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Appendix A: Resources for Learning About Automated Installation and Deployment for Windows Vista

In This Appendix

Overview: Automated Installation and Deployment

Methods for Automating the Setup Process

Additional References

Overview: Automated Installation and Deployment

In the enterprise environment, it is often not cost-effective to install Microsoft Windows Server 2003 or Windows Vista using the standard interactive setup on each computer. To greatly lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) and ensure configuration uniformity, you can perform an automated installation of Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista on multiple computers. By using an automated installation method, you can ensure that certain features and applications are not available on your organization’s computers, or that certain features and applications are preconfigured in such a way that helps prevent unwanted communication over the Internet.

One of the tools that helps with the automated installation process is Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM). Windows SIM makes it easier to create and validate answer files for automated installation (an answer file is a customized script that answers setup questions automatically).

Methods for Automating the Setup Process

There are several options for automating the setup process. Any or all of the following tools can help ensure that all of your client computers are configured to appropriately limit communication over the Internet:

  • Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE)
    WinPE is a minimal version of the Windows operating system that can be used for running Windows Setup for Windows Vista. WinPE can also be used to create customized startup CDs for performing unattended setup. WinPE includes basic network functionality to connect to shared network resources for deployment.
  • Unattended setup using Setup.exe
    Unattended setup enables you to simplify the process of setting up the operating system on multiple computers. To run an unattended setup, you can create and use an answer file. Then run Setup.exe from the command line with the appropriate options for invoking unattended setup. For information about Windows SIM, a tool that makes it easier to create and validate answer files, see "Using Windows System Image Manager to Create Answer Files," later in this section.
    Using Setup.exe, you can upgrade your previous version of the operating system using all user settings from the previous installation, or you can perform a fresh installation using an answer file to provide Setup with your custom settings. The latter method is most likely the best option to limit the way features communicate over the Internet, provided you use an appropriate answer file. Sections in this white paper include answer file entries relevant to the features that are described.
  • Windows Deployment Services (WDS)
    With WDS, you can install the operating system by itself or a complete computer configuration, including desktop settings and applications. WDS installations apply Windows image files (.wim files) created with ImageX.exe.
  • Image-based installation using the System Preparation (Sysprep) tool
    Image-based installation is a good choice if you need to install an identical configuration on multiple computers. You typically use the Sysprep tool in conjunction with ImageX.exe or a non-Microsoft disk imaging tool to create the images to be deployed.
    For image-based installation, you install a master computer with the operating system and any applications that you want installed on all of the target computers. Then you run Sysprep to prepare the computer for imaging, and then run a disk imaging utility to capture the image. Sysprep prepares the hard disk on the master computer so that the disk imaging utility can create a generic image of the hard disk to be deployed to other computers.
    You can customize the images so that only the files required for a specific configuration appear on the image, such as additional Plug and Play drivers that might be needed on various systems. The image can also be copied to a CD or DVD and distributed to remote sites that have slow links.
  • System management software, such as Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS)
    This type of software assists with the many tasks that are involved when you apply automated procedures to multiple servers and client computers throughout your organization. These tasks include:
    • Selecting computers that have the hardware necessary for a given operating system and that you are ready to support
    • Distributing the operating system source files to all sites, including remote sites and sites without technical support staff
    • Monitoring the distribution to all sites
    • Providing the appropriate user rights for the upgrade
    • Automatically initiating the installation of software packages, with the possibility of having users control the timing
    • Resolving problems related to the distributions or installations
    • Reporting on the rate and success of deployment

Using system management software helps to further ensure that all computers within your organization have received the standardized operating system configuration that helps prevent unwanted communication over the Internet.

Using Windows System Image Manager to Create Answer Files

Windows SIM provides a graphical user interface with which you can create and validate answer files for unattended setup. Instead of typing information into an answer file, you can use the graphical interface to create an initial version of an answer file (based on a Windows image) and then modify the answer file, for example, by selecting components or specifying driver paths. For more information, see the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) User's Guide, listed in "Additional References."

Using Scripts for Configuring Computers

In addition to the automated installation methods described here, another common method of controlling the configuration of computers in a domain is to use scripts. For more information about scripts, see “Related Documentation and Links," later this section.

Additional References

You can find additional information about the topics described in this appendix on the following Web sites.

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