Interview: Windows 10 deployment insights (Part 1)

If you would like to read the next part of this article series please go to Interview: Windows 10 deployment insights (Part 2).

Introduction

Johan Arwidmark and Mikael Nyström are two Windows deployment experts based in Sweden that I was pleased to be able to interview for WindowsNetworking.com. Johan is a consultant and all-around geek specializing in Systems Management and Enterprise Windows Deployment Solutions who frequently speaks at tech conferences including the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS), TechEd, and other conferences around the world. Johan is actively involved in deployment communities like http://deploymentresearch.com and http://myitforum.com and has been awarded Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for more than eleven years. Mikael is a Principal Technical Architect at TrueSec, with an extremely broad field of competence. He works in-depth with System Center suite, virtualization, cloud platforms, and operating system deployment. He is a very popular instructor and is frequently used by Microsoft for partner training, and he too speaks at major conferences such as TechEd, Microsoft Ignite, MMS, and Microsoft TechDays. Mikael also spends a lot of time in communities, like http://deploymentbunny.com and http://itproffs.se. Mikael likewise has been awarded Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for more than eleven years.

I recently wrote a review of Johan and Mikael’s latest book “Deployment Fundamentals, Vol. 6: Deploying Windows 10 Using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit” and we published the review in Issue #1066 of our newsletter WServerNews.com which goes out weekly to almost 100,000 IT professionals around the world. Their book is a must-have for organizations planning on migrating their desktop and mobile computers to Windows 10, and you can buy their book on Amazon in either print format or for the Kindle ebook reader platform.

While reading their latest book a number of questions came to my mind, and I directed my questions to Johan and Mikael to solicit their responses which we are now publishing here on WindowsNetworking.com in the form of a two-part interview in this article and the next one. I’m sure that the insights these two experts provide in their answers to these questions will enhance your understanding of how to successfully deploy and migrate to Windows 10 provided that you start off by working through their book. Note that I’ve edited their responses slightly for clarity since I don’t speak Swedish!

The Interview (Part 1)

MITCH: What changes were introduced in Update 2 of MDT 2013 to support the deployment of Windows 10?

Mikael: Many small but needed updates, but the most important was that the logic for in-place upgrade changed (no longer need to log on as an Admin after upgrade was done to complete)

MITCH: Let’s say I’m an administrator of an organization that decided to remain on Windows 7 instead of moving to Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 when they came out. I’m familiar with using MDT 2010 for deploying Windows 7 but haven’t kept up with the enhancements in newer versions of MDT or spent much time learning about the new features introduced in Win 8/8.1. What is the minimum new stuff I need to know so I can start deploying Windows 10 in my test lab? Give me a bullet point list of what I should focus on learning…

Johan: MDT 2013 Update 2, which is the version you need to use for Windows 10 deployment, works pretty much the same as MDT 2010, so if you already know that platform you are in good shape. Also worth noting is that the new platform can deploy both Windows 7 and Windows 10.

MITCH: Will MDT 2013 need to be updated to newer MDT versions as each new “update version” of Windows 10 is released like the Windows 10 November update (version 1511)?

Mikael: That depends. Between MDT 2013 Update 1 and Update 2 the task sequences have not changed so that will be a plain vanilla in-place upgrade. But for all other versions, make a backup of the deployment share, or copy it to another server, install the ADK and MDT, perform an in-place upgrade of the share by opening them, and then re-create all the task sequences.

MITCH: More generally, what changes will one need to make to one’s deployment infrastructure as new versions of Windows 10 are released by Microsoft? For example, Chapter 7 of your book describes how to prepare your infrastructure for OS deployment and in that chapter there’s a section that explains how you can update your ADMX files for Windows 10. But this page on the Microsoft Download Center indicates that Microsoft released updated ADMX files for version 1511 of Windows 10, so would we need to update our OS deployment infrastructure with these new ADMX files in order to be able to deploy Windows 10 v.1511? Are there any other changes we would need to make with our deployment infrastructure each time a new version of Windows 10 is released?

Johan: The deployment infrastructure should not need to be upgraded for every release, but components related to Windows 10 may need to be upgraded. Components like ADMX files, MAPS, ACT, and sometimes the ADK in which case you also need to update your boot image. In general though, not much.

MITCH: As part of setting up your deployment infrastructure you describe in Chapter 7 how to configure Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). I’m a little confused, isn’t WSUS now superseded by Windows Update for Business (WUB)? Shouldn’t WUB be used now instead of WSUS? Or is WUB going to be merged into WSUS causing WSUS to evolve? This is confusing…

Mikael: It is confusing! WUB “could” replace WSUS. WUB is basically “someone else that makes the decisions concerning the patches”, but a lot of organizations would still like to make those decisions. The smaller you are, the closer you are to using WUB. But WUB also downloads updates directly from the WU site and that means that the creation of your reference image will take more time, but that could be solved by always downloading the latest ISO as well as the latest patch and import that as a package. That way the number of patches that needs to be downloaded is going to be only non-Windows 10 files. WUB only applies to Windows 10 operating system files, and in a reference image you most likely have more than just patches for the OS, for example like Office, VC++ and such.

MITCH: Several customers I know have expressed concern about how Microsoft’s new Windows-as-a-service model for Windows 10 impacts their traditional “fat image” approach to deploying Windows. The specific concern is that they will need to rebuild their images from scratch with each new “release” of Windows 10 like the “Windows 10 November update” (version 1511). Is this true or is there some way of working around this problem when using MDT to deploy Windows 10?

Johan: If you don’t rebuild your images (fully automated) from scratch every time there is a new Windows version (upgrade) then you’re doing it wrong. Has been this way for about 20 years, didn’t change with Windows 10.

MITCH: I think what people have been complaining about is the greater frequency that new Windows versions are now going to be released by Microsoft. For example, in the past organizations could build a fat reference image (e.g. of Windows XP or Windows 7) with all of their business applications bundled into it and then deploy the image. Then later when a service pack was released they could test their applications against it and if everything was OK they could simply apply the service pack to their existing computers instead of having to build a new reference image from the Windows version with the SP incorporated. I know of course that all this changed with Windows 8 when service packs went away, but there are many large organizations who opted to remain with Windows 7 and a lot of these organizations favor this fat image approach as it’s enabled them to focus on running their business instead of constantly upgrading their infrastructure.

But now with new Windows versions expected to be released pretty much yearly, won’t organizations who want to continue following this approach now have to build and test new reference images virtually every year? I know you say the build process can be automated, but some of these organizations have hundreds of applications many of which were developed in-house and which take some fiddling around to get them burned into images, so I think you may be overstating it when you say that the image building process can easily be fully automated.

Johan: Companies only need to upgrade like twice a year, and they really should build reference images more often than that. In general we don’t recommend creating super-thick images with hundreds of apps, but in either way, facts still stand, you should have an automated process to generate your reference images or you are not doing your job as an IT Admin, period. It’s called “work” for a reason!

To Be Continued

Stay tuned for the second half of this interview to be published soon right here on WindowsNetworking.com.

If you would like to read the next part of this article series please go to Interview: Windows 10 deployment insights (Part 2).

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