Deploying Windows 7 with Windows Deployment Services

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So after reading Sanders excellent blogpost "Windows 7 Migration Checklist", I decided to ignore his advice. I'm an early adopter, so i'm just gonna do it and see where that gets me.

I already run Windows 7 RC1 on my personal laptop, with great pleasure I might add. My gaming PC had a dual boot ow Vista and W7RC1, but i didn't use W7 that much. Other computers are running XP and are somewhat older.

My goal is to have every computer running Windows 7 and to deploy it via Windows Deployment Services.

Preparing WDS
So I installed WDS on Windows Server 2008 RTM, which is also my Exchange Server 2007 server. Not ideal, but I didn't have another server available. The installation went fine, I mainly kept it default.

I added the install.wim from the Windows 7 RTM DVD, which took some time. I could even select the editions of Windows 7. I choose all of them. After the installation image was succesfully added, the next step was a boot image. I choose the boot.wim from the Windows Server 2008 RTM DVD.

Deploying via PXE
The unattend files would come later, I wanted to install Windows 7 already! All things up and running, the PXE boot of my laptop worked, boot image loaded succesfully and I could edit my drives and select language settings and such.

But then…. an error:

Windows Package manager
Operation failed with 0x80070002
The system cannot find the file specified.

Frak… Tried it several times, but nogo. But then I remembered that when I configured the drives no System Reserved partition was made…. a new feature of Windows 7…. and that is something the boot..wim WinPE environment should know. Yes, after installing the boot.wim from the Windows 7 DVD it all worked like a charm!

Capturing a prepared image
So now I have a laptop running Windows 7 RTM, stil have to install applications and such. But my settings are marvelously transferred with the Windows Easy Transfer tool, included in Windows 7 and Vista. You have to make a backup of your old installation offcourse, but it works brilliantly.

Next thing is to make a sysprep (after finishing installation) and capture it to the WDS server. Unfortunatly, the creation of that capture image is not going smoothly. But I solved it eventally, WDS want to make a new WIM file based on the boot image that has already been imported. Point it to a location with enough diskspace (takes about 150MB, so that probably won't be a problem) and it generates a knew WIM file. Import it just like the boot image, but give it a suitable name (something with capture in it).

At this point when you boot via PXE, you will see a menu with two boot images. One to be used when deploying an image, and one to capture a sysprepped one. At the moment I'm capturing my laptop installatie of Windows 7 RTM. When that is done, I will deploy it to a self built desktopcomputer (not my gaming pc).


I used the following documentation:
Step-by-Step Guide for Windows Deployment Services in Windows Server 2003

Windows 7 Migration Checklist

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