Recomendations based on my knowledge and experience with OS Deployment with XP, Vista and Windows 7.
First thing first
Some word of advice regarding OS deployment solutions
- Keep it simple
- Have in mind that the solution should live at least 2 years with the minimum need of maintenance. I don't like static scripts.
- Make a dynamic solution.
- Test test test, and test again when you make a change ie Task Sequence, Package, Query, Program, etc..
- Dont test with the production Task Sequence, have a Test TS and copy the changes when its working the way you want it to.
Makes the SCCM Client package bigger, complicates thing a bit, hotfixes are unique for the different ICPs, and happens to be produced at a later point of time.
How to build and Image?
- Use a virtual machine as referance machine when building the Image. Hyper-V, VMWare, etc..
- To have it most dynamic in the long run, dont install anything to the Image. Only Updates. Dont add it to any domain.
- 32bit or 64bit, the question many ask themselves. Well most of us start with 64bit OS because thats preferable the best, most secure, and benefits the memory over 3,5GB witch mostly new machines have today. But unfortunatly many have to use 32bit, because of lack of memory and applications/printers dosnt handle the 64bit very well. 98% does, but if one business critical application wont run, and options like XPmode, virtualization, terminal server etc.. is not an option, well them you have to run 32bit. Most deployment solutions end up running both. Even though, I recommend starting of heading for 64bit, in time there will not be any 32bit on clients, like we see in Server world now.
Office 32bit or 64bit?
- Go 32bit, there is still to much hassle with third party addons and compability issues. And there is not much to gain by the 64bit. To few of us use several gigs of spreadsheets.
- But if you run a clean Office or run a comprehensive testing of all products involved with Office. Then sure, 64bit is very nice. I run it.
- Use a hybride model, with consist of basically using seperate dedicated Driver Packages per model. This works 100% all the time and will have no conflicts or extensive testing each time you add a driver like pnp auto apply. (The auto apply is the fastest to get running, but is is kaos and will soner or later fail.)
- With Dell Client Deployment Pack it is very easy downloading Driver Packages and use them in the Task Sequence. They even have WinPE drivers that you download extract, import and inject to you Boot images. covers all the Dell models with boot drivers. Nice!
- For other models like HP, Lenovo... you have to download, extract and create at Driver Package of it. A bit more work, but will pay of in the loong run. (remember do no import.)
- Drivers that are actually combination of drivers and an application, like fingerprint, some video graphics, etc have to be installed in the Task Sequence as Software with silent switches.
What about User data on the clients.
Use Microsoft User Migration Toolkit with Hardlink.
Very fast, saves all the users data like documents, favorites, etc.. what you specify. Them removes the old OS, and add new Image. Like from XP to Win7.