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I am not sure if I am confused as to the purpose of MDT.

We need to deploy a standard Windows 7 build to about 100 new computers, and more as time goes on.

Having followed a whole bunch of documentation, tutorials and white-papers etc, it seems that MDT will always go through the full processes of

  • installing windows
  • installing applications

Whereas what we need is a simple "take image of reference machine" followed by "clone image onto target". This should be much faster than the full installation routines followed by MDT.

Should I be doing something else with the captured WIM from MDT? Can I simply put it into WDS somehow as a "ready to copy" image?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Before you capture your WIM, configure your reference computer with whatever applications you want to have pre-installed. When the WIM is applied to a target, all that is left to do is join it to the domain and apply any updates.

With that said, the beauty of using MDT (and by extension, SCCM) is that you can create separate application packages that can be updated independently of the OS. Adding/removing/updating applications doesn't require a new image build every time. In exchange, you increase the time it takes to deploy an image to a target.

For us, the ability to keep applications separate from the OS image has made management of applications and images MUCH easier, but if you're in a situation where you have identical configurations for ALL machines and only do image rebuilds on an infrequent basis, then rolling it all together would be a better option for you.

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There are ways of scripting the installations and post-installs right down to having your systems pre-injected in AD and auto-join and everything.

Personally we've had times where things go wonky or not quite right, so the bare simplest way we use WDS is this:

  1. Create a reference system. Configure it with applications we want, updates, etc.
  2. Run the sysprep utility to reset Windows Activation and such to the out-of-box experience
  3. reboot with the image capture off the WDS server, and upload the drive image to the WDS server.
  4. Once the system image is on the WDS server, boot another identical machine with PXE and install that image.

It takes more overhead in managing the images; they get outdated, etc. and we're not scripting answer scripts for everything. We mainly use it for the occasional lab or deployment to get a decent base installation, then run the smaller post-image updates and join it to the domain.

So there's ways this could be improved but this method meets our needs and keeps it flexible enough to be usable, while not complicated enough to end up swearing in front of the kids when something decides to not cooperate at the last minute.

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WDS provides PXE boot capacity and the the ability to capture and deploy images. MDT provides a ready way to inject drivers and execute scripted installation steps. You can use a captured WIM created by WDS in MDT - I have done so on a few occasions.

My personal preference is to totally avoid using captured WIM images. While they work I have found the process to be more trouble than it is worth - fighting with chronically outdated images is a royal pain in the butt.

To integrate the two use the boot WIM image created by MDT as a boot option on your WDS server. You can use the WIM created by the capture process at that point as part of a scripted install.

I personally do the OS deploy with a stock WIM image, inject the drivers and make any other customizations (such as making a copy of the install image on the local drive) via MDT and deploy the software stack via EminentWare.

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