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Introducing the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (part 2) - Getting familiar with the tools of MDT

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12/25/2011 6:19:22 PM

2. Getting familiar with the tools of MDT

The documentation supports a process which leverages a number of free tools provided by Microsoft. In addition to some custom scripts, these individual solutions are brought together by MDT. Before delving into how to use these tools, a quick look at what tools are leveraged by MDT will be discussed in this section.

Knowing when to use Microsoft Management tools

It can be intimidating to see such a long list of tools, but there is no need to become an expert in any one of them to make good use of Microsoft Deployment. In Table 1, a quick breakdown of the tasks performed by MDT is provided to summarize how each of the tools fit in. Even if the end-to-end solution MDT aims to provide is too much for your environment, there is still plenty of value in picking out select documentation and tools as guidance in those areas of need.

Table 1. Tools Associated with Microsoft Management
Hardware and Software InventoryApplication Compatibility Analyzer, Microsoft SQL Server/Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, Microsoft Office Access
Application Compatibility Testing and RemediationApplication Compatibility Toolkit 5.0.2, Microsoft Virtual PC 2007
Core Application PackagingOffice Professional Edition 2007, the Microsoft Office Resource Kit
ImagingImageX, System Image Manager, Microsoft Windows Preinstallation Environment 2.0 (Windows PE 2.0), Sysprep, Deployment Workbench
Project ManagementMicrosoft Project 2007
Application PackagingThird party solution (Acresso AdminStudio, Altiris Wise Package Studio, ScriptLogic MSI Studio, InstallAware Studio, and so forth).
New Methods of ActivationVolume Activation 2.0
User Data and SettingsUser State Migration Tool 3.0.1
Deployment ProcessWindows PE 2.0, Sysprep, Windows Deployment Services, Microsoft Deployment Windows Deployment Wizard
EncryptionBitLocker™ drive encryption support for Lite Touch Install scenarios


Office products are not included free, but are necessary to leverage all the provided documents. However, you can use the free Office Viewers to work with all of the documentation (with the exception of Microsoft Project) in read-only mode. Naturally, thirdparty repackaging tools are also not included, but are often necessary.

The Deployment Workbench

Figure 1 shows the Deployment Workbench, which is the glue that aims to tie the many tools used by MDT together into a more cohesive deployment solution. This Microsoft Management Console snap-in provides a familiar tree-view for navigation to the various MDT components:

  • Information Center provides areas to access documentation, news, and updates for Microsoft Management.

  • Distribution Share facilitates the execution of tasks that need to be performed, including installation of required components, source files, and drivers.

  • Task Sequences allow the ordering of the tasks to be automated.

  • Deploy is where action is taken to manage deployment points and the deployment database.

Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0

The Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) provides a toolset for the identification and remediation of known compatibility issues. For those who do not have an asset management system in place, the reports generated by ACT can provide a very good start to establishing some much needed software inventory data. With the inventory data collected, you can then analyze the data and rectify the issues identified. See Figure 4.

The process of evaluating application compatibility challenges that may be faced in Windows Vista deployment should include the following steps:

  1. Collect information about your current applications.

  2. Prioritize the applications to test and support.

  3. Test the applications against your baseline workstation configuration.

  4. Mitigate issues (remediate, upgrade, migrate, remove).

Figure 4. Starting the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit

Microsoft User State Migration Tool 3.0.1

Version 3.0.1 of the Microsoft User State Migration Tool (USMT) is provided with MDT to support the migration of user accounts during deployments of Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Windows Vista operating systems. USMT captures user accounts (desktop settings, application settings, and user files) and then migrates them to a new Windows installation. USMT is intended exclusively for administrators who are performing automated deployments and want to handle user data migration. USMT enables you to do the following:

  • Configure the migration specifically for your environment. Files and settings are migrated based on xml-based rule files that control exactly how user accounts are to be migrated.

  • Automate migration using USMT command line tools. Two tools are provided, which control collecting and restoring the user files and settings.

Microsoft Windows Enterprise Learning Framework User Kit

The Enterprise Learning Framework (ELF) is a tool designed to help corporations develop a training and communication plan for employees during Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system deployment. It identifies the most relevant learning topics on Windows Online Help and Office Online for different stages of deployment and different types of users. ELF enables you to do the following:

  • Prepare employees for deployment and raise awareness of the new versions' benefits

  • Minimize disruption on deployment day by getting employees up to speed with a list of "must know" topics

  • Select productivity topics to help employees get the most from Windows Vista and the 2007 Office release after deployment

Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) User's Guide for Windows Vista

The Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) is designed to help you deploy Windows onto new hardware in an automated fashion. The Windows AIK is a set of deployment tools provided to support the automated deployment of Windows including:

  • Microsoft Windows Preinstallation Environment 2.0: The latest version of this MS-DOS replacement designed for the installation of Windows. Windows PE is a streamlined operating system designed to get a computer up and ready to begin installation as quickly as possible while supporting standard Windows Vista hardware drivers and security.

  • ImageX: This command line tool supports the creation, maintenance, and application of file-based images (WIM files).

  • Windows System Image Manager (SIM): Previously, you could use Setup Manager to generated unattended setup files. Today, SIM provides this functionality and more by allowing you to complete several tasks with unattended setup files. You can create a new unattended setup file, edit existing ones, and even verify the settings in an existing file. SIM can also show you the potential configuration options given a specific image of Windows Vista.

Standalone task sequencer

Also included in MDT is a standalone task sequencer derived from System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007. Provided as a key element of the Deployment Workbench, his task sequencer is used to control which events should occur and when during the installation of Windows Vista. In fact, even those that already have SCCM 2007 can benefit from this delivery of the task sequencer in that it provides extensions to task sequencing capabilities, three additional task sequence templates, and enhanced post-operating system installation provisioning tasks.

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