Desktop Deployment Tools – one stop shopping

Each week for the next couple of months, my team will demonstrate a variety of tools that make operating system and application deployment easier.  The demos of course show off how to deploy Windows Vista and Office 2007.  However, you can also use the new tools to deploy Windows XP and Office 2003 if needed.  If you have not looked at the tools yet, you should spend some time getting familiar with them.

I would recommend starting with the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) first because it will be core learning that can be leveraged across all of the other tools.  I have the download link for the WAIK below.  Next, I would look at the BDD tools referenced below because it simplifies many of the steps in a deployment process.  You have some work cut out for you, but understanding the mechanics of the new tools will pay dividends for years to come.


Where To Start

First, you should probably bookmark  It's the de facto area for the whitepapers, guides and tools.  If you are specifically interested in Windows Vista, then another good area is  Dig the kewl blue color.  Some of the information there is a bit dated in my opinion, but things will get updated over the next few months.

You'll notice a heavy focus from Microsoft on the new business deployment tools.  Along with this focus is a heavy emphasis on looking at the roles and responsibilities in a deployment project.  To support those projects, we have created a Solution Accelerator called the Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) toolset.


Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) 2007

The main BDD areas is at

This Solution Accelerator provides "proven" tools and practices that enable IT professionals to:

  • Create a software and hardware inventory to assist in deployment planning.
  • Test applications for compatibility and mitigate the compatibility issues discovered during the process.
  • Set up an initial lab environment with deployment and imaging servers.
  • Customize and package applications.
  • Automate desktop image creation and deployment.
  • Ensure that the desktop is hardened to improve security within the environment.
  • Manage processes and technologies to produce a comprehensive and integrated deployment.

The Solution Accelerator for BDD contains guidance, sample templates, and technology files (such as scripts and configuration files). It presents deployment guidance as feature team guides that thoroughly explain each deployment process.

I put quotes around the word proven because as you know, this will really get proven by you in the field.  We have of course tested the tools in a variety of environments along with our TAP customers and Partners, but if anyone can break things, you can.  Right?  🙂

You can download the BDD directly at  I thought it was interesting you must subscribe to the TechNet Flash to get it.  Don't worry, you can always go to the profile center later and turn that off, but it's a very worthy newsletter so you might want to try it for a few months first.

Be sure to pay attention to all of the prereqs so you can grab all of the goodies needed prior to starting.  I'm probably going to build a DVD that includes everything then add it to my DVD portfolio.


Windows Deployment Services (WDS) for Windows Server 2003

One of the tools we show in the demos is Windows Deployment Services (WDS).  WDS is an update to Remote Installation Services (RIS). Or more accurately, it's a replacement for RIS with the ability to handle the newest versions of Windows PE, Windows Vista and the WIM file format.

WDS provides the following benefits:

  • Reduces total cost of ownership (TCO) and complexity of deployments.
  • Deploys the Windows operating system to bare metal computers.
  • Supports mixed environments including Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Windows Server 2003.
  • Provides an end-to-end solution for deployment of Windows operating systems to client and server computers.
  • Built on standard Windows Server "Longhorn" setup technologies including Windows PE, WIM and Image Based Setup (IBS).

If you start to dig around, you'll notice this service is mostly discussed in the context of a Longhorn Server service but it does in fact install into Windows Server 2003.


First, you'll need to download and install the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) from  This download is in a .IMG format.  Don't ask me why.  I would have put it on the download center in .ISO format.  I used WinImage to extract the contents since I've had a license for it for years.

Next, you'll need to make sure you've installed the Windows Server 2003 RIS role.  After that, it's a matter of updating the RIS service.  You can run the update from the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) install DVD you created, (see screenshot) or you can install from the WDS directory on the DVD.  Be sure to print and read the WDS Step-by-Step Guide.  I gave you the online link but for printing purposes, you'll probably want the Word .doc on the DVD.  This guide discusses the modes WDS will run in, installation steps, boot image installation steps, etc.

I'll probably do a WDS Screencast very soon on all of the low level details of installation, configuration and use of this service. 

Comments (3)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Keith does a nice job of discussing how to migrate from RIS to WDS without having Server 2007 or Longhorn.

  2. mike says:

    Nice article.  I couldn’t agree more about the WAIK being in .IMG format.  I literally was dumbfounded and Googled in vain to try to find a single good reason they chose to use that format instead of the most common .ISO.  Not a huge deal as I was able to extrat its contents like yourself, but that just irritated me I guess.  Anyways, thanks for the info.  🙂

  3. Keith Combs says:

    What’s Googled?  Is that like a big eyed blank stare?  🙂

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