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Introducing the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (part 1) - Going over documentation

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12/25/2011 6:18:01 PM
The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) is made up of both documentation and tools designed to help tie together several different utilities and scripts. These utilities and scripts are collected here in order to provide a cohesive end to end solution for deploying Windows systems.


Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2008 is available from Microsoft's Web site at www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=3bd8561f-77ac-4400-a0c1-fe871c461a89.

Until recently Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2008 was known as Business Desktop Deployment (BDD). The initial BDD 1.0 was released in November 2003. It focused on the deployment of Windows XP systems. Subsequent Versions 2.0 and 2.5 were released to provide increasingly enhanced guidance. Updated for Windows Vista and Office 2007, the BDD was renamed BDD 2007. When the BDD name was first abandoned it was often titled as Microsoft Deployment, but today, in yet another renaming, it is referred to as Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (or MDT) because it now supports the deployment of both desktop and server operating systems. Still, it is also sometimes referred to as the Microsoft Deployment Solution Accelerator, and some earlier references may actually call it BDD 2008. Confusing as this all may be, the main idea to take away is that when you see references to BDD, the acronym is simply referring to the latest version of the BDD, now known as Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT). Aside from yet another change in how it is identified, MDT contains a number of enhancements, including:

  • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 support

  • Lite Touch Installation support for Windows Server 2008

  • Several Lite Touch Installation enhancements including multicast support

Earlier releases of the BDD were broken up into two separate editions: Standard and Enterprise. This served to confuse things even more, so it was eventually abandoned. Now, it is one set of documentation and tools with three different paths that can be taken to deploy systems:

  • Zero Touch Installation (ZTI) uses Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (SCCM) or alternatively, its former incarnation, Systems Management Server 2003 (SMS) with the Operating System Deployment (OSD) Feature Pack to completely automate the deployment of Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2003 or 2008 as well as any needed applications.

  • Lite Touch Installation (LTI) requires a more hands-on approach (though interaction can be minimized with some effort) for the deployment of Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, as well as any needed applications.

So what is the third path? LTI can be accomplished with or without using SMS (depending upon your environment). Essentially, zero touch aims to provide complete automation, whereas Lite Touch is mostly automated, but requires a few key configuration details to be collected before the automated installation begins.

Zero Touch Installation requires Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (or the older Systems Management Server 2003), Windows Server 2003 with Windows Deployment Services (WDS), and Active Directory. In contrast, Lite Touch Installation requires only a local area network with one server. In both cases, it is MDT that pulls together the other tools required for a complete deployment solution.

Although many administrators will be using MDT to deploy the very latest operating systems such as Windows Vista (which is the focus here), it can be used to manage desktop migrations as far back as Windows 2000. Beyond new system deployment, MDT also provides functionality for migrating operating systems, such as moving from Windows 2000 to Windows XP with Service Pack 2.

7.1.1. Going over documentation

When you think of MDT, you probably think of the Deployment Workbench and tools, but the documentation and job aids provided can be a huge factor in your successful deployment of Windows Vista. MDT contains documentation for project management and technical guidance for administrators and project managers. Totaling over 1000 pages, the guides are broken down into several process segments (see Figure 1), and this section aims to highlight each of them. A thousand pages is a lot of reading, so you'll be happy to hear you need not read most of it. Some documents can be very helpful depending upon your situation, most others you will probably skip over. Determining which documents may be helpful can be enough of a challenge that you could be inclined to skip it completely. What we recommend is that you skim this list of resources and make note of those you feel would benefit you in your own environment. Taking advantage of these documents and job aids can mean both a more smooth and successful deployment and less work (writing) for you at the same time!

Figure 1. Browsing MDT Process documentation


Another helpful set of free deployment guidance is available through the Definitive Guide to Vista Migration by Ruest and Ruest. This guide takes a more direct approach to the structuring of deployment projects at about 250 pages in length. It also includes business case templates and other documentation tools. Go to www.realtime-nexus.com/dgvm.htm to download it.

Business Case for Microsoft Deployment Toolkit

With the idea that IT projects are expected to yield positive and measureable returns, it is common for organizations to develop a business case for approval before any project may begin. MDT provides a sample business case for its fictitious organization (Woodgrove Bank) to assist in the development of your own business case.

