Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit for Windows 8 Release Preview

With Windows 7, Microsoft release a bunch of individual tools and toolkits, each as individual downloads, to aid in our assessment, deployment, and application compatibility testing/reconciliation.  With Windows 8, Microsoft are continuing with the free support tools, but it appears that they will be released in a single kit called the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK).

The tools in the Windows ADK include:

Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT): The Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) helps IT Professionals understand potential application compatibility issues by identifying which applications are or are not compatible with the new versions of the Windows operating system. ACT helps to lower costs for application compatibility evaluation by providing an accurate inventory of the applications in your organization. ACT helps you to deploy Windows more quickly by helping to prioritize, test, and detect compatibility issues with your apps. By using ACT, you can become involved in the ACT Community and share your risk assessment with other ACT users. You can also test your web applications and web sites for compatibility with new releases of Internet Explorer. For more information, see Application Compatibility Toolkit.

Deployment Tools: Deployment tools enable you to customize, manage, and deploy Windows images. Deployment tools can be used to automate Windows deployments, removing the need for user interaction during Windows setup. Tools included with this feature are Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management (DISM) command line tool, DISM PowerShell cmdlets, DISM API, Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM), and OSCDIMG. For more information, see Deployment Tools.

User State Migration Tool (USMT): USMT is a scriptable command line tool that IT Professionals can use to migrate user data from a previous Windows installation to a new Windows installation. By using USMT, you can create a customized migration framework that copies the user data you select and excludes any data that does not need to be migrated. Tools included with the feature are ScanState, Loadstate, and USMTUtils command line tools. For more information, see User State Migration Tool.

Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT): The Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) enables IT professionals to automate and centrally manage the activation of Windows, Windows Server, Windows ThinPC, Windows POSReady 7, select add-on product keys, and Office for computers in their organization. VAMT can manage volume activation using retail keys (or single activation keys), multiple activation keys (MAKs), or Windows Key Management Service (KMS) keys. For more information, see Volume Activation Management Tool.

Windows Performance Toolkit (WPT): Windows Performance Toolkit includes tools to record system events and analyze performance data in a graphical user interface. Tools available in this toolkit include Windows Performance Recorder, Windows Performance Analyzer, and Xperf. For more information, see Windows Performance Toolkit.

Windows Assessment Toolkit: Tools to discover and run assessments on a single computer. Assessments are tasks that simulate user activity and examine the state of the computer. Assessments produce metrics for various aspects of the system, and provide recommendations for making improvements. For more information, see Windows Assessment Toolkit.
Windows Assessment Services: Tools to remotely manage settings, computers, images, and assessments in a lab environment where Windows Assessment Services is installed. This application can run on any computer with access to the server that is running Windows Assessment Services. For more information, see Windows Assessment Services.

Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE): Minimal operating system designed to prepare a computer for installation and servicing of Windows. For more information, see Windows PE Technical Reference.

If OS deployment is your thing or in your future then this kit and you are going to be close friends.

70-681 (Windows 7/Office 2010 Deployment) Exam Preparation

I’ve been asked several times during the last week about how to prepare for 70-681, the exam on deploying Windows 7 and Office 2010, so I thought it was worthy of a blog post.  The issue is that there is no guidance from Microsoft on how to prepare for it in terms of materials.  And that is because it pulls in information from all over the place.  Think about it; Windows 7 deployment can include:

  • MAP
  • ACT
  • WAIK/ImageX
  • WDS
  • MDT
  • ConfigMgr OSD/Zero Touch

That’s 6 different products.  By the way, we cover all that in Mastering Windows 7 Deployment.  And that’s just Windows.  This exam also covers Office 2010.  They typically go hand in hand, which is why the exam includes both topics.  And this certification will be mandatory from May 2012 for the Microsoft partner Desktop competency (new and renewing partners).

