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I have started using WDS to setup win7 client machines. The next step is deploying specific applications (both MSFT and non-). Can WDS be used for this or is there a recommended solution that I can tie in with it?

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As Bart has metioned, WDS is just for system images - but don't forget the system image could contain commonly-used software. You might run into activation/license issues with things like Office though. The way our build process works is that the system gets re-imaged and then Office pushed out through GPO. We have CS5 on some of our laptops as well - they are part of the image as we had issues trying to deploy several GB of stuff over a MSI. –  tombull89 Feb 28 '12 at 14:14
    
So if I wanted Chrome or OpenVPN installed.. is this the sort of thing that SCCM is used for? The distinctions between all these products is still quite hazy in my head. –  ethrbunny Feb 28 '12 at 14:20
    
I don't know, as we don't use SCCM - but I believe you are corrct. –  tombull89 Feb 28 '12 at 14:23
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3 Answers

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There are a couple ways you could go about this.

You can capture an image with your desired software installed. This isn't a favorite of mine since it tends to age badly and be more work than it is worth.

I suggest you look at the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit to deploy out images as part of your process. This allows for scripted installations. This includes driver injection and the ability do silient installs as part of the deploy process. It works pretty well, plus it is a free product. I used this method for a while before settling with the method outlined below.

My favorite method is using EminentWare (now Solar Winds Patch Manager) to push out both full packages and updates. When I image in this fashion I use WDS to do a network boot and pull down a lite touch MDT image. I have a small script that pulls down all of the available Windows Updates in this process. Whatever updates and packages I have approved for my build will automatically be pushed out and installed.

This results in a perfectly built reproducible and fully up to date system every time.

EDIT -

Although I have a strong leaning to EminentWare SCCM (and likely a couple other products) can be used in the same fashion.

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Allow me to add to Tim's suggestion of MDT... MDT allows you to install applications (even 3rd party applications like Adobe reader), updates, and drivers. In the How-to Videos section of this page, the second video is all about using MDT to deploy Windows and Office. More information on using MDT to deploy can be found on the Windows 7 Springboard pages. And remember, MDT is free and will integrate with your WDS server or SCCM.

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WDS is for deploying Windows system images. To deploy applications, you can deploy MSI installers via GPO, or you can look for third-party installer software to handle it. Or use products that deploy them from a central server like appdeploy from VMWare.

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