Automated Installation of Windows 7: Overview

Applies To: Windows 7



The Automated Installation method is for businesses with an information technology (IT) staff that sometimes use partners to help with technology adoption. We recommend this method if your business has 200–500 client computers, at least one location with more than 25 users, and managed networks based on Windows Server®, possibly in multiple locations.


The Automated Installation method is also known as Lite Touch Installation or LTI.

The Microsoft® Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010 is a Solution Accelerator available at no cost that you can use to deploy the Windows® 7 operating system. Based on the collective experience of Microsoft employees, partners, and customers, MDT 2010 contains many thousands of lines of code—code that provides a deployment framework so that you can focus on your business, not on programming.

The guidance in section is designed specifically for small and medium business that may not have prior experience with Windows deployment or do not have enterprise deployment infrastructure.

Watch the companion video tutorial for more information.

Also see the following related documents:

For a complete view of Windows 7 resources, articles, demos, and guidance, please visit the Springboard Series for Windows 7 on the Windows Client TechCenter.

For a downloadable version of this document, see the Automated Installation of Windows 7: Overview in the Microsoft Download Center (

About the Method

You can use MDT 2010 for the Automated Installation method. Using MDT 2010 requires no more infrastructure than you probably already have (a file server is the only infrastructure requirement). Using MDT 2010 for the Automated Installation method streamlines deployment and reduces support costs by providing a more consistent configuration with fewer support calls—all without requiring a significant investment in infrastructure.

Benefits of using MDT 2010 with the Automated Installation method include:

  • Fewer problems, because configurations are consistent across all client computers.

  • Easier deployment, because MDT 2010 handles application, device driver, and update installation.

  • Streamlined maintenance, because deploying applications, device drivers, and updates is easy.


MDT 2010 supports thin and thick imaging. Thin imaging refers to installing the Windows 7 image that Microsoft provides without customizing it (or installing a minimally customized image), and then using automation to install applications, device drivers, and updates on each client computer during deployment. Thick imaging refers to customizing an image with applications, device drivers, and updates before deploying it. Microsoft recommends using thin images, as doing so helps reduce maintenance time and costs. MDT 2010 makes using thin images with the Automated Installation method easy. In fact, this method advocates thin images.

Method Requirements

The following elements are required to use the Automated Installation method:

Deployment Process

The following table describes the high-level deployment process for using the Automated Installation method. The left column describes the step, and the right column contains links to detailed information about completing that step.

Step More Information

1. Assess your company’s readiness. Determine your company’s readiness for Windows 7 by using the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit.

Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit

2. Analyze application compatibility. Use the ACT to rank your applications, determine their compatibility status, and consolidate applications. The ACT can help you triage and remediate applications that have compatibility problems.

Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) Version 5.5

3. Prepare infrastructure for deployment. Prepare the infrastructure for MDT 2010 by creating a file server for the deployment share. Optionally, install and configure the Windows Deployment Services role in Windows Server 2008. Starting client computers by using Windows Deployment Services is the easiest way to start a network deployment.

4. Install MDT 2010 and required components. Install the Windows AIK and MDT 2010 on the file server along with additional components the server requires.

5. Create a deployment share. Create a deployment share, and stock it with operating systems, applications, device drivers, and updates.

Microsoft Deployment Workbench Imaging Guide

6. Build a task sequence that installs Windows 7. In MDT 2010, create and customize a task sequence for each configuration that you want to deploy. Task sequences have instructions for installing Windows 7.

Modifying Task Sequences

7. Create boot images. In MDT 2010, create media for connecting to the deployment share. This media includes Windows Preinstallation (Windows PE) images that you use to start client computers during deployment.

Preparing the Deployment Environment

8. Copy boot images to a portable storage device. Create a device to start the Windows PE image by preparing a bootable DVD or USB flash drive (UFD) with the images created by MDT 2010 when you created media for the deployment share. Optionally, add the Windows PE image to Windows Deployment Services to make starting the image quicker during deployment.

Walkthrough: Create a Bootable Windows PE RAM Disk

9. Deploy Windows 7 to each computer. Start each client computer by using the Windows PE image, and then follow the instructions to log on to the distribution share, choose a task sequence, and install Windows 7.

Running the Windows Deployment Wizard

9. Activate Windows 7. If your company does not use the Key Management Service (KMS), manually activate Windows 7 with Microsoft.

Windows Volume Activation

Method Limitations

The Automated Installation method doesn’t have any significant limitations for medium-sized businesses, although it does require limited interaction at the beginning of the installation. As your business grows, you can easily extend MDT 2010 to provide a nearly zero-touch experience by doing nothing more than configure a database and deploy the Windows Deployment Services role. Eliminating user interaction with the deployment process by automating application installation and operating system configuration helps reduce deployment and support costs.