Windows 8.1 deployment with SCCM 2012

I proceed to copy and past a very interesting Microsoft Article about Windows 8.1 deployment with SCCM 2012.

"Deployment Demystified: Deploying Windows 8.1 with Windows Server and System Center Configuration Manager
Matt Hester, Senior Technical Evangelist, Microsoft Corporation

Deploying Windows 8.1 has never been easier. There are so many great tools out there to help you scale out the deployment. However, what if you need repeat this process over and over for hundreds or maybe thousands of desktops? Well, that is where Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 come in to help! Whether you want to deploy to a physical machine or to a virtual machine, both Windows Server and System Center offer new and improved technologies to improve your ability to deploy Windows 8.1. In this article, I am going to take a look at some of the key terminology involved in successful deployments, as well as some of the deployment methodologies.

First, let’s learn some of the key terms and technologies involved:

Windows Imaging (WIM) File Format – This is truly the hidden gem of Microsoft deployment technologies. This is the file type that is used to deploy your Windows images. In fact if you look at your Windows 8.1 file, you find two files (install.wim and boot.wim) these files provide you the Windows 8.1 image for setup and deployment. When you perform mass deployments in your organizations with Microsoft technologies, you are essentially creating your own .wim files that cannot your company’s version of Windows. What makes this image so special is that it is hardware agnostic. Unlike previous tools I have used, you do not need to have multiple .wim files for the various types of hardware you have in your organization.
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) – This is one of the great FREE resources that has been around for years. Download the latest version, Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2013 for Windows 8.1 deployment.
Windows Deployment Services (WDS) - WDS has been a built in Windows Server since Windows Server 2003. It enables you to remotely deploy Windows operating systems, both desktops and server installations. It has some new and changed functionality in Windows Server 2012 R2 that you can learn about by reading What's New in Windows Deployment Services in Windows Server 2012 R2.
System Preparation (Sysprep) – This tool has also been around for years and is designed to take any already deployed Windows image and prepare it to be captured and applied to other PCs. It makes the system you run it on “generic”. It removes PC-specific information from the Windows image, including the PC’s security identifier (SID), and generalizes it. Learn more about this tool in Capture an Image for Deployment (Generalize).
Lite Touch deployment – Lite Touch deployment is a deployment methodology where the administrator has to perform some action on the systems to which you are deploying Windows Server. This may be as simple as starting a PXE boot, loading a DVD, or stepping through the installation wizard. This is sometimes referred to as a pull deployment.
Zero Touch deployment – This an automated deployment method where the administrator can essentially force the installation to the targeted systems. This is sometimes known as a push deployment.

So how do the pieces of the puzzle come together? The answer is my favorite answer of all time, “It depends.” You really have to decide what your goals for deployment are. Do you know how many systems you are looking to deploy? Is it 1 desktop or 10,000 desktops? And so on. With any deployment methodology, you basically take the custom WIM file that you created and deploy it using one of a variety of methods. Depending on what you are looking to do, there are three approaches you could take for your deployment project:

Create a centralized location for installation files
Lite Touch deployment
Zero Touch deployment

Centralized Installation Files
If you are looking to store your source files in just one location then this is exactly what WDS provides out of the box. All deployment methods involve centralized installation files; however, with no customization in WDS, in a sense you are just putting the Windows 8.1 DVD on a share.

Lite Touch Deployment
If you’re looking to have a little more customization in your deployments, Lite Touch deployment may be right for you. Maybe you want to configure Windows 8.1 in a predetermined way or maybe you want to install applications like Office 2013, or drivers, or language packages, the list goes on. This is where the marriage of WDS and MDT becomes a wonderful relationship for you and your deployment. As mentioned above, MDT allows you to make your own customized WIM images for deployment. It can also combine the various components (operating system, applications, and drivers) into one task sequence that makes it easy to deploy. It can then leverage WDS’ ability to use PXE boot (network boot), and deliver your components across your network. Lite Touch is not limited to just network deployment. MDT can create ISO images and, bootable USB files to truly provide a flexible delivery method for your clients. It is called Lite Touch because you will need to start the process of deployment from the client systems. What makes this nice is that all the tools for this deployment method are free. Want to learn about Lite Touch Deployment? See Windows 8 Deployment Strategies: Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment.

Zero Touch Deployment
Lastly, if you want to take both deployment and management to the next level, you will want to use System Center 2012. This deployment option provides you with fully automated deployment without any interaction from you as the administrator. However, unlike the previous methods, it is not totally free. While it can leverage WDS, Sysprep, and MDT, Zero Touch deployment also leverages the power of System Center, specifically System Center Configuration Manager. This provides the most scalable method for deployment and while it can get very involved, it is extremely powerful. You can learn more about Zero Touch Deployment in Windows 8 Deployment Strategies: Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment.

As you can see, Windows 8.1 deployment options increase with Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2, both of which provide you with the flexibility to successfully deploy Windows 8.1 for your organization. If you have not had a chance to test Windows Server 2012 R2 or System Center 2012 R2, download the System Center 2012 R2 Evaluation and the Windows Server 2012 R2 Evaluation.

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Matt Hester Matt Hester is a skilled and experienced IT professional evangelist for Microsoft and has been involved in the IT pro community for over 15 years. He has presented at local and international events and has written articles for TechNet Magazine. Prior to joining Microsoft Matt was a highly successful Microsoft Certified Trainer for over eight years. Check out his latest insights on his blog.