Windows 8.1 Deployment: From the ground up

There has been a lot of talk about the end of Windows XP, the end of support for XP that is…image

As I write this post there is only a few days left for Windows XP support.

What is end of support?

(the following is taken word for word from here)

After 12 years, support for Windows XP will end on April 8, 2014. There will be no more security updates or technical support for the Windows XP operating system. It is very important that customers and partners migrate to a modern operating system such as Windows 8.1. Customers moving to a modern operating system will benefit from dramatically enhanced security, broad device choice for a mobile workforce, higher user productivity, and a lower total cost of ownership through improved management capabilities.

There are a lot of enterprises that have already migrated, and a lot of enterprises that just started or are still considering/evaluating a migration.  If you are among the one who have not started.  I’m putting together another “From the Ground Up” series for you.

In this one we will look at migrating an environment from Windows XP to Windows 8.1. Get the OS out there.  If you need more information we, in partnership with our friends in the US, have started a series of their own Blog Series: Windows 8.1 for Business.  Our goal is:

To help dispel some myths and provide some useful resources for you as you evaluate (and hopefully choose) Windows 8.1 as your business desktop/laptop/tablet/phablet platform of choice.”

Personally, I’ve been doing deployment gigs for years as a Microsoft Gold Partner. Over the years I realized something great.. The tools change, they get better, easier…  But the process never changes. so once you’re comfortable with what you need to do, howyou get it done will get easier….


Get a Clear picture of your environment. What OS do you have in place, what hardware in place.  Does it meet your minimum requirements.  What applications do you have deployed.  In this phase you also need to define the Group Policy model and the level of control you will exercise over your environment.

Design, build, test and deploy the new OS image to the target machines.  This includes deciding between light touch deployment, zero touch deployments and hybrid deployments.

Update you image(s) regularly with any appropriate updates and hotfixes and rebuild your deployment points.  Review any issues and adjust the image with solutions

MOF wheel

Different people will have different, more complicated models, mine is pretty simple and straight forward.  And as I always say, “Best Practices” are guidelines not hard rules.  Do what makes sense for your environment.

The topics we will cover in this “from the Ground Up” series will be the following:


  • Setup our test environment
    • Build a test domain including
    • Build the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2013 workbench
    • Install and configure the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK)
    • Setup Windows Deployment Services
    • Install and configure Configuration Manager 2012 R2
    • decide “what” will be migrated in the case of a migration from XP or other Windows versions
  • Inventory our environment
    • Use the Windows ADK to identify hardware, software in our environment
    • Review Group Policy options and AD components
  • Build a base image
    • Import an OS image in the workbench
    • Import standard applications
    • Import Packages and updates
    • Build and adapt the Task Sequence for the deployment.
    • Generate the image for deployment
  • Deploy the image
    • Deploy using WDS
    • Migrate from an XP machine


In the mean time download your free Evaluation copy of Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, Windows 8.1 Enterprise, MDT 2013 and Windows ADKto get prepared. 

Also, I encourage you to take the following Microsoft Virtual Academy modules.  They are great.

Keep coming back and we’ll get through it.



Pierre Roman | Technology Evangelist
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