Tools for Deploying Windows 8

Paul Ferrill, CTO, Avionics Test and Analysis Corp | 11/23/2012 | 9 comments

Paul Ferrill
If you're embarking on a Windows 8 migration -- or even if you're in testing mode for the time being -- you'll want to download the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows 8.

This free download includes a number of tools and utilities worth exploring. For starters, the ADK for Windows 8 rolls up a number of previously released tools into a single package. These include Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management, Windows System Image Manager, Windows Preinstallation Environment.

A significant number of additional tools are included as well to help you customize your Windows images with the settings and applications tailored to your environment.

If you use custom deployment images now, you probably already know about the Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management (DISM) tools. These are absolutely essential for updating your Windows images with the latest patches and such. For managing Windows 7 images you should read this article on Technet. The Windows 8 version can be found here.

For unattended setup on new machines, you'll need to learn how to use the Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM). This would be the best way to do an unattended installation on machines where you don't have a pre-built image. In some cases you might need to use this method to make sure the proper drivers are loaded for each unique machine. It basically allows you to create an answer file, which you can edit to add any additional steps for your environment.

The Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) is basically a minimal operating system (OS) used for an initial boot to do things such as partition and format hard drives, copy disk images and launch Windows Setup from a network share. This tool is particularly useful for large distributed organizations looking to roll out OS upgrades without having a technician visit each individual machine. Many, if not most, modern systems will remotely boot into Windows PE as a BIOS option. Windows PE 4.0 is based on the Windows 8 operating system.

For the planning stages of deployment you'll find tools such as the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT). This tool is similar in functionality to the MAP Toolkit in that it uses an inventory collector to gather information about applications currently deployed in your organization. It will collect system, device, and software information from specifically targeted computers. The ACT information page on Technet describes the different types of systems you should target when using this tool.

When you get down to actually migrating users, you'll want to use the User State Migration Tool (USMT) to move individual users' information, such as application settings, bookmarks, and system preferences. The goal of this tool is to make the user transition as seamless as possible.

The big message here is you need to run these tools in a controlled setting to understand how they work in your environment. Now's the time for your IT teams to get started on your pilot projects if you want to stay ahead of the user demand.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
KeithGrinsted   Tools for Deploying Windows 8   11/27/2012 1:30:04 PM
Re: An Easy to Follow Preview
@ hospice_ you've hit upon another aspect here with the recycling of old screens!!

The amount of change required for full W8 implementation is going to be very wide-ranging and challenging for all especially those with eco-policies.

But it could spawn a whole new recycling sector.
vnewman   Tools for Deploying Windows 8   11/26/2012 11:13:05 PM
Re: An Easy to Follow Preview
Thanks for information on the tools Paul.  We are in the process of starting our migration planning and the ADK will be useful as we start our testing phase.
Hospice_Houngbo   Tools for Deploying Windows 8   11/26/2012 5:40:21 PM
Re: An Easy to Follow Preview

I have tried the preview, but as an IT technician, I think it is quite early for an adoption ona PC. I will wait to see what the user experience will be with a Windows 8 tablet PC.
Hospice_Houngbo   Tools for Deploying Windows 8   11/26/2012 5:36:24 PM
Re: An Easy to Follow Preview
Window 8 user interface is more suitable for touch screens rather than the tradition screens and most companies will need to get rid of their old monitors in order to take full advantage of Windows 8 user interface capability. Also, as end user, I don't feel confortable with all the change to the user interface, and I think most users feel the same. 
Hospice_Houngbo   Tools for Deploying Windows 8   11/26/2012 5:24:06 PM
Re: Who is going to use the tools?

I haven't made up my mind for a full Win8 deployment, but I think that installing it on a Virtual machine as a secondary OS on my systems, is the way to try the new OS without getting rid of my Win7 installations. 
Susan Nunziata   Tools for Deploying Windows 8   11/26/2012 1:46:14 PM
Re: An Easy to Follow Preview
@Rich: Thanks for sharing this, really valuable. While it's true that many enterprises are still in evaluation mode, it's never too soon for IT to start exploring these tools and getting familiar with what's going to be involved in migrating to Windows 8. This level of investigation will only help the enterprise make informed decisions about when and how deployment should take place.
KeithGrinsted   Tools for Deploying Windows 8   11/24/2012 6:14:38 PM
Who is going to use the tools?
There has been a lot of discussion in other forums about who will deploy W8 and when W8 will make it into the enterprise situation.

There are doubtless some great tools here waiting for the IT 'mechanic' to pick them up and put them to work.

However, it does seem that this is going to be a little while yet.  If people have difficulties then it will put others off too.

And how many people out there are qualified to handle these tools?
Salik   Tools for Deploying Windows 8   11/24/2012 12:32:51 PM
Re: Issues in Win 8 with drivers
@nimanthad Ahh! You can be a life saver. Can you tell me which notebook you installed Windows 8 to?
nimanthad   Tools for Deploying Windows 8   11/23/2012 10:14:24 PM
Issues in Win 8 with drivers
I have some serious issues with Win 8. I did install it but my notebook display and sound card drivers are not dected. I did search on the site but nothing available for windows 8 yet. This is pathetic. Have to roll back to windows 7 again :(

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