the Network Options dialog box, Protocols tab.
  3. Network services: You can choose to install the File and Printed sharing service for either Microsoft networks or NetWare 3.x/4.x networks in batch setup. Using information from the Windows 98 Resource Kit, you can choose to enable support for additional network services, clients, and protocols.
  4. Custom setup controls: Batch setup makes it easy for administrators to control how much input a user has while running Windows 98 setup. Administrators can choose which (if any) options Windows 98 setup will stop for user input and which defaults to provide. This allows administrators to control as much of setup for users as they choose.
  5. Printer support: You can use batch setup to set up printers. Choose to install specific printers (even network printers) or simply skip the Printer Setup wizard.
  6. Uninstallation support: Batch setup can be keyed to automatically create Uninstall information, to automatically skip the Uninstall Wizard, or to prompt the user with the choice to do so during setup.
  7. Multiple machine setup capability: Batch setup can save up to 9,999 separate .inf files at once. By supplying a text file listing each machine's computer name (and IP address, if desired), you can save multiple .inf files at once, all created from the same template. These options are provided in the Multiple Machine-Name Save.
  8. Automatic .inf creation based on current Registry settings: Batch setup can be made to scan the existing Registry (on a Windows 98 machine) and create an .inf file based on information found therein. Click Registry Scanning for more information.
  9. Other settings: Use Batch setup to specify many settings not normally available during regular setup, like screen resolution and color depth, the ability to skip past many setup dialog boxes, and more.
  10. When you are satisfied that all settings are correct, click the Save settings to INF button. Batch setup creates an .inf file in Msbatch.inf format with the default name of msbatch.inf and then ends the Batch setup session.

Using the Batch.exe script file with Windows Setup

The Batch.exe program can be found in the Windows 98 CD-ROM folder \tools\reskit\batch.

Note: The Windows 95 version is found on the Windows 95 CD-ROM in \Admin\Nettools\Netsetup folder. The Windows 95 version does not include the Gather All command.

To run the Windows 98 Setup with the script, use the setup command followed by the path and filename for the .inf file created by Batch setup. (This file is named Msbatch.inf by default). For example, type the following at the command line:

setup c:\msbatch.inf

Windows 98 setup will begin installation, consulting the .inf file as required.

Notes:
  • You must specify a complete path for the .inf file. Otherwise, Setup will stop with an error

  • Windows 98 Setup prompts the user for any blank settings not specified in the script, unless you choose otherwise
  • Error messages will cause Setup to stop and wait for user input
  • If you run Windows 98 setup with an .inf file created by Batch.exe you will not be warned to remove any disks in floppy drives before setup restarts the computer - Be sure all floppy disks are removed from drives before starting setup or after the emergency boot disk has been created

Editing a script file with Batch.exe

You can load an .inf format setup script in Batch.exe for editing by including the filename on the command line. For example:

batch c:\myfile.inf

Notes

  • If you start Batch.exe without the name of a file as a parameter and then save the settings with the name of an existing .inf file, settings in the original file are destroyed before the new settings are saved.
  • If you start Batch.exe using the name of an existing .inf file as a parameter, new settings are added to the existing file and old settings are either modified or preserved when the file is saved.

For more information, see Appendix D, "Msbatch.inf Parameters," in the Windows 98 Resource Kit.


Bruce Miller, 2000, 2014