So in my previous posts on WAIK and WDS I talked about what they offer. Call me totally sad but after having a good play with these today Im totally excited about how easy it is to deploy!

Todays goals were to setup a good test scenario and prove out how to actually do this stuff in practise. I was surprised at just how far this has come along now!

I already had a WDS Server installed. Its part of my Longhorn Server Beta 2 but for those of you that would rather do the RIS update to get it to WDS, that hotfix is provided as part of the WAIK Beta 2 kit.

To get it working follow these steps:

  • Install Windows Server 2003 and RIS - hotpatch it to WDS using the hotpatch in the WAIK. Should be fairly straight forward and fast. Might need to reboot the server - cant remember whether I had to.
  • You get a new management interface that has everything all in the one place!
  • To get WDS working you need two different images. The first one is the WinPE boot image and can be found in boot.wim of your Vista CD. This uploads into the Boot Images area of WDS. You can put in an x86 or an x64 boot image.
  • Make sure if you want to provision to x64 machines that you set in the WDS server the ability to discover processor architectures. By default its not set. Type this: wdsutil /set-server /architecturediscovery:YES
  • The second image is the actual Vista image. Its in the install.wim file on your Vista CD and as you import you need to specify which SKU's you want. For example: Vista Ultimate, Vista Enterprise etc. You of course need corresponding product keys to install each one. You can also import x86 or x64 images here too.
  • Once you have done those bits you need to make sure all your other prerequisites are done. This includes DHCP setup and ensuring that the pxeclient options are set in your scopes.
  • Boot with a PXE client from your WDS server - it should attach and give you the ability to boot in WinPE.
  • The first screen you see is the WDS Welcome screen. You follow the prompts, authenticate to the WDS if necessary and select your Vista image - it deploys quite quickly. Ive found I ca have a Vista image running in about 20 mins whereas off DVD you can add another 20 mins.
  • Once your image is deployed go through and set it all up. Install any necessary drivers. Install Office 2007 Beta 2 like I did. Get it sweet :)
  • Run sysprep. Its found in the c:\windows\system32\sysprep directory. Choose the options for "Generalise" which strips out machine specific information and "Setup for OOBE" which resets the machine to the Out Of Box Experience. Finally set it to Shutdown. Sysprep then whizzes away and does its thing.
  • You restart the PXE client and boot back into WinPE through to the WDS welcome screen
  • Press Shift and F10 - this launches a command prompt
  • At this point you have two choices:
    • If you want to capture the image and upload it straight into WDS then run "wdscapture.exe". This tool already exists in WinPE and is a graphical tool that allows you to select which drive you want to image, where to put it and finally allows you to upload it straight to the WDS Server!!! Its very cool!
    • If you dont want to upload straight to WDS then you can do your usual "net use" commands, map drives back to the server and use imagex.exe which is your all in one image manipulation tool and use that to capture the image. Be aware though that when capturing an image you need to specify an "exclusion" list. Its to prevent errors and access denials by filtering out stuff it shouldnt be capturing. It looks like this and is in an ini file:





"system volume information"



    • At this point you have a new image in your WDS store


Like I mentioned. Ill be demo'ing this at the Perth Infrastructure Group on Wednesday 31st May. Come along and see it!