Windows Vista and Office 2007 deployment brain dump

This week I’m working on a Desktop Deployment Planning Services (DDPS) engagement with a customer. It’s been a while since I last looked at deployment (basically I haven’t done anything since I passed the Windows Vista and Office 2007 deployment exam) so I’m revising my notes in preparation for a workshop tomorrow.

As a supplement to my previous post on a BDD 2007 overview and Office 2007 customisation and deployment using BDD 2007, this is a rollup of just about everything I could lay my hands on about Vista and Office deployment. It’s not particularly well structured – let’s just call it a “brain dump”. If anyone has anything extra to add, please leave a comment at the end of this post:

Windows imaging technologies

  • ImageX (imagex.exe) is a command line tool for manipulating Windows Imaging Format (.WIM) files. It is built using the Windows imaging API (WIMGAPI) together with a .WIM file system filter.
  • Windows Vista images are HAL-independent and make use of single instance storage. To minimise the amount of space used by Windows Vista installation images, use imagex.exe to apply images to separate folders on a computer and then append these images to the final image.
  • Windows System Image Manager (SIM) is used to create and maintain answer files.
  • To modify an image, use imagex.exe to mount it and then apply an unattended setup answer file (unattend.xml).
  • Package Manager (pkgmgr.exe) can be used to update both image files and computers that have already had an image applied:
    • When used to update computers that have already had an update applied, pkgmgr.exe can install, configure and update features in Windows Vista (e.g. installed components, device drivers, language packs, updates). It can also be used with an unattended installation answer file for new installations.
    • When adding additional drivers to an existing Windows Vista image, use pkgmgr.exe to add the drivers from a folder.

Windows Vista deployment

  • Windows Setup (setup.exe) for Vista is now GUI-only and there is no more winnt.exe and winnt32.exe.
  • Windows installation is structured around a number of configuration passes:
    • Windows PE.
    • Offline servicing.
    • Generalise.
    • Specialise.
    • Audit system.
    • Audit user.
    • OOBE system.
  • unattend.xml is a single unattended installation answer file, replacing multiple files in previous versions of Windows – including unattend.txt, cmdlines.txt, winbom.ini, oobeinfo.ini and sysprep.inf.
  • To avoid prompting users for input during the installation of Windows Vista, create an unattended setup installation file and copy this to a USB flash drive, then ensure that the flash drive is present during Windows Vista installation.
  • unattend.xml must be renamed to autounattend.xml when used on removable media during installation and replaces winnt.sif.
  • The Out-of-Box Experience (OOBE) is now known as Windows Welcome and is controlled with oobe.xml, which includes options for Windows Welcome, ISP sign-up and the Windows Vista Welcome Center.
  • Disk repartitioning can be configured in the first pass of the Windows PE section of unattend.xml.
  • When using multiple hardware configurations, create a distribution point that includes an Out-of-Box Drivers folder.
  • Windows Deployment Services (WDS) replaces Remote Installation Services (RIS).
  • When using WDS with computers that do not have PXE capabilities, create a WDS discovery image and use this to create a bootable CD for Windows Vista installation.
  • When using WDS on a server that provides DHCP services, enable DHCP Option 60 and configure WDS to listen on port 67.
  • If the WDS Image Capture Wizard is unable to capture a reference computer image, restart the reference computer and run sysprep /generalize /oobe.
  • The Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) replaces deploy.cab and contains updated versions of tools previously provided to OEMs (e.g. Windows PE) for use in corporate deployments.
  • The OEM Preinstallation Toolkit (OPK) is for system builders, containing the WAIK and additional OEM-specific information (e.g. OEM licensing).
  • bootsect.exe is used to enable deployment alongside earlier versions of Windows with the Windows Vista boot manager (bootmgr.exe) – it replaces fixfat.exe and fixntfs.exe (both included with Windows Vista). Microsoft knowledge base article 919529 has more details.
  • boot.ini has been replaced by the >Boot Configuration Data.
  • The System Preparation Tool (sysprep.exe) is installed by default on Windows Vista systems in %windir%\system32\sysprep and there are several changes when compared with previous versions:
    • sysprep /reseal is replaced with sysprep /generalize /oobe.
    • sysprep /factory is replaced by sysprep /audit.
    • sysprep /mini is replaced by sysprep /oobe.
    • sysprep /nosidgen is replaced by sysprep /generalize.
    • sysprep /clean and sysprep /bmsd are deprecated.
    • sysprep /activated is replaced by sysprep /generalize (together with slmgr.vbs for managing the activation status of a computer)
    • OEMs are required to run sysprep /oobe before delivery of new computers.

