Lately Ive been playing around and presenting with Longhorn Server - build 5381 x64 edition.
Build is getting much, much better! Windows Deployment Services, which I was very keen to look at, is working excellent!
WDS replaces RIS with the move to image based deployment. There will be a hotfix released for Windows Server which will take a running RIS Server and update it with WDS functionality. This changes the whole management UI into the WDS one.
When deploying a client in this environment, upon PXE boot you get the option to continue on into RIS or to use WDS. That means you can migrate at your leisure and arent forced to switch right away. You can still do an unattended deployment and be hardware independant even using the image based deployment with WDS!
The best bit is that theres all new tools you can use to build the images. Remember the Windows XP Setup Manager and its messy multiple files....gone! The new tool builds a single unattend.xml file with everything you need in there!
Imagex.exe is the new tool for WIM based management - with it you can capture an image and remount an image to copy files and drivers into it.
Im able to deploy a full Vista install in less than 20 mins once Ive automated it - without any script at all its just over 20mins...great results so far.
Shortly Ill make a small blogcast so you can see how it works....