Deploying Native Boot VHDs [6]

We have successfully completed our first ever mass deployment of computers using the Native Boot VHD technology of Windows 7. This article carries additional detail of the deployment phase of this project.

The average transfer rate for the 15 GB VHD over the network was around 45-55 MB per minute equating to around 4-5 hours to complete the copying. The machines then had to have several more scripts run to complete the initial setup. In future updating the machines will only require the VHD file to be replaced. After rebooting the Windows Setup Wizard will appear and ask you to provide some settings such as the computer name and a username. It automatically restarts the computer again and brings up first time login. After this the only remaining step is to join the domain, this may be automated in future.

Both of the main activation tasks, the Windows 7 and Office 2010 activations can be handled by setting up a KMS server. This has not yet been done but it is one of the next tasks, being quite straightforward, and relieves you of the need to manually activate, and in Office’s case enter the product key as well.

Although the copying stage of the VHD may seem slow it is roughly equivalent to Ghost without the network congestion that multicasting produces. My experience of simultaneously ghosting multiple machines is that it rarely meets expectations, in that it is typical to require several hours or more and thus produce no real time saving at all.