Peter Egerton is a Microsoft System Center Consultant for Inframon Ltd. He travels the UK designing, implementing, supporting and training on the Microsoft System Center product range. I’ve been an IT Pro for 14 years and in my spare time I am a Community Leader for the Windows Management User Group (WMUG).
So as an avid follower of the Microsoft TechNet UK blogs, I’m sure by now you have heard all the hype about Windows 10, the great new features and what it can do for your business. I expect some of you have probably even spun up a virtual machine or test device to put it through its paces to see how it fares in your business environment. I’m quite familiar in the ways of the IT Pro where we get the latest and greatest technology for “testing” and that’s all great but here’s the thing, how do you go about getting that out to your hundreds and thousands of users with minimal disruption to the business itself? Well of course the answer to that question is “it depends” as there are a number of options available for you. But fear not, this is a good thing as not every business is the same, so not every solution is the same, and it’s just a matter of picking the right tool for the job and knowing where to begin. Here we will take a look at the options from Microsoft.
Windows Image and Configuration Designer (WICD)
WICD was introduced late 2014 and allows you to create a custom image or a provisioning package to apply to your out of the box Windows 10 build, thus creating something more akin to the traditional corporate build. The tool is generally appealing to OEMs or small to medium businesses who can apply their customisations to an off the shelf PC and get their users up and running in quick time, without the need for lots of supporting infrastructure or even high speed connections. You can then take the image or provisioning package on something as simple as a flash drive and easily apply to your existing build, whether that is Windows 10 Home, Pro or Enterprise.
Download it for free as part of the Windows 10 Assessment and Deployment Toolkit, there’s lots of other lovely stuff in there too by the way.
Install it and run the Designer. As you can see it’s quite simple to get started, with only a handful of options initially.
Create a New provisioning package or Image and away you go. You can now apply that to your device in one of a few simple ways which are outlined in the links below. This is a really quick and easy way to put your stamp on a vanilla Windows 10 build without 10’s of servers and weeks of training. Why not give it a try?
Anne Wong (Senior Program Manager at Microsoft) covered WICD at Windows Deployment Fest 2015 (awesome name BTW) back in January which is now up on Channel 9 for your viewing pleasure. This also covers how to determine if WICD is the right tool for you so definitely worth a watch.
Additionally, TechNet has everything you could need to know about getting started with WICD.
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit
If you have ever done any Microsoft Windows operating system deployment in the past, then I’m sure you will be familiar with the old faithful that is the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit – or MDT for short. Microsoft have updated MDT for Windows 10 deployment and you can access the new revised version here. It’s named MDT 2013 Update 1but make sure you get the build version 6.3.8298 as it contains some bug fixes in there which are important.
Download it for free
When compared to WICD this allows you to perform a higher volume of builds in a more standardised fashion, but again you don’t need a large supporting infrastructure or a vast amount of knowledge to get started. It’s a next, next, finish install and then you need to create a deployment share. This is essentially the location of all your builds and configuration data. First we need to start the Deployment Workbench:
Now right click on Deployment Shares and create a New Deployment Share.
Now run through the easy wizard; to get started you can simply leave the defaults if you like. This will create a folder and an administrative share in the location specified in the wizard (default: C:\DeploymentShare).
Once you have opened the Deployment Workbench you see your Deployment Share and it’s quite easy to add an Operating System, any drivers you may need and maybe a few applications. Once you have done this you should create a new task sequence which the machine will run through when building.
You can run through this straight forward wizard to get you started and that’s it, you have an enterprise grade build mechanism that costs you nothing. The good thing about MDT is that once you get going with it you can add levels of details and customisation as required and really tailor it to your needs.
For more information on MDT check TechNet.
Also, check out Johan Arwidmark’s (MVP) sessions on Channel 9.
If you need more than just a deployment tool for your Windows 10 devices, then System Center Configuration Manageris likely the tool you are looking for. Configuration Manager allows you to perform operating system builds in a very similar way to MDT (you can actually integrate the two), but has many other added features that can manage your client and server estate throughout its entire life cycle. Configuration Manager (often abbreviated to SCCM) has of course been updated to work seamlessly with Windows 10 in many different areas of the product, from operating system deployment to asset intelligence to updates.
As well as the traditional build, bare metal or refresh build scenarios one of the newer features of Configuration Manager is to support the in-place upgrade that has become quite synonymous with Windows 10. It’s a much simpler method for upgrading your existing Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 devices to Windows 10 whilst having the option to retain your applications and most importantly your data. Microsoft have released a sample task sequence to get you started on your in place upgrades straight from Configuration Manager 2012 R2.
Configuration Manager vNext (due Q4 2015) will also include built in functionality to perform an in place upgrade, you can download and try this in Technical Preview 3 with some other great features right now.
For more details on how to upgrade to Windows 10 with Configuration Manager see the TechNet library.
You can also find out more information from the Configuration Manager product group on the TechNet Blog.
Finally if you want a deep dive into upgrading to Windows 10 then check out this session from Aziz El Ouaqid and Sunil Gottumukkala at Ignite this year on Channel 9.
Enterprise Mobility Suite
Now we have looked at the traditional methods for client deployment into your business but we haven’t yet covered the modern way of managing your Windows 10 devices with Enterprise Mobility Suite, or EMS for short. Particularly for those organisations who want to use a BYOD or CYOD policy for their devices, EMS will allow you to manage Windows 10 devices in your business through Microsoft Intune, whilst also offering data protection with RMS and a host of other features available through the use of Azure Active Directory Premium. You can even join your Windows 10 device to an Azure Active Directory and manage it completely from the cloud if you prefer not to have any on–premises infrastructure and the all the associated costs and complications that can come with that.
To enable domain join you need to enter your Azure subscription and allow this through Active Directory > [Your Domain] > Configure and then change the “Users may join devices to Azure AD” setting as required.
Once you have done this you can domain join your device to Windows Azure AD by navigating to Start > Settings > About > Join Azure AD
You will then be prompted for your Azure AD credentials and will then be joined to your Azure Active Directory. This is a really good way to get Windows 10 out to your users with minimal IT effort and minimal cost to IT budget; there is little to no infrastructure requirements on premises. The process is also quite simple and the benefits are plentiful.
To find out more about the features available to you with Azure AD domain join and how to enable this fully check out a recent article on the TechNet Blog.
As you can see you have several options available to get Windows 10 out into your business whatever your organisational size, shape or requirement. If you want to find out more about getting started with Windows 10 for IT Professionals see this appropriately named Microsoft Virtual Academy Course.