Interrupt windowsw startup for installtion tasks

I have created an installation disc that contains all the software I have to install for my company when configuring a new machine.  In all it is about 30 programs which I have configured to install silently one by one.  However some can only be installed after another component has installed and the computer is rebooted.  For example, our point of sale requires that .net 3.5 sp1 is installed first and the system rebooted.  

I am trying to find out how I can interrupt the windows startup process or set the script so that once the system reboots, it automatically restarts from where it left off.  I thought about breaking my install script into several sections, each one labeled to run after a restart, then add a command to the runonce area in the registry to launch the next script on startup.  I have never done this however and was wondering if anyone could instruct me on how to do this or maybe offer a better solution?  I am only using batch files right now and do not have a lot of experience with scripting but am willing to try anything.
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Glen KnightCommented:
If the script has to restart the computer the best bet is to get the script that restarts the computer to place an entry in the RunOnce value of the registry for the second part of the script?

This would only happen once the computer had logged back in but you could also script the registry auto login part.  Then remove this at the start of the new script?

Just a thought
Joseph DalyCommented:
It sounds to me that maybe imaging might be a better solution for you that scripting all these programs. With imaging you would create your one master image with everythign configured the way you want and then use that on any new mahcine you may get in.

Ghost is relatively inexpensive and works very well for this. Acronis is another option in this software which is also very good.

You could try DriveimageXML to image computers as this is a free tool.
arstaceyAuthor Commented:
I already use ghost primarily.  This is more for the initial setup.  We buy machines as we find deals on them so imaging is not always the best solution, especially across multiple vendors.
Glen KnightCommented:
If the image has been configured correctly using SYSPREP and the list of drivers created then there is no reason why the multi vendors should be a problem.

I used to work for a college that had 2500 workstations across 9 sites and every year they would get imaged to refresh them.  There was many different vendors involved and we only had 1 image.
arstaceyAuthor Commented:
Imaging would be my preferred method but let me explain why I have difficulty with that.  I am essentially the lone IT guy for  a small company with 40 remote locations.    I have a yearly budget of virtually $0 so anything I do has to be free.  We do not have a volume license agreement of any kind and buy our machines with XP (and soon 7) preinstalled.  I then boot them and run my setup cd, change the computer name (these machines are not domain computers) and send them on their way.  

I work for an agent of AT&T and the type of programs we have on the computers are constantly changing.  That is why I have found it easier to just have a setup folder with all my files and scripts so if we get a new shortcut, file, program or whatever (which we do all the time)  I can just add it to my setup script (or remove it if that is the case) and continue.

So, my point in all that nonsense was to say that imaging has not proven to be the best solution for me as the biggest part of the job is not the installation of windows, but adding the 40 plus programs that have to be installed and updated.  If I created an image of one of the machines now, there is a good chance that next month, if I used that image on a new machine, I would still have to log onto the machine and do more installs or uninstalls and updates.  

I think the RunOnce option will do what I need but I am going to follow your advice and revisit the imaging idea.  I think that may be a very useful tool for me in the future.  Thanks demazter!
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