This consists of two documents:

  • Woodgrove Business Case.doc: This sample document follows many of the corporate and academic content standards often required. Although you may want to add or remove from the many elements of the sample document, having a full business case for MDT available as a starting point can be a timesaver. (38 pages)

  • Woodgrove Business Case.ppt: A PowerPoint presentation is also provided for the business case that helps walk viewers through the problem statement, proposed solution, financial analysis, and next steps. (14 pages)

Microsoft Deployment Project, Process & Team Guidance

The MDT solution provides fully developed processes for computer imaging, software and hardware inventory, application compatibility evaluation and remediation, application packaging and scripting, network inventory and analysis, and desktop computer deployment, including data migration. The processes provided here in MDT are based on real-world experience in actual deployments from small offices to enterprises of over 50,000 desktops.

Several documents and job aids are provided here including:

  • Planning Guide.doc: Taking up where the "Quick Start Guide" leaves off, this is a comprehensive document describing how to start, carry out, and complete an MDT project. It provides information on assembling the project team, and defines the vision, goals, scope, and project plans. (58 pages)

  • Preparing the Lab.doc: This guide contains information about how to set up a lab environment for the building phase of an MDT project. (14 pages)

  • Release Management Guide.doc: This guide provides procedures for achieving a managed secure rollout for a new operating system as well as the hardware, software, personnel, and processes that come along with such a deployment. (32 Pages)

  • Enterprise Learning Framework User Guide.doc: This guide covers the Enterprise Learning Framework (ELF) which is an online guidance tool for the development of user training and communication as it pertains to the deployment of Windows Vista and Office 2007 applications. (17 pages)

  • Woodgrove Enterprise IT Archetype.doc: This document provides a detailed description of a fictional enterprise organization intended to describe a representative IT organization. This sample describes the roles and responsibilities of each administrator in the organization and can be helpful in visualizing how your own project might be executed.(38 pages)

  • Functional Specification.doc: This job aid is a template that may be used to create your own Functional Specification document. By referring to the above Woodgrove Enterprise IT Archetype document, it provides an example of how such a specification may be drafted. (43 pages)

  • Deployment Plan.doc: The deployment plan is provided to serve as a high-level checklist of milestones and tasks with examples of deliverables. (39 pages)

  • Pilot Plan.doc: The pilot plan job aid is a template you may use to document your own pilot including what aspect of the deployment project will be delivered as pilot and details needed to successfully conduct a pilot. (26 pages)

  • Request for Change.doc: A request for change (RFC) collects change details as a critical step of a controlled change management process. This document provides a template from which you may base your own RFC form. (12 pages)

  • Risk Template Tool.xls: This spreadsheet helps to work through identifying possible risks, as well as analyzing, planning and costing those risks. See Figure 2. (6 worksheets)

    Figure 2. Reviewing the Microsoft Deployment Risk Template tool
  • Test Plan.doc: This job aid provides yet another template for your use. This one describes the strategy and approach used to plan, organize, and manage a project's testing activities. It identifies testing objectives, methodologies, tools, expected results, responsibilities, and resource requirements. (41 pages)

  • Test Specification.doc: This technical outline is a template for conducting the testing process. It defines the input, output, environment, and procedural guidelines at the deployment project level and for each test case. (33 pages)

  • Test Cases Workbook.xls: This spreadsheet provides actual test cases for LTI and ZTI covering type and scope complete with a description of each test, steps to conduct the tests, and the expected result for each. (More than 300 tests are included)

  • Training Plan.doc: Another template, this job aid identifies the needs and processes for training the people who will participate in creating the deployment project. This can cover a particular software package or development environment. It focuses on the project teams and does not address the training needs of users or support staff for ongoing operations. (28 page)

  • Vision Scope.doc: This last template helps you to create a document that represents the ideas and decisions developed during the Envisioning Phase, the goal of which is to achieve team and customer agreement on the desired solution and overall project direction. (30 pages)

Infrastructure Remediation

Understanding your network environment is important for a project such as the deployment of Windows Vista. To properly prepare for such a change, this step in the process helps you understand the status of your organization's environment, identify other sources of change that may affect the project, and perform risk mitigation approach to those changes.

