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Could Custom Program Files Location Be Specified Before Install ?


Could a custom "program files" location be specified before windows vista is install on a computer?

I'm a fan of running the windows operating system on low capacity high speed disks and off loading my programs and documents/data to other disks. This is a simple enough operation for the documents/data but there aren't a lot of options for the program files.

A popular windows "tweak" idea that gets close to what i want to do (if it actually worked) is tweaking the default program files location stored in registry so, as new programs are installed the default location given reflects the custom location specified.

The problem with this is the program file location values in registry do more then provide a default location for installing software. The programs that vista installs on the "c drive" during a normal installation need these keys unchanged if they're to be referred to correctly later on. So like many keys in the windows registry, they provide an answer to multiple versions of an inquiry and changing the answer tends to have further reaching effects then one might think.

So, as for solving this problem around separating programs from os, i see only two possible choices (neither of which i know how to pull off currently):

1. Make the change to the default program location before windows vista is installed (with a custom install disk or the like) so my custom program location is address from the get go, making every thing (windows programs included) install accordingly and insuring that there aren't multiple program locations to be confused over.

2. Some how, do some crafty registry work that would operate as follows: if a program asks for a default location to install a program, provide the custom location i specified, leaving the "programfilespath" and "programfilesdir" keys unaffected for the sake of the windows programs that by default exist on the c drive.


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