Customising Office 2007 installations

  • Windows Installer Patch (.MSP) files can be used to produce customised Office installations (and then called using a script).
  • Multiple installation shares can be defined within a .MSP file.

Office 2007 deployment

  • To create an Office 2007 installation share (e.g. for scripted deployment), create a shared folder on a server and copy the installation files from the source media to the root of the shared folder.
  • To slipstream Microsoft Office 2007 updates into the deployment, create a folder called updates in the Microsoft Office 2007 distribution folder and copy all updates to this folder.

User data migration:

  • The User State Migration Toolkit (USMT) v3.0 can be used with both Windows XP and Windows Vista.
  • miguser.xml can be used to ensure that USMT captures files with a particular extension during migration.
  • The USMT scanstate.exe command can be used with the /p switch to ensure that sufficient free space exists in a target folder.
  • USMT can migrate user state using a network server during an upgrade that involves repartitioning of disks.
  • If the partition table is to be left intact during a migration, use a local partition with sufficient free space for temporary storage.
  • scanstate.exe can scan a source computer, collect files and create a store without modifying the source. The default action is to compress files and store them in image file (usmt3.mig).
  • loadstate.exe will migrate files and settings from and existing store to the destination computer.
  • The scanscate.exe and loadstate.exe commands have matching command line arguments.
  • Migration XML files include rules to define what should be migrated and are specified with the /i switch:
    • Custom XML files define components to exclude and are created using scanstate /genconfig:config.xml.
    • migsys.xml is used with the /targetxp switch to migrate operating system and browser settings.
    • migapp.xml is used to migrate application settings.
    • miguser.xml is used to migrate user files, folders and filetypes.
    • If the destination computer is running Windows XP, modify miguser.xml, migapp.xml and migsys.xml
    • If the destination computer is running Windows Vista, modify miguser.xml and migapp.xml but migsys.xml is not supported – use config.xml instead.
    • migxml.xsd can write and validate xml files.
  • scanstate /p can be used to create a space estimate file called usmtsize.txt (it will also be necessary to specify /nocompress).

Office 2003-2007 interoperability

Localisation

  • To add multiple language support to Office 2007 applications, install the appropriate language pack on the installation share and update config.xml.
  • To add a language pack to an existing computer, use pkgmgr.exe to apply a new unattended setup installation file that references the appropriate language pack.
  • If the Windows SIM is unable to access language pack settings in a customised Windows Vista image, generate a new catalog based on the custom image.

Further reading

4 thoughts on “Windows Vista and Office 2007 deployment brain dump


  1. MDT is really a development of BDD. The main difference is that BDD 2007 was more about getting Windows (XP or Vista) and Office out to PCs and MDT is also about getting Windows Server deployed but the tools and technologies are similar, if not identical.

    From the point of view of DDPS (which is Microsoft’s packaged service around BDD/MDT), it’s still the same exam that needs to be passed whether it’s for DDPS v2 (based on BDD 2007) or DDPS v3 (based on MDT 2008).

    For what it’s worth, I only took the exam because I had to for my organisation to deliver DDPS.


  2. I’m interested that you’re working on a real live Vista deployment in (I assume) a corporate environment of some sort. How much work of this sort is about? The word on the street seems to be that very few corporates are doing Vista and everyone is hanging on to XP at present.

    I am wondering whether to do an XP client exam or a Vista one, en route to Server 2008 certification.

    What’s your view?


  3. Hi Andrew,
    I’m not working on a single project at the moment, but am performing a number of consultancy engagements with a variety of customers, all of which could be considered as “corporate”. Whilst, many of them are still running XP, more and more are considering targetted Vista deployments (not necessarily the whole estate in one hit).

    In your circumstances, I’d suggest taking a Vista exam rather than an XP one for a number of reasons:

    • XP is old, regardless of the fact that many organisations are still using it. Although I have no first-hand experience of the XP exams, they are likely to refect the way things were in 2001, rather than today’s best practices.
    • Vista has a lot in common with Server 2008 – and as you are working towards Server 2008 certification then that may help you.
    • The XP exams will almost certainly be retired before the Vista ones, so it will be longer before you need to recertify.

    Just my 4p worth! Hope it helps.

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