Custom Windows Images with Windows Intune

Custom Windows Images with Windows Intune

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Below is an excerpt from a Technet article that describes an approach to deploying Windows Intune client software on PC images.

Creating custom Windows images containing applications, including management agents, was once a common practice that has fallen out of favor lately. Known as thick imaging, the practice was to build monolithic images that were difficult to maintain and gobbled up vast amounts of storage. The process was to install Windows on a master computer, install applications and configure the computer, and then capture a new image that contained the applications.

The Windows Intune client software is not compatible with the thick imaging process. The client software enrolls the computer in the service during installation, which is why an Internet connection is required during installation. So, the following scenario does not work:

  1. Install Windows on a master computer.
  2. Install the Windows Intune client software, which enrolls the computer in the service. The enrollment data is specific to the computer.
  3. Capture a custom Windows image.
  4. Deploy the image to other computers in the organization. The Windows Intune client does not enroll each computer again, so each machine receives the same enrollment data. This clearly does not work.

As a result, you must use a thin imaging process to deploy the Windows Intune client software. In this process, you install the default Windows image, and then automatically install required applications immediately afterward. Both MDT 2010 and System Center Configuration Manager make this process easy. The benefit is that thin imaging reduces image maintenance and image count considerably. Updating an application no longer requires capturing a new image. You simply update the application in the deployment share.

A hybrid process is possible for organizations that do not use MDT 2010 or System Center Configuration Manager. You can add the Windows Intune installation files to an image, and then run the installer the first time the image boots. You can do this by creating an Unattend.xml file, which Work with Answer Files describes.

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  • Just a quick comment: you cannot install the Windows Intune Client if you have the SCCM agent running on the computer. This is not supported.

  • Moreover, supposing we could use this method to deploy the Intune client, why would we subscribe to Windows Intune if we already have SCCM on site??

    I do not understand this scenario...

  • You do not have to manage a computer with SCCM to use it to deploy images with MDT 2010. So the scenario might be that an Organization has SCCM for managing Servers and PCs at a particular site and uses that with MDT to create and support the deployment images for all their PCs including those managed using Windows Intune.

  • Thanks Bigbruva for this comment.

    But once again, if I already have a SCCM infrastructure set up, why whould I use Windows Intune?? This is a bit strange to have a mix of 2 management solutions...

  • Many larger enterprises find themselves with 'blind spots' in their management solutions, parts of their infrastructure where classic on-premise solutions don't work effectively.  Examples would be mobile or roaming workforces, remote locations and branch offices.  In this case, Windows Intune is a great complement to the exisitng management solution.

  • Elflo, as an example:

    My company has a large number of consultants that we support that are not attached to our domain and are not considered 'internal'.  We need a way to manage those systems that are spread out over the United States and Intune looks to be a perfect solution.  We use MDT to image the systems and a management solution for internal systems, but that management solution does not have the same feature-set as Windows Intune.