Posted By Jeff Wettlaufer
Sr. Technical Product Marketing Manager
With the release of Windows Embedded 8.1 and our alignment to the Windows code base, a significant amount of new capability and tools are now available. In a recent blog, we talked about management for Windows Embedded; in this post, we’ll focus on deployment.
In the past, deployment for Windows Embedded products was, well, different. There were different tools, processes and procedures for standing up a master image of Windows Embedded. With 8.1, organizations can now use tools like the Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows 8.1, Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2013 and System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager.
What is the ADK?
The Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) is a collection of tools that you can use to customize, assess and deploy Windows operating systems to new computers. Windows deployment is for OEMs and IT professionals who customize and automate the large-scale installation of Windows, such as on a factory floor or across an organization. The Windows ADK supports this work with the deployment tools that were previously released as part of the OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK) and the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK), and includes the Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE), Deployment Imaging, Servicing and Management (DISM) tools and Windows System Image Manager.
The ADK deployment tools enable you to customize, manage and deploy Windows images, including Windows Embedded Industry 8.1. 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 tools, DISM PowerShell cmdlets, DISM API, Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM), and OSCDIMG. For more information, see the deployment tools technical reference.
What is MDT 2013?
The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) can be used to accelerate and automate deployments of Windows Embedded 8 and 8.1, Windows 8 and 8.1, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 7, Office 2010, and Windows Server 2008 R2. The MDT is an MMC console experience that can be installed on either a Windows client or server, and provides the ability to organize OS images, apps, drivers, task sequences and even completely automated ISOs. MDT is modular, and enables the administrator to build, configure and deploy unique installations for both X86 and X64 systems.
Windows Embedded deployment
The release of Windows Embedded 8.1 aligns the platform with Windows 8.1 client OS, something that was previously not the case. With this alignment, new tools are available, such as those mentioned above. For years, MDT (formerly BDD, for those old-school deployment guys), as well as ConfigMgr, have been used by customers and partners to customize, build, deploy and service their corporate images. These tools are now available for the deployment of Windows Embedded Industry 8.1. Here are a few highlights:
Image management: Windows Embedded Industry 8.1 is now available in a consistent WIM format like any other Windows version. As a result, it can be imported, customized and deployed by either MDT or System Center.
In this image, the Windows Embedded Industry 8.1 images are shown once imported into MDT 2013.
In addition to managing the OS Images, these types of tools can also manage the drivers for the images. Within the console, there is a node to import and manage drivers. These drivers can then be associated with images in deployment.
Task sequences: One of the most important areas of deployment automation is the usage of task sequences. The Task Sequence Engine is a step-by-step process to stage and deploy an image. Within this, the steps to lay down and customize partitions, OS images, drivers, OS components and even apps can be chained together. This is extremely powerful.
For Windows Embedded, this is where the additional Windows Embedded features can be added to an OS deployment. Keyboard Filter, Gesture Filter, etc. can all be chained into the install to be available. In addition, PowerShell scripts can be chained to a later stage (with reboots to manage the registration of the new OS components) arriving at a locked-down Embedded install. The below screenshot represents the automation of the task sequence steps to add Embedded features to an OS install.
It’s important to test OS deployments before production usage. By using tools like System Center and MDT, new, high degrees of automation can be achieved, saving organizations time and cycles getting their deployments perfect. Find more information on the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit and System Center OS Deployment.