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Hi all —
Vista was a marketing bust as an XP upgrade alternative, but Windows 7 has proven a bit more appealing to Windows users. While moving to a new operating system usually offers some real benefits, it always brings at least one guaranteed pain in the neck: getting the new operating system onto users' machines without disturbing their data.
To that end, Microsoft has been steadily improving a free tool that can help do just that called the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT). MDT can be, however, a bit confusing to set up and use -- I know I'd given up on it a while back before I got this information -- but in this issue, deployment expert Rhonda Layfield shows us the way to replace XP with Windows with MDT. It's a valuable guide and I know you're going to find it useful ... but first, a word from our sponsor:
Migrating XP to Windows 7 While Maintaining User Settings and Data, With MDT 2010
Migrating your XP SP2 (and later) desktops to Windows 7 doesn’t need to be difficult or costly. Microsoft’s Deployment Toolkit 2010 (MDT 2010) does it all for you and at the right price free. MDT 2010 can even migrate XP machines while maintaining your users documents and settings like IE favorites and Outlook settings.
The steps in this article assume you have already installed the Windows Automated Installation Kit 2.0 (WAIK) and Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 (MDT 2010). The instructions for installation can be found on http://www.deploymentdr.com/subpage.html. The MDT snap-in we’ll do most of our work in is the Deployment Workbench -- you can find it by clicking Start / All Programs / Microsoft Deployment Toolkit / Deployment Workbench. You can easily pin the Deployment Workbench to your taskbar (if on a Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 OS) so it’s always close at hand.
In this article I’ll begin by showing you how to create a deployment share. The deployment share is where your target machines connect to deploy an OS image. Then, you’ll need to import an operating system (Windows 7) and create a Task Sequence. A task sequence determines which tasks are performed during your deployment and the order in which the tasks are performed (this will make more sense once you’ve seen a task sequence.
(Note from Mark: Rhonda kindly provided me with a Word document and I converted it to HTML, so any strangeness in the way the page presents -- converting Word docs to something that looks like normal HTML isn't always a picnic -- is my fault, not hers.)
Creating a Deployment Share
The deployment share is the network folder your target machines connect to during the deployment process, so be sure you have network connectivity and permissions to the deployment share folder. Create a deployment share within the Deployment Workbench by right-clicking the “Deployment Shares” node and choosing New Deployment share. The New Deployment Share Wizard opens to the “Path” page. Then follow these steps:
1. On the “Path” page click the Browse… button to navigate to where you would like to store your deployment share or type in a path. If you specify a folder that doesn’t exist MDT will create it for you. I recommend storing your deployment share on a drive other than your system drive. I changed the C:\ drive to F:\ and accepted the default folder name then clicked Next.
2. On the Share page provide the name you’d like the F:\DeploymentShare folder shared as. I’ve accepted the default shared folder name of DeploymentShare$ ($ indicates a hidden share, so this folder name won’t show up on browse lists). Accept the default or type a different share name and then click Next.
3. On the Descriptive Name page type in a description for the deployment share shared folder and click Next.
4. The Allow Image Capture page is configured (by default) to prompt you during deployment to capture an image of the target machine before you replace the OS. You’ll also have the option of storing the image locally or on a network share. This is handy if for some reason you need to roll back the target machine to the previous OS image. I like to accept the default setting, you can always answer No during deployment but it’s nice have the option. Make your selection and click Next.
5. The Allow Admin Password page is set to not ask users during deployment to set the local administrator password of the target machine. I like to leave this at the default and assign the local admin password in your task sequence which I’ll show you a later. Then click Next.
6. The Allow Product Key page allows you to choose whether you want to be prompted during the deployment process for a product key or not. Just as the local admin password can be included in a task sequence so can a product key. Accept the default setting and click Next.
7. The Summary page displays the selections you’ve made in the New Deployment Share Wizard. To make changes click the “Previous” button until you are on the page you’d like to change. Clicking Next on the Summary page kicks off the creation of the deployment share. The steps run to create a deployment share are displayed in the Progress page which appears quickly, disappears and advances you to the Confirmation page.
8. The Confirmation page has two new buttons: Save Output and View Script. Clicking the Save Output… button opens the Save As dialog box, browse to where you would like to store the file that contains the output (the output is exactly what you see on the confirmation page), give the document a name and click Save. The View Script button shows the Powershell commands that were run to create the deployment share. Click Finish to complete the creation of your deployment dhare.
Once the New Deployment Share Wizard has completed your new deployment share appears in the Deployment Workbench under the Deployment Shares node as shown below.
Expanding your new deployment share reveals six nodes: Applications, Operating Systems, Out-of-Box Drivers, Packages, Task Sequences and Advanced Configuration. We’ll begin in the Operating systems node.
