Consolidating Windows Server deployment images using a single version of Windows PE

Since Windows Server 2008 R2 and all future versions of Windows Server will only be released in x64 versions, you can expect that device drivers for server hardware like RAID controllers will eventually be available only in x64 versions, and this suggests that you'll eventually need to use x64 WinPE for performing image-based installs using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, Windows Deployment Services or System Center Configuration Manager. But since x64 WinPE doesn't include WOW64, this can pose a problem if you have 32-bit tools you need to run during deployment. OEMs particularly may be affected by this since most OEM utilities are still 32-bit only, and that's probably why Microsoft supports using x86 WinPE for deploying x64 Windows. So if you're an OEM or enterprise customer who wants to consolidate their deployment images, what should you do? For now, you should probably continue to use x86 WinPE for deploying your x64 Windows Server images. And for the future, you should probably migrate your 32-bit tools to 64-bit since Microsoft hasn't announced that they'll add WOW64 to x64 WinPE. The future is clearly 64-bit, not just for servers but also for clients, and there's no way of

Mitch Tulloch is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) and widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. For more tips by Mitch you can follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook.

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