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Preinstallation Methods

There are many ways to install Windows. This section describes the three supported deployment methods: from a DVD, from an image, and from a configuration set.

Every manufacturing process has advantages and disadvantages. The right choice for you and your company depends on factors such as:

  • The number and type of computers that you plan to manufacture.
  • Whether your manufacturing model is build-to-plan, build-to-order, or a combination of these models.
  • How much you customize the operating system.
  • How much you automate your processes.
  • The quality checks that you perform on both hardware components and manufactured computers.
  • The existing infrastructure of your company.
  • Your company's growth rate and business goals.

Comparison of Deployment Methods

The following table summarizes and compares the basic methods, according to three features:

  • Speed: The time to manufacture and deliver
  • Volume: The number of manufactured computers
  • Customization: The amount of automated modifications made to the installed software

 

Method Description Speed Volume Customization

Installing from an image

Deploy an image of the master installation from a network share. You can customize the image on the factory floor if necessary.

Fast

High

High

Installing from a configuration set

Start destination computers from a bootable device—for example, floppy disk or Universal Flash Device (UFD)—and run Windows Setup from a network share.

Slow

Medium

High

Installing from a DVD

Run Windows Setup from the destination computer by using the Windows product DVD; manually customize, audit, and reseal the installation.

Slow

Low

Low

Deployment Methods

The following section describes the general process of each method. You can modify the methods to fit your business needs.

Installing from an Image

This method gives you the most flexibility in your manufacturing environment, and enables you to duplicate multiple computers quickly. By creating a base image, you can apply the image onto multiple computers with identical configuration. You can also customize the base image to meet the requirements of a specific order or a specific customer. This method is also known as build-to-plan (BTP) or build-to-order (BTO). The build-to-plan method is to deploy an image of the master installation without customizing the destination computers. The build-to-order method is to deploy an image of the master installation to the destination computers, which are started in Audit mode and customized to order.

When adjusted for your specific manufacturing environment, this method significantly decreases the time required to manufacture each computer. For example, if you give your customers a choice from a standardized range of applications, you can stage many or all of these applications in the master installation. In Audit mode (sysprep /audit), install the required applications and delete the remaining applications. This method is faster than installing each required application in the factory. For more information about using audit mode, see Customize Windows in Audit Mode.

Each time you build a computer by using this method, you start from a known, tested master installation. When the components change within your manufacturing environment, you need to test only those modifications on top of the known master installation, significantly reducing the testing time required for building and testing a completely new master installation.

This method provides the most comprehensive automated solution. By using various implementations of Unattend.xml, you can automate all or parts of the installation process. However, fully implementing an automated version of this method does require more preparation time. The following diagram depicts the process of an image-based deployment.

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The basic process of this method is:

  1. Build a master installation with as many customizations as necessary, where these customizations apply across an entire product line or all the computers that you manufacture. Thoroughly test this installation.
  2. If the installation is ready for deployment and delivery, shut down the operating system by using the System Preparation tool (Sysprep) and the sysprep /oobe /generalize /shutdown command. If you plan on customizing the installation before delivery, use sysprep /audit.
  3. Use ImageX to capture an image of the master installation, and then store the image on a distribution share specified by the Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM) tool.
  4. Assemble the hardware for the destination computer.
  5. Start the destination computer with the Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) tool.
  6. Configure the hard disk of the destination computer and duplicate the image of the master installation onto the hard disk.
  7. (Optional) If you ran the sysprep /audit command, customize the installation manually or automatically by using Unattend.xml. In this mode, you can add additional applications and configurations. Run the sysprep /oobe /generalize /shutdown command when you are done.
noteNote
This method requires that each destination computer have an installed network adapter.

OEMs who manufacture a large number of computers may automate some or all of this process, or build a customized version of Windows PE by using the tools provided with this kit.

You can modify this process to duplicate the master installation onto separate hard disks, and then later place those hard disks into fully assembled computers.

ImportantImportant
The default image file (Install.wim) included with the product DVD works only with Windows Setup (Setup.exe). Do not deploy this default image directly with ImageX.

Installing from a Configuration Set

If you build only a small number of computers and it is not cost effective for you to build and manage images of the operating system, use a configuration set installation method. In this case, the master computer is the destination computer.

This method is flexible and easy to maintain. It requires less time to set up any required infrastructure, but more time to build each computer. The following diagram depicts the process of a configuration set deployment.

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The basic process of this method is:

  1. Use Windows SIM to create a configuration set on a network share.
  2. Assemble the hardware for the destination computer.
  3. Start the destination computer by using Windows PE.
  4. Connect to the network and install the Windows operating system from the configuration set.
  5. To test or customize Windows, run the sysprep /audit command. Make your customizations in Audit mode.
  6. Run the sysprep /oobe /shutdown command and then deliver the computer to the customer.

Installing from a DVD

If you do not use a network or images in your manufacturing process, use the DVD boot method. The DVD boot method is completely manual, it is slower. However, for low-volume businesses this method enables a high degree of manual customization. This method is also used to build a master installation in image based deployments. The following diagram depicts the process of a DVD-boot deployment.

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The basic process of this method is:

  1. Create an answer file by using Windows SIM and store the answer file onto a removable media device (for example, a floppy disk or UFD). The answer file must be named Autounattend.xml.
  2. Insert removable media and the Windows product DVD into computer.
  3. Start the computer.
    Windows Setup will apply any settings specified in the answer file.
  4. When Windows Setup is finished, you can make any additional customizations and run tests.
  5. Run the sysprep /oobe /generalize /shutdown command and then deliver the computer to the customer.

See Also

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