Deploying Windows 7 - Part 1: Windows AIK 2.0 Enhancements

by [Published on 21 May 2009 / Last Updated on 21 May 2009]

Windows 7 deployment; examining the enhancements made in version 2.0 of the Windows Automated Installation Kit.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

My previous series of articles titled; Deploying Vista, covered the basic concepts and tasks for automating the deployment of Windows Vista SP1 Enterprise using the following tools:

  • Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) version 1.1
  • Windows Deployment Services (Windows DS) server role for Windows Server 2008
  • Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2008 Update 1

Now that Windows 7 has reached Release Candidate stage, many enterprises who passed on migrating their desktop computers to Windows Vista are taking a hard look at migrating them to Windows 7. This is a good idea for two important reasons:

  • Mainstream support for Windows XP is now ended, so it's definitely time to think about upgrading your desktops to a newer version of Windows to ensure support.
  • The general consensus is that Windows 7 is everything that Windows Vista should have been—a lean, reliable, high-performing operating system with exciting new features that makes end-users more productive and the job of IT administrators easier.

But instead of rewriting all thirty-one (!) of my Deploying Vista articles in order to update them for Windows 7, the path I have decided to follow in this new series of articles is to focus on the deltas between deploying the two platforms. This approach should make this current series much shorter than the previous one, while still covering all the new features of Windows 7 deployment.

So let us begin by looking at the newest version of the Windows AIK and how this has changed in Windows 7.

Note #1:
I will be referring you back to specific articles in my Deploying Vista series wherever this is helpful.

Windows AIK 2.0 Enhancements

In article 1 of my Deploying Vista series, we learned about version 1.1 of the Windows AIK, which included various tools, documentation, and other stuff that formed the foundation for automating Vista deployment. Windows 7 has a new version of the Windows AIK that includes new deployment tools but also deprecates some older tools.

First, here are some of the tools that were in Windows AIK 1.1 and are still in Windows AIK 2.0 but may have changed somewhat:

  • Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM) is pretty much unchanged (see article 6 of my Deploying Vista series) although there are some new answer file settings, some existing answer file settings that have changed, and some deprecated answer file settings in Windows 7. We'll examine these changes to answer file settings changes in a future article of this series. 
  • ImageX, the command-line tool for offline servicing of Windows image (WIM) files is still present but has been enhanced with several new command-line options. We learned about ImageX in article 12 of my earlier series and saw how to use this tool in article 13 of that series; we'll learn more about the changes to ImageX in a future article of this present series.
  • Several other command-line tools that were included in the Windows AIK 1.1 are also still included in the Windows AIK 2.0. These tools include Bootsect, Drvload, Oscdimg, and so on.
  • Now here are a few tools that are new to Windows AIK 2.0:
  • Deployment Image Servicing and Management Tool (DISM) is a new command-line tool in Windows AIK 2.0 that combines the functionality three tools found in the Windows AIK 1.1: Package Manager (Pkgmgr.exe), the International Settings Configuration Tool (Intlcfg.exe) and the Windows Preinstallation Environment (PEimg.exe) tools. DISM.exe also includes basic image management capabilities and can be used to mount Windows images in order to add device drivers, packages, and perform other image servicing tasks. We will examine DISM.exe in more detail in the next article of this series. 
  • BCDboot is a new command-line tool that can be used to quickly set up a system partition of repair the computer's boot environment (which is located on the system partition). BCDboot is typically run from Windows PE and we will examine it in more detail in a future article of this series.
  • User State Migration Tool (USMT) 4.0 is a new version of USMT for Windows 7 (the old version 3.0.1 was used with Vista) can be used for migrating user profiles during large-scale deployments where you want to maintain existing user data and settings. USMT 4.0 is now included in the Windows AIK 2.0 (with Windows AIK 1.1, you had to separately download USMT 3.0.1) and has some cool new features such as hardlink migration that make migrating user profiles easier than ever. We'll examine USMT 3.0 in a future article of this series.
  • Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) lets you automate and centrally manage the volume activation of Windows clients using a Multiple Activation Key (MAK). In Windows Vista, this tool was part of Microsoft Volume Activation 2.0 and had to be separately downloaded; in Windows 7 however, the new version 1.2 of VAMT is now included as part of the Windows AIK 2.0.

Finally, the following tools that were part of the Windows AIK 1.1 are now deprecated in the Windows AIK 2.0:

  • Package Manager (Pkgmgr.exe) is still included in Windows AIK 1.1 (and also in a default Windows 7 install) but is no longer needed because its functionality is now included in DISM.exe
  • International Settings Configuration Tool (Intlcfg.exe) has been removed because its functionality is now included in DISM.exe 
  • Windows Preinstallation Environment (PEimg.exe) has been removed because its functionality is now included in DISM.exe
  • PostReflect.exe and VSP1CLN.exe have also been removed.

Installing the Windows AIK 2.0

Whilst writing the RC version of Windows AIK 2.0, it was only available on Microsoft Connect or as part of your MSDN or TechNet subscription. When Windows 7 is released to manufacturing, Windows AIK 2.0 will be available from the Microsoft Download Center as an .iso image file you can mount or burn to DVD media.

You can install the Windows AIK 2.0 onto a technician computer running any of the following operating systems:

  • Windows XP SP3
  • Windows Server 2003 R2 SP3
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Server 2008 R2

If you install the Windows AIK 2.0 on a pre-Vista operating system, you must make sure that you download and install the .NET Framework 2.0 and MSXML 6.0 first on the system.

Figure 1 below shows the splash screen when you install the Windows AIK 2.0. Note that you can use this screen to download the following additional tools you may need for performing your deployment:

  • Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) 5.5 which can be used to evaluate and mitigate application compatibility issues before migrating your desktops to Windows 7.
  • Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) is an inventory, assessment and reporting tool that does not use agent software and can be used to securely assess your environment prior to beginning your migration to Windows 7.
  • Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010 which helps to automate desktop deployment using scripts, a unified Deployment Workbench, and other resources. We looked at how to use the earlier MDT 2008 beginning with article 24 of my Deploying Vista series; MDT 2010 includes many new features and enhancements and we'll be examining them in future articles of this series.


Figure 1:
Splash screen when you insert the Windows AIK 2.0 DVD

Once you have installed the Windows AIK 2.0 on your technician computer, you can use it to deploy the following operating systems:

  • Windows XP SP3
  • Windows Server 2003 R2 SP2
  • Windows Vista SP1 or later
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Server 2008 R2

Additional Resources

More information concerning the Windows AIK 2.0 can be found in the Windows Automated Installation Kit User's Guide (WAIK.chm) which can be accessed by clicking Start | All Programs | Microsoft Windows AIK on a technician computer on which you have installed the Windows AIK 2.0. By the time this article appears on WindowsNetworking.com you should also be able to view this User's Guide on Microsoft TechNet in the Windows 7 section of the Windows Client TechCenter.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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