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Appendix A: Resources for Learning About Automated Installation and Deployment for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2

Updated: December 16, 2009

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2

In this appendix

Overview: Automated installation and deployment methods in a managed environment

Methods for automating the setup process

Additional references

In a managed environment where one of the goals might be to limit communication with the Internet (as described in other sections of this document), it is often not cost-effective to install Windows® 7 and Windows Server® 2008 R2 by using the standard interactive setup on each computer. To greatly lower the total cost of ownership and ensure configuration uniformity, you can perform an automated installation of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 on multiple computers. By using an automated installation method, you can ensure that certain features and applications are not available on your organization’s servers, or that certain features and applications are preconfigured in a way that helps prevent unwanted communication over the Internet.

There are multiple options for automating the setup process. If you are working to configure your organization's computers to appropriately limit communication over the Internet, the following tools might be useful:

  • Unattended setup using Setup.exe

    An 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 (an answer file is a customized script that answers setup questions automatically). Then run Setup.exe from the command line with the appropriate options for invoking an unattended setup. For information about Windows System Image Manager (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.

    By using Setup.exe, you can upgrade your previous version of the operating system by 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 the best option to limit the way features communicate over the Internet, provided you use an appropriate answer file. Other sections of this document include answer file entries that are relevant to the features that are described.

  • Windows Deployment Services

    Windows Deployment Services is the updated and redesigned version of Remote Installation Services (RIS). With Windows Deployment Services, you can install operating system images (.wim files) over the network. You can install the operating system by itself, or you can install a complete computer configuration, including desktop settings and applications. Windows Deployment Services applies images that are created by the Windows Deployment Services Capture Wizard or by ImageX, which is included in the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK).

    For more information, see Windows Deployment Services on the Microsoft® Web site.



  • Image-based installation using the System Preparation (Sysprep) tool

    An image-based installation is a good choice if you need to install an identical configuration on multiple computers. You can use the Sysprep tool in conjunction with a disk-imaging tool to create the images to be deployed.

    For an 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 that are 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 Internet connections.

  • 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 that is 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 the person who uses the computer control the timing.

    • Resolving problems that are related to the distributions or installations.

    • Reporting the rate and success of deployment.

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

Windows SIM provides a graphical user interface with which you can create and validate answer files for an unattended setup. Instead of typing information into an answer file, you can use the graphical user interface to create an initial version of an answer file (based on a Windows image), and then modify the answer file. For example, you could select components or specify driver paths.

For more information, see Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) User's Guide.

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 the links in the following Additional references.

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