Windows 10 deployment news

As part of my recent speaking at Campus Days in Copenhagen, and my interest in Windows 10 in general, I recently got the chance to explore the new ways of deploying the OS. Don’t be scared, you can still use the methods you use today, but in this ever changing IT world you better look into the new ways too 🙂

Long story short: Microsoft want you to do in-place deployments from Windows 10 and on.

“But in-place upgrades suck! It takes forever and nothing works!”

While that might be true for the past, it’s not what’s going to happen with Windows 10, Microsoft has done a lot of work in improving the experience, the reliability and the speed. Let’s take a look at a simple wipe & load deployment process today:

  1. First we capture the data we need; settings, drivers, and so on
  2. Then we wipe the disk and deploy our custom build image (which we’ve spent time prepping before all this could start)
  3. We inject drivers, install applications etc
  4. Last we restore user data & settings

This is well known process and we know it works. It will still be possible with Windows 10, nothings changed here. Lets go through the in-place upgrade process, for Windows 10 that is:

  1. You’ll start by running setup.exe from the media (has to be the original media, more on that later)
  2. This will kick off the upgrade process, which will keep settings, applications, drivers etc. This process uses a WinPE environment just like you’re used to, it’s just done by the OS and not you.
  3. After the clean OS is installed, everything is restored in to place

The process is very much like a wipe & load, but without you having to do the work. There are some challenges to this approach though… For example, we have to use the original Windows 10 media. This means NO custom imaging! The process cannot merge data from the old OS with the new.. Try installing a Windows 10 with Office 2013 on a Windows 7 with Office 2010.. It’s not gonna be pretty. We can however use MDT/SCCM – which will be fully supported – or whatever tool you’re using today, and create a task sequence to handle these issues.

So what are the improvements I talked about? One thing is the time this used to take, it could take HOURS, which no one want to wait for. This has changed, a lot! By moving files instead of copying and do this on a per-folder level instead of per-file we’re saving a lot of time. Another thing is the reliability.. We have to be sure this works, and if anything fails during the upgrade we need to roll back. This is also possible now and built in so we do not have to fear a scenario where a user starts updating his laptop without power plugged in, if install fails or is interrupted we can simply roll back to the OS he came from and try again.
Oh and by the way, this is supported from Windows 7 and newer.. Yes that’s right, we don’t have a limitation of n-1 anymore, and if you’re one of the many companies that skipped Windows 8/8.1 you can still leverage this process.

This is it for now, there will be more posts on Windows 10 coming soon. Until then check out these links:

How to upgrade to Windows 10 using the task sequence in System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager

Windows 10: Deployment session from TechEd Europe

And remember, you can already try out Windows 10, just go to the Windows Insider site!

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