Tips and Tools for Deploying Windows 7 Part 4-Desktop Deployment

Like everyone else, you love Windows 7 and can’t wait to get it deployed throughout your organization. Let’s take a look at the many tips and tools available today to ease your burden of deployment. I have broken it down into several steps (or categories of steps). While writing all of this, it became obvious really fast that there is way too much stuff for a single post so I have broken it down into 5 parts. They are:

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Part 4: Desktop Deployment

Desktop Deployment can of course be done through the use of a Windows 7 DVD install or Upgrade if your old system is on Vista. You can also perform an install from a bootable USB key. Though the step by step steps are not the only way to perform this operation and may need to be tweaked in your environment, I think it is enough to get you to the finish line.

One of my favorite ways to deploy an operating system now is to deploy as a VHD. This works great for me on my own machines. Not sure if it will be the best method for your users but I wanted to at least make you aware of it. Basically, instead of deploying the OS on the metal of the machine, you are deploying it to a VHD. There are some limitations to this (e.g. unable to use bitlocker) but for those that are Trainers, Field Sales or some other role that forces people to have many machines or multiple boot scenario’s it is absolutely perfect. I put together a rather detailed series of video’s and blog posts about this technology a while back. You can find them at: Native Boot To VHD Part I of IV – Overview.

However, like with the other sections of this article, I find the more “automatable” methods to be far more appealing so let’s take a look at what you need to know to actually do the deployment. We need to start the discussion off with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010 Update 1. This will literally give you the capability to setup your deployment and deploy your operating systems and more. You can deploy Windows 7, Office 2010, and Windows Server 2008 R2 with the newly released Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 Update 1. MDT is the recommended process and toolset for automating desktop and server deployment. MDT provides you with the following benefits:

· Unified tools and processes, including a set of guidance, for deploying desktops and servers in a common deployment console.

· Reduced deployment time and standardized desktop and server images, along with improved security and ongoing configuration management.

· Fully automated Zero Touch Installation deployments by utilizing System Center Configuration Manager 2007 Service Pack 2 and Windows deployment tools. For those without a System Center Configuration Manager 2007 infrastructure, MDT uses Windows deployment tools for Lite Touch Installation deployments.

For those that have larger environments (200 or more PC’s) you will certainly want to look close at System Center Configuration Manager. Especially, if you have thousands of desktops, System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) is the best way. This gives you the ability to script, plan and customize your deployment right down to the network address and logged in user. You can leverage group policy, leverage Multi-Streaming and other technologies. To be clear, the MDT alone will get you to a light touch deployment where you can just start it and let it go. To get the Zero touch you would need to add the System Center Configuration Manager capabilities. John Baker did an 8 part deployment screencast series “Windows 7 Deployment” that goes into great detail with step by step on using the MDT.

I also know that John Baker and I will be doing a very detailed all day “FireStarter” event in the next couple months that will result in some similar step by step instructions for doing the Zero Touch deployment using System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). Check the events section below for more on this series. After this event series, we will make most (if not all) of the content available on our blogs.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the technologies available with MDT and System Center Configuration Manager.

Enhanced Imaging and File Delivery

Windows 7 streamlines and extends the tools that you use to engineer and deploy operating system images. With Windows 7, you have more options for building images and can service images throughout the operating system life cycle. The following sections describe the features in Windows 7 and the related tools that improve the deployment experience.

Deployment Image Servicing and Management

The Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool is a unified tool for building and servicing Windows 7 images offline, including both WIM and virtual hard disk (VHD) image files. DISM is a scriptable command-line tool that combines and extends the functions of several Windows Vista offline image utilities, including ImageX, International Settings Configuration (IntlCfg.exe), PEImg, and Package Manager (PkgMgr.exe). DISM also improves error reporting and troubleshooting support.

With DISM, you can mount and unmount system images and update operating system components. You can add, enumerate, and remove non-Microsoft device drivers. You can add language packs and apply international settings. Most importantly, you can easily maintain an inventory of offline images that includes drivers, packages, features, and software updates.

DISM supports using Windows Vista scripts on Windows 7 images by translating Package Manager commands to DISM commands. DISM can also manage Windows Vista images. For more information about DISM, see Deployment Image Servicing and Management Technical Reference.

Virtual Hard Disk Image Management and Deployment

Virtual hard disks (VHDs) traditionally require separate management and deployment solutions from the native file-based Windows images (WIM). You can use Windows 7 to manage Windows 7–based VHD images by using DISM and to deploy VHD files by using Windows Deployment Services. You benefit from reduced network bandwidth consumption when performing automated network deployments.

You can also deploy VHD files, such as WIM files, for automated deployment scenarios. These capabilities are especially valuable when using tools for server deployment in the data center.

Dynamic Driver Provisioning

With Dynamic Driver Provisioning in Windows 7, you can reduce the size of your images and the number of images you maintain. You do not need to update images when you introduce new hardware into your environment.

By centrally storing drivers on deployment servers, separate from images, you can install drivers dynamically or assign sets of drivers based on information contained in the BIOS. If you install drivers dynamically, Windows 7 enumerates Plug-and-Play devices during installation and then chooses drivers based on the Plug-and-Play IDs of the actual devices on the computer. Reducing the number of drivers on individual computers reduces the number of potential driver conflicts. This ultimately streamlines installation and setup times and improves the reliability of the computer. For more information, see Managing and Deploying Driver Packages.

Multicast Multiple Stream Transfer

You can use the Multiple Stream Transfer option in Windows 7 Multicast to deploy images across networks more efficiently. Instead of requiring each client to connect directly to a deployment server, Multicast enables deployment servers to broadcast images to multiple clients simultaneously.

In Windows 7, Multiple Stream Transfer enables servers to group clients that have similar bandwidth capabilities into network streams, ensuring the fastest possible transfer rate. In standard Multicast mode, introduced in Windows Server® 2008, the slowest computer sets the file transfer rate for other client computers. In standard Multicast mode without using Multiple Stream Transfer, you can now define minimum transfer performance thresholds to automatically remove slower computers from the multicast group. For more information, see Performing Multicast Deployments.

Do you need more help? Try this…

Steps More Information
1. Assess your company’s readiness Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit
2. Analyze application compatibility Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) Version 5.5
3. Prepare infrastructure for deployment Getting StartedPreparing the Windows Deployment Services Server
4. Install MDT 2010 and required components Preparing the Deployment EnvironmentMicrosoft Deployment Preparing for LTI Tools
5. Create a deployment share Microsoft Deployment Workbench Imaging Guide
6. Build a task sequence that installs Windows 7 Modifying Task Sequences
7. Create boot images Preparing the Deployment Environment
8. Copy boot images to a portable storage device Walkthrough: Create a Bootable Windows PE RAM Disk
9. Deploy Windows 7 to each computer Running the Windows Deployment Wizard
10. Activate Windows 7  Windows Volume Activation



If you like this post, please contact me on Twitter @ITProGuru to let me know. To keep from missing other posts, make sure you add an RSS to my blog.