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Kevin Remde's IT Pro WebLog

Just Released: Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 RC

I received an e-mail late last night informing me of the release of a new RC (Release Candidate) for the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012

MDT 2012?  Does that mean…”

Yes.  This version is being built to support the latest-and-greatest solutions and technologies that are on the near-horizon and coming soon, such as Windows 8 and System Center 2012.

Here is the text from that e-mail, describing the new features and functionality (with hyperlinks added by yours-truly):

Download page for the MDT 2012 RC on Microsoft ConnectSupport for Configuration Manager 2012 RC2: This update provides support for Configuration Manager 2012 RC2 releases. MDT 2012 fully leverages the capabilities provided by Configuration Manager 2012 for OS deployment. The latest version of MDT offers new User-Driven Installation components and extensibility for Configuration Manager 2007 and 2012. Users now also have the ability to migrate MDT 2012 task sequences from Configuration Manager 2007 to Configuration Manager 2012.

Customize deployment questions: For System Center Configuration Manager customers, MDT 2012 provides an improved, extensible wizard and designer for customizing deployment questions.

Ease Lite Touch installation: The Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolkit (DaRT) is now integrated with Lite Touch Installation, providing remote control and diagnostics. New monitoring capabilities are available to check on the status of currently running deployments. LTI now has an improved deployment wizard user experience. Enhanced partitioning support ensures that deployments work regardless of the current structure.

Secure Deployments: MDT 2012 offers integration with the Microsoft Security Compliance Manager (SCM) tool to ensure a secure Windows deployment from the start.

Reliability and flexibility: Existing MDT users will find more reliability and flexibility with the many small enhancements and bug fixes and a smooth and simple upgrade process.

Support for Windows 8: The RC1 release of MDT 2012 provides support for deploying Windows 8 Consumer Preview in a lab environment.

Key Benefits:

  • Full use of the capabilities provided by System Center 2012 Configuration Manager for OS deployment.
  • Improved Lite Touch user experience and functionality.
  • A smooth and simple upgrade process for all existing MDT users.

New Features:

For System Center Configuration Manager customers:

  • Support for Configuration Manager 2012 (while still supporting Configuration Manager 2007)
  • New User-Driven Installation components for Configuration Manager 2007 and Configuration Manager 2012
    • Extensible wizard and designer, additional integration with Configuration Manager to deliver a more customized OS experience, support for more imaging scenarios, and an enhanced end-user deployment experience
  • Ability to migrate MDT 2012 task sequences from Configuration Manager 2007 to Configuration Manager 2012

For Lite Touch Installation:

  • Integration with the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolkit (DaRT) for remote control and diagnostics
  • New monitoring capabilities to see the progress of currently running deployments
  • Support for deploying Windows to computers using UEFIAbility to deploy Windows 7 so that the computer will start from a new VHD file, "Deploy to VHD"
  • Improved deployment wizard user experience

For all customers:

  • Integration with configuration templates from the Security Compliance Manager Solution Accelerator, ensuring Windows is secure from the start
  • A simple mechanism for running Windows PowerShell scripts during a deployment, with task sequence environment and logging integration
  • Better partitioning support, creating the recommended partitioning structures on new computers and ensuring deployments work regardless of the current structure
  • A smooth and simple upgrade process for all existing MDT users
  • Many small enhancements and bug fixes

Good stuff, eh?

“What’s your favorite new feature?”

Well.. I confess I haven’t played with this tool yet, but from what I read here I’m pretty excited about being able to “Deploy to VHD” more easily.  Supporting a test lab, you learn to appreciate virtualization really quickly.  But there are only so many things that virtualization can do.  Being able to deploy a .VHD file to a physical machine in order to try new stuff right on the physical hardware, and easily dismantle it when I’m done, is going to be great.

“But what will this cost when it’s released, Kevin?”

The MDT is (and likely will always be) a Solution Accelerator from Microsoft.  That means it’s “Tested guidance and automated tools to help you plan, securely deploy, and manage new Microsoft technologies—easier, faster, and at less cost. All are freely available and fully-supported by Microsoft.”  So, it’s FREE.

So if you’re interested in evaluating it along with your Windows 8 and System Center, go to the Microsoft Connect Download Details page, download it, evaluate it, and give the team that built it some useful feedback.  They can’t make it better unless you tell them how to make it better.

Have you been using the current MDT for your Windows 7