Importing Operating Systems
Before you can deploy an operating system (OS) you’ll need to import one into the deployment workbench. The steps for importing an OS are the same whether you are importing XP SP3, Vista SP1, Windows 7, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2008, or Windows Server 2008 R2 (these OSs are all supported). To import an OS right-click the Operating Systems node and choose Import Operating System. The Import Operating System Wizard opens to the OS Type page, follow these steps:
1. On the OS Type page there are three selections:
Full set of source files - Files from the Windows 7 DVD or .iso file. Custom image file - .wim file you’ve created using ImageX or the MDT. Windows Deployment Service images - OS images stored on a WDS server, all the OS images from a WDS server you cannot pick and choose specific OS images to import. Select Full set of source files and click Next.
2. On the Sources page click the Browse… button and navigate to either the root of a Windows 7 DVD or a folder where you have copied the entire Windows 7 DVD.
3. On the Destination page type the name of the folder that will be created to store your Windows 7 source files. This folder will not appear in the deployment workbench. But you can find it by using Windows Explorer and navigating to F:\DeploymentShare\Operating Systems\. Type the name of the new folder and click Next.
The Summary page displays the details of the Import Operating System Wizard just as the “New Deployment share Wizard” did. Review your choices and click Next. The Progress page appears and when the OS is fully imported the Confirmation page appears. Importing OS images can take a while depending on the speed of your server and the size of the image file. Click Finish on the Confirmation page and your newly imported OS will be displayed in the deployment workbench under the Operating Systems node.
TIP - One of my favorite new features of MDT 2010 is the ability to organize my operating systems by creating folders and storing the OSs in separate folders as shown below. For example you could create a folder under the Operating Systems node by right-clicking Operating Systems and choosing New Folder. Give the folder a name (Win 7, or XP etc…) and click Next twice then click Finish. Moving OSs within the deployment workbench is a piece of cake just right-click the OS you’d like to move and choose Cut and then right-click in the new folder and choose Paste. You can also organize your applications, drivers, and packages by creating similar folder structures within those nodes.
Organizing your Deployment Workbench
You can import applications, drivers and patches in much the same way that you imported the OS although with different options.
Creating a task sequence
A task sequence contains a list of tasks that will be run during the deployment and the order in which they are run. To create a task sequence right-click the Task Sequences node under your deployment share and choose New Task Sequence. The New Task Sequence Wizard opens to the “General Settings” page.
1. On the General Settings page provide a Task sequence ID, Task sequence name and Comments. I’ve typed:
Task sequence ID = W7x64
Task Sequence name = Windows 7 64-bit
Task sequence comments = provides an easy way to quickly and easily document when and why you created the task sequence.
Then click Next.
2. On the Select Template page choose Standard Client Task Sequence from the drop down box and click Next.
3. On the Select OS page navigate to the edition of Windows 7 you want to migrate the XP machine to and then click Next.
4. On the Specify a product key page type in a product key if needed (Enterprise clients won’t need to worry about this) and click Next.
5. On the OS Settings page provide Full name, Organization and Internet Explorer Home Page (all required fields) then click Next.
6. On the Admin Password page type in a password that will be the target machines local administrator password, and then click Next.
The Summary page lets you review your settings, make changes by clicking the Previous button when everything looks good click Next. The Progress page appears and displays the steps being run to create the task sequence. When finished the Progress page disappears and the Confirmation page is displayed, click Finish.
Update the Deployment Share
Updating your deployment share is when things really start to happen. Updating your deployment share copies the tools needed by the MDT into your deployment share and custom MDT WinPEs are created: LiteTouchPE_x86.wim and LiteTouchPE_x64.wim. To update your deployment share from within the deployment workbench expand the Deployment Shares node. Then right-click your deployment share name and choose Update Deployment Share to launch the Update Deployment Share Wizard, then follow these steps:
1. The “Options” page presents two options: Optimize the boot image updating process and Completely regenerate the boot images. If this is the first time you have updated the deployment share either option will do the same thing. Accept the default Optimize the boot image updating process and click Next. On subsequent updates choosing Optimize the boot image updating process will modify the existing WinPEs. Choosing Completely regenerate the boot images will create new boot images (I use this one whenever I want to know for sure that there are no left over (from previous WinPEs) issues).
2. The Summary page is displayed, review your selections (make any changes) and click Next. The Progress page displays the steps performed to update your deployment share. When the deployment share is updated the Confirmation page appears, click Finish.
You’re ready to migrate your first XP machine to Windows 7. Remember the target machine needs networking functionality and the ability to physically connect to the MDT deployment server’s deployment share.