Can MDT 2010 Ease Windows 7 Migration Woes?


Microsoft has just made available the final release of Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 (MDT 2010). This is an upgrade to MDT 2008 that's got the potential to be a great tool in helping enterprises with Windows 7 deployment. You still won't be able to perform in-place upgrades with it, but it should ease the XP-to-Windows 7 migration process.

It's available as a free download from microsoft.com or from TechNet. MDT is Microsoft's utility to assist in automating desktop and server deployment. Version 2010, of course, supports the automated deployment of Windows 7, Server 2008 R2 as well as legacy Windows OS (yes, that also includes XP, which has not achieved legacy status yet).

You will need to set up some prerequisite components before using MDT 2010. No matter which OS you are deploying, you will need to have installed on the computer that MDT will reside on: Microsoft Management Console v 3.0, .Net framework 2.0 or later, Windows PowerShell v 1.0 or Community Technology Preview 3 or later, and Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) for Windows 7.

Once installed, MDT 2010 has "Deployment Workbench" as a menu item. Deployment Workbench is MDT 2010's interface and has the same look as utilities in Server 2008, such as Server Manager.

A handy feature --- within MDT 2010's interface is a "Components" icon. Opening this reveals the prerequisite components that may already be installed, are available for download and the components that are unavailable for download (listed are some updates for XP SP2 and Server 2003 SP1).

In the interface is a bold, green, easy-to-notice icon labeled "Getting Started." Clicking this reveals what could be viewed at first glance as a confusing flowchart of the steps needed in preparing an MDT infrastructure that is creating an environment for deployment.

This flowchart shows the deployment process as a sequence of 10 steps:

-- Importing the source files to be deployed, such as the Windows OS, OS patches and any applicable language packs, device drivers and applications, to the designated management computer;

-- Creating task sequence and boot image for the reference computer;

-- Updating the deployment share with source files, boot image and task sequence;

-- Transferring the source files, boot image and task sequence from the deployment share to the reference computer;

-- Running the deployment wizard on the reference computer and capturing the image;

-- Sending the captured image back to the management computer;

-- Creating the task sequence and boot image for the target computer;

-- Once again, updating the deployment share with boot image, source file and task sequence;

-- Transferring the source files, boot image and task sequence from the deployment share to the target computer(s);

-- Finally, running the deployment wizard on the target computer.

Sounds confusing, but it is actually a sequence of logical steps that can be a way to efficiently deploy Windows 7 in a large-scale environment.

The question is, does it work? If judged based on the previous version of MDT, it should work fine. However, we will be testing it out in the CRN Test Center, so stay tuned to see how our test Windows 7 deployment goes using MDT 2010.