If you want blogs/websites to read for preparation then check out:

From time to time, Microsoft is known to run classes for partners on training.  Your registered partner contacts in your company should be getting email announcements from the local MSFT partner team with any such information.  These courses are usually anywhere from free to very economic.  This is just a starting point to get the attendees on the ladder.  A course cannot be a complete exam prep.  And folks like Rhonda Layfield (USA) and Johan Arwidmark (in Europe but also USA) are known to run their own deployment training classes which can be attended by the public (for a fee).

In the end, most of the OS deployment stuff centres on a few things like WinPE, WSIM, SysPrep, and drivers.  I did the Vista/O2007 exam and Office deployment questions asked about evaluation/migration stuff.  To be honest, nothing prepares you for this exam like doing a lot of work in a lab.  That’s where your MSDN/TechNet licensing and a virtualisation host come in really handy.  You can get a little prep work done also in the TechNet Labs for Windows 7.

Mastering Windows 7 Deployment is Published

I’ve just recived an email from Sybex to say that the third book that I’ve been involved with, Mastering Windows 7 Deployment, has just started shipping from their warehouse(s).  Right now, is still on preorder but that will likely change in the coming hours or days.  The Wiley (Sybex is part of the Wiley group) site is live right now.

Who contributed?  Me, Darril Gibson (trainer/consultant, also of Mastering Windows Server), Kenneth van Surksum (Dutch MVP and well known blogger), Rhonda Layfield (deployment MVP, author, speaker, trainer), not to mention deployment MVPs/gurus Johan Arwidmark and Mikael Nystrom.  It was quite a cast to work with!  Big thanks to anyone I worked with on the project, especially those in Sybex who worked on the project.

The book takes a very practical look at how to do a Windows 7 deployment project.  It starts out by doing the assessment using MAP.  From there, issues with application compatibility are dealt with.  You learn about WAIK, using WDS, MDT, user state transfer, and even how to do zero touch installations using System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (including R2/R3).  I’d buy it if I wasn’t one of the contributors 🙂

WAIK for Windows 7 SP1 is Released

Microsoft has released WAIK for Windows 7 SP1.  This new release supports:

  • Windows 7 Service Pack 1
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
  • Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 2
  • Windows Vista SP1
  • Windows Server 2008 family
  • Windows 7 family
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 family

“The Windows® Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) is a set of tools and documentation that support the configuration and deployment of Windows operating systems. By using Windows AIK, you can automate Windows installations, capture Windows images with ImageX, configure and modify images using Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management (DISM), create Windows PE images, and migrate user profiles and data with the User State Migration Tool (USMT). Windows AIK also includes the Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT), which enables IT professionals to automate and centrally manage the volume activation process using a Multiple Activation Key (MAK)”.

Sample Chapter: Mastering Windows 7 Deployment

Last year was pretty busy.  Not only did I write Mastering Hyper-V Deployment (with MVP Patrick Lownds helping), but that project was sandwiched by me writing a number of chapters for Mastering Windows 7 Deployment.  That Windows 7 book is due out somethime this month.

If you browse onto the Sybex website you can get a sneak peak into what the book is like.  There is a sample exceprt from the book, along with the TOC.

The book aims to cover all the essential steps in a Windows 7 deployment … from the assessment, solving application compatibility issues, understanding WAIK (and digging deeper), learnign about WDS for the first time (and digging deeper), more of that on MDT, and even doing zero touch deployments using Configuration Manager 2007.  A good team of people contributed on the book from all over the place … and the tech reviewers were some of the biggest names around (I wet myself with fear when I saw who they were).

Give it a look, and don’t be shy of placing an order if you like what you see 🙂

Passed 70-635 Exam

I sat and passed the 70-635 (MDT 2008) exam today.  I know it’s old; but it’s required for a some MS partner stuff and a more modern replacement hasn’t been announced as a requirements replacement.  The exam was particularly easy considering that I had done work with Vista, WAIK (Vista and Windows 7), WinPE, MDT 2010, WDS (2003 SP2, 2008, 2008 R2), and ConfigMgr 2007.  It also goes into some Office 2007 deployment stuff which is easy enough and some SMS 2003 stuff.  The answers to the SMS questions centred around SP3 and the OSD feature pack with everything else being similar to ConfigMgr.

