Installation profiles could automatically pre configure WordPress with a set of activated plugins, change the default activated theme and could also possibly change/add some default settings/content?–all during the install process. This could be beneficial to a lot of users/developers allowing them to jump right into content creation instead of site configuration.
Users could create a profile that contains all their settings and activated plugins they’d usually have to configure after installing WP. The profile that they create could also be used across all their blogs–saving a lot of time.
I’m thinking something along the lines of being able to export my blogs configuration into an XML file just like you can with blog content into a WordPress eXtended RSS file. I use the same settings for each WordPress install I do and since I occasionally reformat my WordPress powered sites, it would be an awesome time saver to just upload an XML file and have my site setup the way it was before the reformat took place. Of course, there are other uses for install profiles so implementing an extensible way of creating them would be a good idea. What do you think of the idea?
So far, the closest thing we have to installation profiles is DD32′s newest project, WordPressQI or WordPress Quick Install which provides options to change the pre-installed plugins that are installed along with WordPress as well as configuring permalink settings up front.