Testing Windows 8 Deployment Images

In large organizations, the preferred method for deploying Windows 8 involves creating a deployment image and then using that image to deploy Windows.

Using a deployment image could reduce the amount of work involved in deploying Windows 8 because it prevents Windows from having to be manually installed on each system. The use of an image also ensures that Windows is deployed in a consistent manner.

Of course the flip side to this is that if you make a mistake when you create the Windows 8 deployment image, then your mistake will be copied to each target machine that is set up using the image.

My first bit of advice would be to test the image before you use it to deploy any production machines. The testing process should confirm that the deployment image works and that Windows 8 is set up correctly on the test machine.

If you do discover a problem while you are evaluating one of your test deployments, then it is usually best to create a brand new deployment image. Don’t be tempted to fix the problem on the PC that was used to create the image and then building a new image off of that.

Building New Windows 8 Deployment Images with Minimal Effort

Obviously it is an inconvenience to completely rebuild desktop images from scratch every time that you want to make a change. Thankfully, Microsoft does provide a way to build new deployment images with minimal effort. This method involves a bit of work up front, but will save you a lot of time in the long run.

The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit is a free tool that you can use to build reference images. These reference images can be created in an automated manner. You can provide the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit with the operating system installation files, applications, drivers, and even patches, and then instruct the software to create a reference image using the components that you have provided. The reference image creation process installs Windows onto a physical or virtual PC (and also installs any applications, updates, etc. that you have provided), and then automatically runs Sysprep.

What really makes this process nice is its flexibility. One of the big problems with deployment images is that they become outdated fairly quickly. It seems that there are always new software versions, new drivers, or new applications that need to be included in a deployment image. The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit makes it easy to add new drivers, applications, or updates on an as-needed basis. After doing so, you can generate a deployment image without the hassles of manually installing Windows and running Sysprep. This not only decreases the time and effort that goes into building a deployment image, the approach also greatly reduces the chances of making a configuration error.

For more, read the Enterprise Efficiency article Best-Practices for Developing Windows 8 Deployment Images.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a contributor to EnterpriseEfficiency.com, a UBM Tech community.

Brien Posey
Brien Posey is a technology writer specializing in enterprise networking and Microsoft products.
Brien Posey
Brien Posey
Tags: Software,Technology