Automating Windows 7 Installations [6]

Following our prototype deployment of Windows 7, we now have five laptops in regular use with this OS, along with Office 2010, with few if any significant problems showing up. This includes switching one existing laptop running Vista to Windows 7. Office 2010 has a lot of improvements, especially in Outlook which has adopted the Ribbon for the first time. An example that applies across all the Office applications is the Print section of the Backstage view (File tab of the Ribbon) which has a whole lot of useful options that can be set without opening a separate dialog box. In addition to five laptops now running Office 2010 on top of Windows 7, we have one other running Office 2010 on XP, and there will be more of these as time goes on.

Meanwhile I am continuing MDT development in order to iron out a few issues, mainly in getting applications to deploy unattended successfully. It would be nice if HP could ship packages for their laptops that all install as part of a normal driver installation process (Windows plug and play driver detection) because it would be so simple to deploy these in a one step driver injection process. However that isn’t the case and the result is I have to try and work out how to make the installations work unattended. At the moment I am (hopefully) finishing off the deployment task sequence with testing on a Compaq 8510, but still using the 6730 drivers at the moment. MS today released the Update 1 to MDT 2010 in production form (rather than the Beta I tried earlier). I have installed this onto the VM that was already running the Update 1 Beta. For the moment I am continuing to use the MDT 2010 gold VM for deployment development and the Update 1 VM for capture tasks only.

The latest install was mostly successful except for one minor popup issue that has now been addressed, and a problem with the automated Lightscribe installer which still has to be checked out. This time around all the HP specific apps (except LS) were installed automatically without requiring user intervention. This was done by using unattended install batch files provided by HP in the standard installation files in some cases, in other cases by using extracted SP files rather than the SP executables themselves together with standard Installshield or Windows Installer command line switches. So it looks like this MDT deployment process is a pretty good plan for deploying a new OS with apps. I have also started using ImageX to back up laptops instead of Ghost. I use GImageX to simplify some parts, including mounting an image on my desktop computer to extract stuff from it. So in general it does look like MS’s deployment and imaging tools work well and are a good replacement for third party tools.