With the idea that most organizations can avoid most networking problems by creating and maintaining adequate network documentation, the following documents and job aids are provided:

  • Infrastructure Remediation Feature Team Guide.doc: This comprehensive guide aims to help establish or improve existing network documentation which may then be maintained after the project is complete. This process does require an inventory collection and reporting tool such as SMS/CCM or the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT). (33 pages)

  • Communications Plan.doc: This document provides a template that may be used to describe how the project establishes a reliable means of ensuring visibility and cooperation by communication status and news about the project to its stakeholders. (8 pages)

  • Network and Workstation Hardware Upgrades List.xls: This simple spreadsheet is provided to assist in collecting an installation requirements list. It is used to record the device, manufacturer, and model of the system as well as the component that requires upgrading and a description of that item. (1 page)

  • Inventory Template.xls: Particularly if you do not have a robust inventory and reporting tool, this spreadsheet can help you to break down your collected data in an effort to more clearly standardize the client computer deployments. Inventory is broken up into unmanaged infrastructure, hardware, operating systems, applications, inventory, and audits. (7 worksheets)

  • Assessment Template.xls: This spreadsheet may be used to document your assessment of the network, active directory, servers, desktops, applications, etc. (over 75 worksheets)

  • Current State Assessment Template.doc: This template may be used to document a system in order to accelerate and standardize client computer deployments and upgrades. It divides the assessment into the areas of network environment, infrastructure, client environment, client computer deployment process, user state, and application compatibility. (21 pages)

Image Engineering

The Image Engineering process covers creating a build server, configuring supplementary applications, creating a computer installation boot CD, building initial reference computer images, and preparing the WDS server. There are four documents provided to support this process:

  • Image Engineering Feature Team Guide.doc: The imaging process consists of several phases such as planning, developing, and deploying. Aside from project management, this document also discusses technical topics such as the concept of thin, thick and hybrid images, a development checklist, and the handling of updates. (27 pages)

  • System Center Configuration Manager Imaging Guide.doc: This document extends the previous Feature Team Guide by covering the use of Systems Center Configuration Manager and its functions in the imaging project. (26 pages)

  • Workbench Imaging Guide.doc: This document offers a step-by-step extension of the Image Engineering Feature Team Guide, specific to creating LTI images in the Deployment Workbench. (42 pages)

  • Image Customization Guide.doc: This guide describes how to customize images by customizing the task sequence, writing scripts, customizing existing scripts, adding applications, and customizing actions. (33 pages)

Application Management

Inconsistency between client systems on your network can result in usability and support issues that may be mitigated by ensuring that applications are installed the same way on all systems. Aside from the obvious need to save time, automating installations is a key to ensuring systems are as similar as possible. The Application Management process offers guidance on how to mitigate application compatibility issues, automate installations, and manage requests for change in your environment. Once again, Feature Team Guides, reference materials, and job aids are provided to help smooth the process:

  • Application Management Feature Team Guide.doc: This guide provides guidance on the automation of application installations in order to achieve a more managed environment. Among other related topics, the guide discusses the creation of a project plan, analysis of application inventory, package creation and testing. (39 pages)

  • Application Compatibility Guide.doc: Particularly with Windows Vista, application compatibility is a key factor in the success of a deployment project. This document describes strategies for identifying potential problems, addressing those problems with a mitigation package, and then deploying those mitigation packages. (58 pages)

  • Application Packaging Guide.doc: This guide provides coverage of how to go about establishing automated installation routines for the customization and deployment of applications in your environment. It provides step-by-step instructions on use of the Deployment Workbench to automate the installation of applications for both LTI and ZTI deployment methods (with and without SMS/SCCM).(21 pages)

  • The 20 Commandments of Software Packaging.pdf: This document outlines 20 guidelines to follow when repackaging software. The paper is sponsored by Macrovision, but most all of the tips provided also translate well to competitive packaging solutions. (31 pages)

  • Macrovision Application Preparation Roadmap.pdf: This document includes a poster which aims to summarize the application preparation and deployment process. (1 page)

  • MSI Repackaging and Customization Best Practices Guide.pdf: This document provides best practices for the repackaging and customization of installations for those migrating legacy setups to MSI format. (12 ages)

  • Macrovision Brochure.pdf: You can find some tips on the importance of application preparation and an overview of the products offered to address these needs from Macrovision. (11 pages)

  • Application Knowledge Sheet.doc: This job aid provides a worksheet with several fields to help document an application and how it is to be managed in your environment. (1 page)

  • Client Build Requirements.doc: Again using the Woodgrove Bank Company as an example, this document provides policies, procedures, methodologies, and approaches instituted to support the desktop computer lifecycle. (33 pages)


The software division of Macrovision has been sold to a new company named Acresso, but the documents and titles had not yet been updated as of this writing. Find Acresso at www.acresso.com.


