I would like to deploy a reference installation of Windows 10 Pro with software and user settings to my physical clients. I have a couple of questions concerning this process:

  1. Can I start the development of the reference image without a product key? I would simply install Windows 10 in the virtual machine, configure it and use the Sysprep tool.

  2. After the setup of the master machine, I would like to clone this machine to several physical machines (Laptops, Desktops). How do I deploy the Virtual Disk to the physical machine? Is there a better solution than using Clonezilla or Ghost to copy the image to the disk and then using GParted to resize the filesystem accordingly? I am little concerned whether this will create a "clean" filesystem.

  3. What's about hardware differences? Will new hardware be recognized and will the system be optimized for the new hardware (e.g. SSD drives should disable defragmentation during installation of Windows or tablet mode should be enabled on convertibles)?

  4. In the last step I would install the missing drivers on each machine individually.

Is this the right workflow for a small amount of clients or am I wrong?

Sadly, the official documentation is not really optimized for "small" deployments of a handfull of clients.

Thanks for any hints!


  • Sadly, the official documentation is not really optimized for "small" deployments of a handfull of clients. - I don't understand that statement. What documentation? Why would the process be different based on the number of clients? If the process works for 1,000 client why would it not work for 100 clients, or 10 clients?
    – joeqwerty
    May 7, 2017 at 14:20

1 Answer 1

  1. Yes, you can sysprep without activating your reference image. Just keep in mind that your Windows VM will stop working eventually after 30 days. I have no experience with this though, since we use volume licenses. I mean...just try it. Prepare to run into trouble with sysprep though, Windows 10 made it a pain, because the bloatware that comes with it (AppxPackages of Candy Crush etc..) will prevent sysprep sometimes.
  2. You can use third party and linux based tools to capture and deploy Windows machines, these work kind of well usually. However, in our tests, we didn't see advatanges to the official MDT by Microsoft. MDT is ugly and not very fun to use, but it has some nice features. Best workflow is to deploy via network share and install as much software as possible after the deployment. That way, you won't have to update the software on the reference image and hope that sysprep won't stop working this time, you rather just put the new Installers on the MDT server and embed them. Software installation after deployment can be automated in MDT as long as the software has a silent install option. This guy on youtube made a really nice video series on how to configure and run MDT with PXE Boot. More modern would be something like Desired State Configuration, where you just install stock images and do the customizations later via scripts. You could also try the Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer. There are lots of variants for delpoying clients. However, with Windows, it will always be a pain - there are lots of errors to deal with and documentation is horrible for most of the solutions. Unfortunately there's no easy way to get to your perfect workflow. In the end you have to choose which ones hurts the least for you. For me it's MDT, but I plan to look into DSC and Configuration Designer in the near future.

  3. When you run sysprep before capturing the image, you shouldn't have trouble with initalizing hardware or optimization stuff. Windows will setup the target machine like it was a fresh install. I'd recommend injecting the network drivers though. Even without sysprep, Windows 10 handles it very well when running on different hardware suddenly.

  4. You can install the drivers later by hand, or inject them, or just run Windows Update (as long as the network drivers work). With Windows 10, devices that aren't recognized automatically became very rare.

So yeah, you kind of made the right plans, now you should just choose 2-3 imaging solutions and begin testing ;)

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