Desktop deployment is often thought of as the ugly step child of IT projects. It's much messier than server deployment. There's less control over what's really out there, more unknowns. Before coming to Microsoft, I made good use of all the free deployment tools that Microsoft made available to help make things a little less messy. In my early experiences of desktop deployment 3rd party tools were often needed to complement the Microsoft tools but over the years, the Microsoft development team has been putting out more sophisticated and comprehensive utilities. However, many IT shops aren't aware that these tools exist or don't make good use of them. The current tools are available to download (for free!) as the Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) kit and if you and your team are contemplating a desktop rollout, I would highly recommend you take them out for a spin.
In addition, we've just announced the Release Candidate (RC) 1 of the next iteration of these tools, with a new name - Microsoft Deployment. In this version, we've added integration with the following recently released Microsoft deployment technologies:
- System Center Configuration Manager 2007 Operating System Deployment
- Windows Automated Installation Kit
- Windows Deployment Services with new multicast technology
- Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0
- User State Migration Tool 3.0.1
- 2007 Office system
- Windows Server 2008 Server Manager for automated server role definition
Microsoft Deployment RC1 is available as an open beta download through the Microsoft Deployment Connection program on Microsoft Connect. If you are already registered for the program, click here. If you have not previously registered with Microsoft Connect, you might be required to register before you continue with the invitation process.