Enhanced Imaging and File Delivery

Windows 7 streamlines and extends the tools that IT professionals use to engineer and deploy operating-system images. They have more options for building images and can service images throughout the operating-system lifecycle. The following sections describe the features in Windows 7 and related tools that improve the deployment experience for IT professionals. Those features and tools include:

  • Deployment Image Servicing and Management

  • Virtual Hard Disk Image Management and Deployment

  • Dynamic Driver Provisioning

  • Multicast Multiple Stream Transfer

Deployment Image Servicing and Management

The Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool provides 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). It also improves error reporting and troubleshooting support.

With DISM, IT professionals can mount and unmount system images, and they can update operating-system components with updates, security fixes, and optional components. They can add, enumerate, and remove third-party device drivers. They can add language packs and apply international settings. Importantly, they can easily maintain an inventory of offline images that includes drivers, packages, features, and software updates.

DISM supports using Windows Vista scripts against Windows 7 images by translating Package Manager commands to DISM commands. DISM can also manage Windows Vista images.

Virtual Hard Disk Image Management and Deployment

Virtual machine images, or virtual hard disks (VHDs), traditionally require separate management and deployment solutions from the native file-based Windows images (WIM). Windows 7 enables IT professionals to manage Windows 7–based VHD images using DISM and to deploy VHD files using Windows Deployment Services (WDS). IT professionals benefit from reduced network bandwidth consumption when performing automated network deployments.

IT professionals can also deploy VHD files like 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, IT professionals can reduce the size of their images and reduce the number of images they maintain. They don’t need to update images when they introduce new hardware into their environment.

By storing drivers centrally on deployment servers, separate from images, IT professional can install drivers dynamically or assign sets of drivers based on information contained in the BIOS. If they choose to install drivers dynamically, Windows 7 enumerates Plug and Play devices during installation. Then, it 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.

Multicast Multiple Stream Transfer

The Multiple Stream Transfer option in Windows 7 Multicast enables IT professionals 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 throttles the file transfer rate for other client computers. In standard Multicast mode without using Multiple Stream Transfer, IT professionals can now define minimum transfer performance thresholds to automatically remove slower computers from the multicast group.