What I did not like was how some of the questions are written as trick questions rather than as tests of knowledge or experience.  That’s quite unfair.  I didn’t bother commenting on the questions; I have my doubts about the comments being used and I had places to be and things to do.

Next up (once the Prometric site lets me book an exam from my voucher) is 70-401: System Center Configuration Manager, Configuring.

Webcast Recording: Deploying Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 R2

This morning I spoke at my first Microsoft Springboard STEP event.  The subject was “Deploying Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2” and featured WAIK/WSIM, Windows Deployment Services (WDS) and Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010.  We had a nice turn out and apart from my XP VM acting a bit funny at the end, all went well.  It was very much a demo, demo, demo session.

I recorded the webcast.  You can see the entire thing, unedited, right here.  It will be available for 365 days from now.  And here is the slide deck:

Thanks again to the folks at Microsoft Ireland for organising the venue and for helping to spread the word and thanks too to all who came along or tuned in live.

Webcast Recording: Deploying Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 R2

This morning I spoke at my first Microsoft Springboard STEP event.  The subject was “Deploying Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2” and featured WAIK/WSIM, Windows Deployment Services (WDS) and Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010.  We had a nice turn out and apart from my XP VM acting a bit funny at the end, all went well.  It was very much a demo, demo, demo session.

I recorded the webcast.  You can see the entire thing, unedited, right here.  It will be available for 365 days from now.

Thanks again to the folks at Microsoft Ireland for organising the venue and for helping to spread the word and thanks too to all who came along or tuned in live.

My Demo Environment For Next Friday

Here’s the demonstration setup I’ll be using for the deployment session I’m presenting on Friday.  I’ll be talking about Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 deployment.  The technologies covered are WAIK, WDS and MDT 2010.

The demo machine is a Dell Latitude 6500.  It normally boots Windows 7 but I have attached an eSATA 7.2K 250GB hard drive.  That gives me decent speed on external storage; it’s also storage you can install Windows on to.  I boot the laptop up from that drive.  On there is Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V enabled.

On the parent partition is VMM 2008 R2 which I use to deploy new machines from templates stored in the library.  I’ve also installed Office 2007 so I can run PowerPoint and Office LiveMeeting 2007 so I can run the webcast.  I run LiveMeeting with the entire desktop shared and use a Polycom room microphone to pick up sound.  If I’m at a podium then I like to get up and walk a little bit.  I’ll also be using my laser pointer/clicker; it’s a decent sized thing – I don’t like little fiddly clickers.

There’s 5 demo VM’s configured.  I have a domain controller running W2008 R2 with AD, DNS and DHCP enabled and configured.  There is a deployment server running W2008 R2 with WDS enabled configured.  I’ve also installed WAIK and MDT 2010, both partially configured.  Some of the demos take too long for the session so I have some stuff pre-done.  There’s an XP SP3 VM, a blank VM and a Windows 7 VM.  The blank VM will be used to show the 3 types of deployment that I’ll be demonstrating, maybe even 4 given the time.  The Windows 7 VM is there in case I have time to demonstrate capturing an image.

All VM’s have a snapshot of their demo ready state.  I’ve defragged the disk to make the most of its speed.  When I run the session I’ll be sharing the entire desktop and expanding each VM to full screen (it appears like an RDP session).  This is because I’ll be plugged into a projector with a 1024*768 resolution and I need to be aware that viewers of the webcast will not be able to deal with huge resolutions.  I’m not RDP’ing into VM’s because a lot of the time I’m working with machines when there is no RDP available, e.g. BIOS, setup, etc.

And here’s a little something for Technorati: ZYRDJGJYCDG8