Although AdminStudio gets some good coverage here, there are a number of other solutions for migrating and creating Windows Installer setups of which you should be aware. For a comprehensive list of such solutions, visit www.appdeploy.com/techhomes/windowsinstaller.asp.


Identifying data files and settings and saving and restoring them is what the migration process is all about. Handling user data and settings properly make the migration experience much easier on users. Save users from spending hours looking for files and trying to get things back they way they like by automating the migration of as many files and settings as possible. The process is documented here in two guides covering the migration as a project and the technical documentation on the use of provided tools:

  • Migration Feature Team Guide.doc: This guide covers the decisions and concepts to be considered when migrating desktop configurations to a new Windows Vista. It addresses the issue of migration as a full project with step-by-step plans to smooth and successful execution. (22 pages)

  • User State Migration Guide.doc: For Microsoft Management, the User State Migration Tool (USMT) provides key functionality in the migration process and this guide provides documentation for the use of this tool. (20 pages)

Office Deployment

For many businesses, Microsoft office among the most used software. Office is a very large suite of tools and is treated by the MDT process as a core application (normally included within the desktop computer image for Vista). A guide and a large number of job aids are provided to assist in establishing a lab, identifying key issues, creating the deployment package, integrating the package with the core image, testing, and running a successful pilot:

  • Office Deployment Guide.doc: This guide covers each phase of an Office rollout. It is intended as a sub-guide to the Application Management Feature Team Guide which includes guidance on team structure and organization. (26 pages)

  • Office Assessment Template.xls: This job aid provides a template for use with the Office Deployment Guide with worksheets for all of the information that pertains to this project. (86 worksheets)

  • Office Budget Plan.xls: This job aid provides an Office System budget plan broken down into several line items with columns for projected budget and actual amount spent for each. (1 worksheet)

  • Office Communications Plan.doc: This document provides a template for describing how the project will be established and a reliable means of ensuring visibility and corporation by communicating status about the project to stakeholders. (15 pages)

  • Office Configuration Plan.doc: This configuration plan document is yet another template to help you document your project. It helps to document the features each user has access to, the default settings for your environment, and how to maintain Office throughout its lifecycle. (21 pages)

  • Office Current State Assessment Template.doc: This document offers a template to assessing your environment including the client, deployment process, SMS infrastructure, user state, and application compatibility. (16 pages)

  • Office Distribution Plan.doc: Yet another template, this document describes the strategy and approach used to plan, organize, and manage the project's distribution activities. (22 pages)

  • Office File Migration Plan.doc: This template is used to document the planning required in order to use all Office documents and solutions and provides insight into the overall configuration strategy. (16 pages)

  • Office Functional Specification.doc: This template is designed to document the exact and specific terms for what the team is building and deploying. (30 pages)

  • Office Hardware Upgrades List.xls: This spreadsheet offers a simple list of hardware upgrade items for tracking purposes including what kind of device, manufacturer, model, part number, cost, etc. (1 worksheet)

  • Office Inventory Template.doc: This template is provided in support of your deployment project to help standardize the corporate office automation suite across an organization by offering a place to record an inventory of unmanaged and managed computers, applications, and more. (15 pages)

  • Office Management Plan.doc: This template offers a basis for documenting the changes to user settings for a custom configuration of Office 2007 and the creation and/or enforcement of those settings. (19 pages)

  • Office Pilot Plan.doc: This template is provided to help document what aspect of the solution will be delivered in the pilot deployment and provides the details to successfully conduct the pilot. (20 pages)

  • Office Project Plan.mpp: This project plan written in Microsoft Office Project breaks out each of the necessary tasks and milestones with their dependencies and estimated durations for each. See Figure 3. (191 tasks)

  • Office Risk Template Tool.xls: This risk template tool breaks down possible risks, risk identification, risk analysis and prioritization, risk planning, and risk costing. (6 worksheets)

  • Office Test Plan.doc: The test plan document describes the strategy and approach used to plan, organize, and manage the project's testing activities, and this template serves to help detail this information for your own test plan. (32 pages)

