Free Tools for Windows Deployment (and a light touch deployment demo) – Migration and Deployment (Part 2 of 19)

Microsoft Virtual Academy in part 2 of our “Migration and Deployment” series, we discuss the free tools that can make it very easy for you to deploy Windows 8 (and Windows Server 2012, although we’re focusing today on Windows 8) in a small to mid-sized business environment.

There are two toolsets in particular that I want to introduce to you today, and then I’ll show you how easy it is to build a simple network based “Light Touch Installation” (LTI) of Windows 8.

“What are those two tools?”

I was getting to that…

Windows Assessment and Deployment Toolkit (also known as the Windows ADK)

The Windows ADK “contains all of the tools that you need to customize, assess, and deploy Windows operating systems to new computers.”  The following excellent description comes from the Windows ADK download page:

“Windows Deployment is for OEMs and IT professionals who customize and automate the large-scale installation of Windows, such as on a factory floor or across an organization. The Windows ADK supports this work with the deployment tools that were previously released as part of the OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK) and the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) and include Windows Preinstallation Environment, Deployment Imaging, Servicing and Management, and Windows System Image Manager.”

So these are a compilation of all of the tools that can, for example, create, capture, manage, customize, and deploy Windows images (using the DISM tool), or perform backup and restoration of user documents and configuration details (using the User State Migration tool ( USMT ) ).  The Windows ADK replaces the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK), and adds some additional tools such as the Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) and the Windows Performance Toolkit, as well as tools for customizing the Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE).

“So, Kevin.. In the past we could choose to directly use the tools in the WAIK, or we could use the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) to build deployments and automate the use of the tools in the WAIK.  Is that still true?”

Basically, it is!  But instead of the WAIK, you get the Windows ADK and drive those tools with the MDT.  (The tools in the Windows ADK are also used by the Operating System Deployment (OSD) features of System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, which will be discussed in a later part of this series.)

Speaking of the MDT…

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT)

The MDT is a Solution Accelerator for operating system and application deployment. MDT 2012 Update 1 (the current version) supports deployment of Windows 8, Windows 7, Office 2010, Office 365, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2008 R2 in addition to deployment of Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, and even Windows XP.

This tool lets you pick many methods of deployment – from creating a full-blown disk image that can then be burned to DVD or USB device and booted-to/installed-from, to creating a boot and install image that can be installed using a PxE boot and network-based installation (taking advantage of Windows Deployment Services (WDS)).   With the MDT alone, you can do a “Light Touch Installation” (LTI) deployment.  (Combining the MDT with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager or System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3 you can do “Zero Touch Installation” (ZTI) or “User Driven Installation” (UDI) deployments, which is a topic for a future article.)

You can also add applications and drivers to your installation.  The process lets you define a “task sequence” that is a customizable list of the operations performed.  Those operations might also include the automated backup and restore of a users files and settings, in the case where you’re doing a migration from an older to a newer operating system and want to make it as painless for the users as possible.

And if you want to really go crazy – you can use the MDT to install OS, Applications, Drivers, etc. and then automatically capture the result as an redistributable image containing everything you need to deploy.

“This all sounds great, but what does it cost?”

As I mentioned earlier, it’s a Solution Accelerator – so it’s FREE.  $0.00.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Zip.

Okay.. to wrap up this article, here is a quick video showing off some of the MDT and the areas that can be configured…

(This is better viewed fullscreen)

For a more detailed demonstration of, and even a chance to work with the MDT and other Windows 8 Deployment technologies, make sure you come to one of our live-in-person IT Camps:

And finally, here are the related download links and useful resources:

“Hey Kevin – I noticed that the MDT comes in x86 and x64 versions.  Which should I get?”

It depends only upon the hardware and OS that it’s going to be  installed on.  If you’re running 64-bit Windows, then get the x64 version.  Either of them can support both 16-bit (x86) and 32-bit (x64) operating system image deployments.

Was this useful?  Have any questions?  Please enter them in the comments.

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