This scenario describes how to create and deploy an image of a custom Windows® installation by using a server, specifically using Windows Deployment Services role in Windows Server® 2008. Windows Deployment Services is the updated version of Remote Installation Services (RIS). You can use it to set up new computers by using a network-based installation.

Most computers now support booting directly from network by pressing a function key during boot up. This means you do not need any bootable media to start the computer. Once connected to your server, you can select from a list of images to install. The image creation process is the same as creating a single computer installation, as described in previous scenarios. The image deployment process requires the presence of a Windows Server 2008 with Windows Directory Services installed.


Reference computer

The computer on which you will install Windows. Later, you will copy the image on this computer to the destination computers.

Technician computer

The computer on which you install the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) and where you create answer files.

Answer file

An XML file that contains the settings and configurations to apply to a Windows image during installation.

Configuration set

A file and folder structure that contains the necessary files that control the preinstallation process and define the manufacturers' custom information.


An imaging tool used to capture and deploy the Windows operating system.

Windows PE

A minimal Microsoft® Win32® installation environment with limited services. Built on the Windows kernel, Windows PE provides an environment to prepare a computer for Windows installation, copies disk images from a network file server, and starts Windows Setup.

Windows Deployment Services

Software services that enable an administrator to set up new client computers remotely, without having to visit each client. The target clients must support remote booting. Windows Deployment Services is the replacement for Remote Installation Services (RIS).

Process Overview

The process of creating the image begins by creating a configuration set using Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM) and storing the configuration set onto a removable media device, such as a USB flash drive (UFD). You then insert your removable media, containing the configuration set, and a Windows product DVD into the reference computer. Start the computer, and Windows Setup will apply any settings specified in the answer file contained within the configuration set. When Windows Setup is finished, you will restart the system in Audit mode, where you can make additional customizations as well as verify that specific customizations were applied. When you are satisfied with the installation, you will prepare the image for duplication using the System preparation (Sysprep) tool, the ImageX tool, and Windows PE. Once you have captured the image, you will store the image onto your Windows Server.

The process for deploying the image begins with booting a destination computer from the network. Windows Deployment Services will provide a list of images to install. Select an image from the list and Windows Deployment Services will install the image onto the destination computer using Windows PE and Windows Setup.

Diagram of workflow of deploying from a server

Scenario Tasks

Before you begin, make sure you have the following:

  • A technician computer with the Windows AIK tools installed

  • Windows installation media, such as a Windows product DVD

  • An assembled reference computer

  • A blank CD-ROM

Task Description For more information

Identify your requirements

Consider the different ways you can customize your Windows image. For example, adding recovery and security as part of your solution. Make sure your customizations comply with your license terms.

Create bootable Windows PE media

Windows PE provides an environment to capture a copy of your newly created installation. You will use the ImageX tool to capture the installation.

Create a reference computer

You must first create an image of a Windows installation known as a reference computer. Creating a reference computer is the same as creating one computer installation with the addition of capturing an instance of the hard drive after the installation is complete.

Capture an image

Once you have an installed reference computer, you can will capture an image of the installation using Windows PE and ImageX.

Deploy Windows Using Windows Deployment Services

Installing and configuring a Windows Server 2008 is not covered in the Windows AIK. Review the provided link for more information.

Additional Information

The following list shows additional options you might want to consider as you develop your Windows deployment strategy:

See Also