  • Office Training Plan.doc: This template is for establishing a training plan which identifies the needs and processes for training the project team (it does not address training of end users or support staff). (22 pages)

  • Office Vision Scope.doc: This last Office template is designed to represent the ideas and decisions developed during the Envisioning Phase, designed to achieve team and customer agreement on the desired solution and project direction. (23 pages)

Figure 3. Updating the provided Migration Plan for Office deployment

Securing the Desktop

It is the goal of the security team to secure an organization's data. To ensure adequate security measures are in place it is necessary to analyze and determine existing security, identify vulnerabilities, and ensure security measures are current. The following job aids are provided to help you in this task:

  • Security Feature Team Guide.doc: This document provides information on the subject of security measures for client computers to be deployed with MDT and how to protect the deployment infrastructure from security threats. (35 pages)

  • Windows Vista Security Guide: This guide provides instructions and recommendations to help strengthen desktop and laptop security for those systems running Windows Vista in a domain with Active Directory in place.

Deployment Process

This section details the steps to streamline deployment and describes specific deployment steps to simplify the process. The process is broken up into four phases: Planning server placement, evaluating server and network capacity, installing the deployment tools, and deploying the desktops.

  • Deployment Feature Team Guide.doc: This guide serves as the MDT documentation for guidance through deployment tasks and checkpoints. (39 pages)

  • Preparing for LTI Tools.doc: This guide provides specific details on how to use MDT to deploy Windows and Office. It also covers how to run the automated deployment process to replace earlier versions of the operating system. (56 pages)

  • Preparing for Systems Management Server 2003.doc: This guide details how to deploy Windows XP and later using MDT much as the previous Preparing for LTI Tools document does, but with a process leveraging a SMS infrastructure. (56 pages)

  • Preparing for System Center Configuration Manager.doc: This guide offers detailed information on using Windows Deployment to deploy Windows and Office with MDT leveraging a Systems Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) infrastructure. (25 pages)

  • Deployment Customization Guide.doc: This guide takes the Image Engineering feature team through the process of using SMS or SCCM during the imaging process. It goes on to describe how to customize images using the task sequence and scripting. (76 pages)

  • Deployment Customization Desktop Samples.doc: This guide is designed to provide sample configuration settings for specific desktop deployment scenarios using MDT. (76 pages)

  • Toolkit Reference.doc: This large reference guide documents configuration settings that may be leveraged in the deployment process. The many properties, scripts, and more are all documented in this valuable reference guide. (266 pages)

  • Troubleshooting Reference.doc: This reference provides information on current known issues, possible workarounds, and brief troubleshooting guidance. (43 pages)

  • Volume Activation TechNet Center: This is a link to the online document entitled "Volume Activation 2.0 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008" which describes the options and operations of working with Volume Activation. (Online)

  • Volume Activation Download Center: This is a link to a downloadable document that documents the planning, deployment, and operations of Volume Activation 2.0 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 with an overview, planning guide, deployment guide, operations guide, and other resources and answers to frequently asked questions. (Multiple documents totaling 152 pages)

Operations Readiness

The operations feature team is responsible for the rollout of the solution through its hand off to IT staff. Critical to deployment success, this aspect of the deployment includes such tasks as analyzing and evaluating the management tools currently in use, assessing the current maturity of the operations environment, and preparing the operation staff for pilot. This section includes:

  • Operations Readiness Feature Team Guide.doc: This guide is intended to help you to prepare to hand off a completed deployment project to an in-place IT operations team. (32 pages)

  • Enterprise Learning Framework User Guide.doc: The Enterprise Learning Framework (ELF) is an online guidance tool that helps Microsoft customers develop user training and communications plans for the deployment of Windows Vista and Office. ELF is not intended for use directly by users, but for training, communication, and deployment managers. This guide provides step-by-step guidance on how to use the ELF tool. (17 pages)

Testing Process

An element of the Envisioning Phase, it is the objective of the testing process to have the decisions that the test team makes align with that of the overall project goals. The materials created by the Testing feature team should also be well integrated into the overall migration project.

To help facilitate this, Microsoft includes Test Feature Team Guide.doc. This guide is intended to guide a team through test tasks and checkpoints for the process of deploying Windows. (37 pages)

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