Els's blog

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Vista deployment

The last few days I've been looking at Vista deployment methods.
And today I'll share some of my experiences with you.

There are quite some tools available for you to deploy Vista to your client machines.
  • Windows Deployment Services (the next version of RIS)
  • BDD 2007 Beta 1 (Business Desktop Deployment)
  • WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit)
  • Windows System Image Manager (the new Setup Manager)
  • Windows Image Format or WIM files
  • ImageX
Using BDD you can perform what is called a Lite Touch Installation. You can prepare almost everything on the server and only minimal user interaction will be required on the client.
To boot the client, you can use a CD containing a Windows PE image that you created with BDD.
When the client starts, this image will be loaded and it will ask you for credentials, a computername and whether you want to join a domain or not. Then you select an image from the list of available images, you choose extra applications to install and that's it. Everything else will happen automatically and after a few minutes your new Vista machine is up and running!

The images used are all Wim images, the new image file format for Vista.
By the way, even a normal manual Vista install uses Wim images. If you extract the Vista iso, you'll see that all there is in the iso is a bunch of Wim files.
So everything is Wim.

Since most IT Pros are lazy by default, we don't like to create boot CDs for every image that we need. No, it would be so much better if we could just boot from the network and start downloading the necessary image files.
That's what you need Windows Deployment Services for. As I said it is the next version of RIS and it works almost the same way. The only difference is that you can deploy Wim images with WDS. (In mixed mode it still supports deploying RIS and Riprep images too.)
With WDS you use a PXE boot to start the client, press F12 when the system tells you to and load a Windows PE image. From within the Windows PE environment, you select the correct image to load and there you go, Vista will be installed and ready to use in no time.

I do have 1 remark here, I keep wondering why Microsoft did not use ADS as a basis for WDS? I like ADS so much more than RIS.
It has everything you need (ADS already uses XML files, it uses imaging, task sequences, ...), all they had to do is make it support Wim images.
And it does not require you to do anything on the client, not even press F12!
So why???
If anyone has the answer, please enlight me!

Next week I hope to give you a detailed description on how to use all the tools I just mentioned and the steps to take.

By the way, during my experiments, I also tried to boot Windows PE from my USB stick. After a lot of googling, swearing and testing, I finally succeeded.
I can boot into Windows PE from my USB stick now, but I can't download the full Vista image.
Anyway, since I saw how many people have questions on how to boot from USB (for Vista or XP or whatever), I'll give you the details on how to accomplish this tomorrow!

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