There are many ways to deploy a Windows operating system. However, there are several common steps that you will go through in order to deploy Windows. The following process outlines a typical Windows deployment.
- Plan - Determine which deployment method best meets your business needs. Gather all the required resources, including hardware and software.
- Environment Setup - Build your deployment environment. Install Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM) onto a single computer designated as the technician computer. Build a lab environment to test your installation prior to deployment. By using Windows SIM, define your network shares and other environment settings.
- Customize - Create an answer file by using Windows SIM. Unattend.xml is a single file that replaces a number of previous Unattend.txt and .ini files. Oobe.xml enables you to customize Windows Welcome.
- Install and Test - Assemble the new computer, also known as a master installation. Apply the answer file and the Windows product DVD to the master installation. Test your new installation.
- Deploy - For high-volume deployments, capture and store an image of the new installation onto your distribution share. Deploy the image onto new computers and deliver the new computer to the customer. For low-volume deployments, apply the answer file and the Windows product DVD to each new computer and then deliver the new computer to the customer.
- Maintain - Modify the existing image by using Windows SIM to include drivers, service packs, and third-party applications.
OEM Manufacturing Process
In a high-volume manufacturing environment, it is common to create an image for each computer model that you will sell. You develop the image in a lab environment by using Windows SIM, store the images on a distribution share, assemble the new computers on the manufacturing floor, and then copy down the images by using a network. This process works well for build-to-plan (BTP) and build-to-order (BTO) business models where speed is a priority.
If you intend to transfer a Windows image to a different computer, you must run sysprep /generalize, even if the computer has the same hardware configuration. The sysprep /generalize command removes unique information from your Windows installation, which enables you to reuse that image on different computers. The next time you boot the Windows image, the specialize configuration pass runs. During this configuration pass, many components have actions that must be processed when you boot a Windows image on a new computer. Any method of moving a Windows image to a new computer, either through imaging, hard disk duplication, or other method, must be prepared with the sysprep /generalize command. Moving or copying a Windows image to a different computer without running sysprep /generalize is not supported.
The default image file (Install.wim) included with the Windows product DVD works only with Windows Setup (Setup.exe). Do not deploy this default image directly with ImageX.
In a low-volume manufacturing environment, the flexibility to quickly customize an installation that includes different kinds of hardware and software is more important. In this case, DVD-based installations or configuration set installations are the preferred methods.
You can also design your own deployment process by using parts of the previously listed methods. The tools are flexible enough to support many complex deployment scenarios. This guide will describe only the core methods. For a detailed discussion of the different methods, see Preinstallation Methods.
Corporate Deployment Process
Like OEM manufacturing environments, corporate deployments can also range from low to high volume. The previously described deployment methods are also applicable to this space. However, in a corporate environment, there are additional processes not present in an OEM environment. Corporate deployments must address upgrade and migration issues. This guide will provide some guidance on these issues, but will mainly focus on installing the new operating system onto new hardware. For more information about corporate deployment, see the Business Desktop Deployment Solution Accelerator.