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So we’ve spent the last while getting to know how to import an O/S, drivers, packages, Dependencies, Service Packs and keeping it all organized.  This time we get to have some fun with it.

Up until now, it’s been VERY much like you’re out in the store, gathering ingredients to cook a very special dish.   Really your Deployment point IS just that.  A well organized pile of ingredients you pull together to “Dish out” an image to install on to your workstations or servers.

Ok, enough comparing this food.  I missed lunch and this is making me Hungry.

The first part into making all of this useful is to create a Task Sequence.  A task Sequence is a predefined set of XML’s, INI’s and even vbScript to call up and control the installation of the Operating System and applications as you see fit.

But rather than throw Dominoes at you all day long until you learn vbScript, XML files and how to understand what any of the stuff an INI file contains, Microsoft uses MDT to prompt with a very simple Step by Step wizard to create modify and tweak that structure to get you up and running.   I should mention now, this is not a set of files you’re not ever allowed to modify, but of a predefined base configuration that will get you up and running pretty quickly.

You can and are most encouraged to take it beyond that level.

So to create a Task Sequence you will have to Right Click on “Task Sequences” in the Left Panel in the Deployment Workbench.  Like everything so far you can still break this down into a Subfolder structure.  I’ve found this is especially helpful here.  As were get near the in Building Media, the more organized and granular your structure, the better the final product can be.

Choosing “New Task Sequence” presents a simple Wizard prompting for 3 pieces of Information.

Task sequence ID:

This entry is UNIQUE for easy Task Sequence.  It could be a word or a series of numbers.  It is completely dependant on you.  What is very important to near (When you get into the end of all this generating  a NEAR ZTI deployment is that the name is used Programatically by MDT.  This means at one point when you get towards pure automation, you will tell MDT to launch this task by it’s Task sequence ID.   I recommend making it sensible so when you go to customize, you don’t have to think too hard about what you would have called it.

Task sequence name:

When you actually get installing, this is the Displayed name for your choice.   It can be very descriptive but I wouldn’t go about writing a 12 page novel about it.  KISS. Keep it Simple Silly.

Task sequence comments:

As you can tell by the amount of space, you can be pretty verbal here.  It could be as simple as “My First Windows 7 deployment” to “Our Corporate Windows 7 Enterprise Image that Ernie the CoOp student made and we’re all placing bets on whether it will work or somehow magically take out the entire network” – It’s up to you.

Here’s an example below

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Clicking next we get to the stage where we choose the general “Predefined Behaviour” of this task.  There are (as we can see below) seven basic configurations.

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Sysprep and Capture

This sequence when run is designed to do what it says, do a SYSPREP on a live operating system removing the Product key and identifying information and capture it back another location (physical USB, Network drive) as a Gold image.   ALWAYS do SYSPREP on a clean machine as there is a limit as to how many times you can “re run” Sysprep on a system. 

Standard Client Task Sequence

This is my default I work with.  It is designed to ask the basic questions to install the O/S and Applications and then take over when you say go.  If you run this sequence within a live Windows XP operating system (IE: Connecting to a network Share) it has the amazing ability to Migrate the user data on the physical machine, install a clean O/S and then migrate it back.   Most of the time you’ll probably use this one

Standard Client Replace Sequence

This has a simple task in mind.  Prepare a computer FOR replacement (Backing up data and settings, entire systems and then afterwards wiping the system clean)

Custom Task Sequence

A raw slate.   Completely customizable.   Never used it myself personally Winking smile

Litetouch OEM Task Sequence

A variant on the Client Task sequence with a few extra predefined steps added in for OEM manufactuers.  This is scenario where you need the O/S and applications installed,  tweak things up the way an OEM wants to do and and snaps it all shut for a new User.  

Standard Server Task Sequence

Similar to Standard Client Task Sequence but geared towards a server.  Typically you don’t install a pile of applications on a server so a little simpler.

Post OS Installation Task Sequence

A task to allow you to run additional changes to the O/S after install.  Yup.  Haven’t had the need for this one yet either Smile

Now to SAVE YOU TIME if I am trying to setup a Deployment point to just Automate the install of Windows 7, Vista or XP typically I am just using “Standard Client Task Sequence”.  If you’re doing a full scale upgrade across multiple systems you may well want to looking into programming a Standard Client Replace Sequence to capture settings first and blank all the machines out afterwards.   Especially if you’re changing the Physical machines on the user (*SURPRISE!*)

In our scenario I’ve chosen a “Standard Client Task Sequence” and clicked next.  Now you get to see where organization pays off.   If you have MULTIPLE operating systems installed, at this point you are going to select ONE for this task since EASY TASK SEQUENCE is tied about a Single O/S deployment.    So if you wanted one for Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Professional, you would have to create a new sequence for the second one (or the third, or the fourth or the 35th one)

Here we’ve chosen Windows 7 Enterprise

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Clicking next we’ll have one of three options to fill in.   If we have Windows 7 or Windows Vista we have the option of NOT specifying the Product key at this time.   If you have an MAK key you can key it in here right now and have the product key ready installed.  If most of your workstations have OEM stickers on the side or RETAIL, you’ll want to avoid prepopulating a key.  It’s easier to key in 25 digits as you install than removing the product key from the register afterwards to change it.    If you have Windows XP or Server 2003 you will need to use a key.   If you only have an OEM key, you’ll be busy pulling it out on each machine.

So get Windows 7 and make life easier on yourself.  It’s a more cost effective deployment.

Clicking next brings up our “Description page” where we can have the Full Name, Organization and even the default website prepopulated on our systems

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Next we can choose to specify the local Administrative password on our installs. No, users cannot retrieve it from a file in clear text and view it.  I know because I tried.  (I forgot a password I assigned to the local Administrator Account in one deployment image I made, It ended becoming a game for a short while of “Quick, join it to the domain or if you forget you’ll have to image it all over again)

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The choice is up to you and an interesting side note.  Using Preferences in a Server 2008 or Server 2008R2 environment will allow you to manage the local Administrator account membership and passwords via Group Policy. (But that’s for another post)

Click Next twice and finish (And don’t forget your Powershell script too!)

Now at this point if you were to access your Deployment Share over the network, or have it on a portable drive of some type (maybe a USB?) from within a Live Operating system (or a Windows PE Network boot) you would have a basic deployment that ask you some questions (Like the computer name, whether you want to back up the data, which applications you want to install etc) and afterwards *IT* would do all the work

But this isn’t what we want.  We want a deployment we can pop into a WDS server or USB / DVD media.  We’d like to just Boot up and take it onto a Netbook with a blank drive

Which is where we touch on our next two parts next round,  Selection Profiles and Media

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