Author: Aaron Czechowski, Senior Program Manager
This post applies to customers using System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager, or customers using System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 that have installed the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows 8.1 on a standalone system in order to acquire the Windows PE 5.0 boot image or the USMT 6.3 package. (Do not install the Windows ADK for Windows 8.1 on System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 site servers.). If you are also using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) see this post.
We recommend all customers of System Center 2012 Configuration Manager upgrade to the latest ADK, but this upgrade is not required. You can continue to use an existing version of the Windows 8.1 ADK or the Windows 8.1 Update revision to service and deploy all Windows 8.1 (including Windows 8.1 Update), Windows 8, and Windows 7 images. If you do upgrade, you don’t have to uninstall the previous version first; running the ADK setup will update the existing components of the ADK installation.
After upgrading the ADK to the latest version, here are a few general items of note for Configuration Manager:
- There are some bug fixes to the User State Migration Tool (USMT) in this revision, so the USMT package should be updated.
- Your existing Windows PE 5.0 boot images do not need to be updated after upgrading the Windows ADK. Windows PE 5.0 can be used to deploy Windows 8.1 Update images.
- We recommend using the latest full installation source (also known as “slipstreamed” or “refresh” media) for Windows 8.1 Update from the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) as the starting point for your OS deployments. This media should be available on or about 14 April 2014.
- A Windows 8.1 Update OS image (refresh media or offline serviced) can be applied with the deployment tools natively present in Windows PE 5.0.
- Configuration Manager does not support the new WimBoot functionality at this time. We are investigating adding support for WimBoot to a future release.
Windows PE 5.1
The Windows ADK for Windows 8.1 Update still includes Windows PE 5.0 (including the Windows PE 5.0 optional components and language packs), the same as the previous versions of the Windows ADK for Windows 8.1. The Windows PE documentation references Windows PE 5.1 for supporting WimBoot deployments. (Remember, Configuration Manager does not yet support WimBoot.) Windows PE version 5.1 is not needed for Configuration Manager and can actually be problematic if you try to use it. Windows PE 5.0 can continue to be used to deploy Windows 8.1 Update. There is a documented process to upgrade Windows PE to version 5.1, but this should be considered incompatible with Configuration Manager at this time. Keep reading if you want more details about this, otherwise skip to the next section.
Why can’t Configuration Manager use Windows PE 5.1? The process to create Windows PE 5.1 requires injecting the Windows 8.1 Update package into the Windows PE image, and if it also includes optional components or language packs these must be done in a specific order. The process then requires using the DISM /Cleanup-Image option with the /ResetBase parameter to cleanup and optimize the image before unmounting the image and committing the changes. Configuration Manager doesn’t currently support this sort of process during boot image servicing.
OK, but we now support importing alternate versions of Windows PE, right? Yes, but the OS version of Windows PE 5.1 is still 6.3 (specifically 6.3.9600.17031 or similar version, compared to 6.3.9600.16384 for the Windows 8.1 General Availability version), which is the extent of our determination for in-console servicing. So, if you manually create a Windows PE 5.1 boot image and import it into Configuration Manager, you can still perform servicing operations on that boot image, including adding optional components. By servicing the boot image, or even just updating the boot image for any other reason, you introduce the need to rebuild the image from source files. Configuration Manager will inject the four Optional Components that it requires along with any additional modifications that you have requested. As mentioned above, because we have no ability to inject the Windows 8.1 Update package and cleanup the boot image, it will either be completely reverted back to Windows PE 5.0 or will be a Windows PE 5.1 boot image with older Windows PE 5.0 optional components, which is obviously problematic.
Windows 8.1 Update Servicing
As stated above, we recommend using the latest Windows 8.1 Update full media. If you need to service an existing Windows 8.1 image here are some tips:
- Windows 8.1 Update (KB2919355) requires a servicing stack update (KB2919442) to be installed as a prerequisite. This prerequisite update was released in March.
- Configuration Manager’s offline servicing functionality cannot guarantee the order in which updates are applied to an image. Process KB2919442 first and then rerun the offline servicing wizard to process KB2919355. (Note, this only applies to System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager; Windows 8.1 images cannot be serviced in-console with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1.)
- Alternatively, these updates can be manually applied to an image using DISM /Add-Package commands, ensuring the correct order is followed.
- If applying the updates online, for example during a build and capture task sequence, they should first be created as packages and programs. This allows them to be added to the task sequence as explicit steps for proper ordering.
- Be sure to fully test the outcome of these actions before deploying your serviced image to clients.
- Did I mention that we recommend using the Windows 8.1 Update refresh media?
If your images and deployments include language packs, be sure to consider the following:
- As is always the case, per existing documentation, always install language packs before installing updates.
- Review the Windows 8.1 Update documentation for language packs to learn about additional details regarding any additional processing that must occur when applying language packs.
We’ve been working closely with Windows engineering on streamlining this process as much as possible. I’m always interested in your feedback, or feel free to post your questions below, especially if there are Configuration Manager deployment scenarios not covered here.
— Aaron Czechowski, Sr. Program Manager
Configuration Manager Resources
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties and confers no rights.