Windows Deployment Services

Windows Deployment Services is a server technology from Microsoft for network-based installation of Windows operating systems. It is the successor to Remote Installation Services.[1] WDS is intended to be used for remotely deploying Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2016, but also supports other operating systems because unlike its predecessor RIS, which was a method of automating the installation process, WDS uses disk imaging, in particular the Windows Imaging Format (WIM). WDS is included as a Server Role in all 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2008, and is included as an optionally installable component with Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2.

Automated image capture and apply

WDS functions in conjunction with the Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) to load a miniature edition of Windows known as Windows PE for installation and maintenance tasks. WDS functions as both a storage repository for the PXE network boot images as well as a repository for the actual operating system images to be installed on the target computer.

When multiple boot images are available, PXE booting via WDS will present the end-user with a boot menu to select the image to load.

Windows PE automation using WAIK

To simplify the tasks of capturing and applying images, two special scripted Windows PE boot images can be created which automate these tasks. These scripted Windows PE boot images are created using the Windows Automated Installation Kit, in combination with Windows 7 installation media containing the source WIM images, and then added to the WDS server's boot image repository. The Windows PE boot images may be either 32- or 64-bit, but 32-bit tends to be more universally compatible across all potential hardware types.

A difficulty of Windows PE booting is that it needs to include network drivers and disk controller drivers intended to work with the target hardware to be imaged. The process of adding drivers to the Windows PE boot image can be automated using the WDS server console:

  1. Select the source WIM image, which may be either a new one created from original Windows 7 installation DVDs (32- or 64-bit), or a previously configured WIM.
  2. Select the drivers to install into the WIM
  3. WDS mounts the WIM to a virtual path, adds drivers to the virtual path, and generates a new WIM
  4. The updated WIM image is added to the boot image section of the WDS repository

This process can be repeated at a later time when a new system type needs to be captured but the current Windows PE Capture boot image does not include network drivers for it. The boot image is updated with the additional drivers using the WDS interface and automatically re-added to the WDS boot image collection to replace the original.

For specialty one-off systems this WIM driver update process is not necessary if the hard drive of the target system to be captured is removed from the source system after sysprepping, and is either installed in a computer with supported network drivers, or attached to the supported system using an external "USB to hard drive" adapter.

Automated apply process

Applying a captured image involves running a second Windows PE "Apply" boot image on the target system to receive the image. This boot image also needs the appropriate network and disk controller drivers as with the Windows PE Capture boot image.

  1. The system is booted using PXE network booting and the Windows PE Apply image is loaded.
  2. The operator logs on to the domain, and selects the boot image to apply.
  3. A disk partitioning screen appears and the location for the target image is selected. If the target storage is unformatted, a default partition set is created. For Vista and Windows 7, a small 100 megabyte boot partition is created for storing bootloader data separate from the rest of the system partition. This boot partition is normally hidden from the Windows Vista/7 user.
  4. The image data is applied to the selected partition, and the system reboots, either running the Sysprep manual mini-setup process or following the script created during the initial Sysprepping.

The WDS image creator may optionally select a separate WAIK / Sysprep installation script to be applied to the image during the first boot. This alternate script is selected within WDS by viewing the properties of each uploaded system image.

Manual image capture and deploy

It is technically possible to create scripts that manually perform the imaging, capture, and apply processes, using command line tools provided by Microsoft. However, the methods for doing this are complex and difficult.

In general, the tools involved are:

  • dism - Deployment Image Service and Management Tool, used to add drivers to Windows PE boot images.
  • imagex - used to capture and apply images. Creates either a single WIM structure, or can deduplicate data using a second shared resource WIM. Does not require a Windows Deployment Server to capture or apply images, and can work solely with a logged-on network share or mapped drive letter.
  • wdsutil - used to manage the WDS server without the graphical user interface, and to add captured images to the repository.

Using imagex to manually create a WIM does not require the source operating system to be sysprepped or for the source partition to contain a Windows operating system. Any type of Windows-accessible file system can be imaged, including MSDOS, but the source system either needs to be able to run Windows PE or the source system's hard drive is moved into a newer system that supports Windows PE.

Microsoft generally requires Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and Windows 7 to be sysprepped before imaging, due to certain security-related disk data that Microsoft requires to be unique across duplicated system images. Sysprep randomizes this data when the image is applied to a new system.

Imagex does not have any disk formatting and partitioning capabilities. Separate Windows command line tools such as diskpart are needed to define partitions on the target system for imagex to use.


  1. ^ "Windows Deployment Services". Retrieved 2015-08-28.

External links

See also

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT; formerly Business Desktop Deployment) is a computer program that permits network deployment of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office.


NetBoot is a technology from Apple which enables Macs with capable firmware (i.e. New World ROM) to boot from a network, rather than a local hard disk or optical disc drive. NetBoot is a derived work from the Bootstrap Protocol (BOOTP), and is similar in concept to the Preboot Execution Environment. The technology was announced as a part of the original version of Mac OS X Server at Macworld Expo on 5 January 1999. NetBoot has continued to be a core systems management technology for Apple, and has been adapted to support modern Mac Intel machines. NetBoot, USB, and FireWire are some of the external volume options for Mac OS re-install.

Network booting

Network booting, shortened netboot, is the process of booting a computer from a network rather than a local drive. This method of booting can be used by routers, diskless workstations and centrally managed computers (thin clients) such as public computers at libraries and schools.

Network booting can be used to centralize management of disk storage, which supporters claim can result in reduced capital and maintenance costs. It can also be used in cluster computing, in which nodes may not have local disks.

In the late 1980s/early 1990s, network boot was used to save the expense of a disk drive, because a decently sized harddisk would still cost thousands of dollars, often equaling the price of the CPU.

Preboot Execution Environment

In computing, the Preboot eXecution Environment (PXE, most often pronounced as pixie) specification describes a standardized client-server environment that boots a software assembly, retrieved from a network, on PXE-enabled clients. On the client side it requires only a PXE-capable network interface controller (NIC), and uses a small set of industry-standard network protocols such as DHCP and TFTP.

The concept behind the PXE originated in the early days of protocols like BOOTP/DHCP/TFTP, and as of 2015 it forms part of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) standard. In modern data centers, PXE is the most frequent choice for operating system booting, installation and deployment.

Remote Installation Services

RIS, Remote Installation Services is a Microsoft-supplied server that allows PXE BIOS-enabled computers to remotely execute boot environment variables.

These variables are likely computers that are on a company's (or that company's client's) network. RIS is used to create installation images of operating systems or computer configurations, which can be used to demonstrate the installation process to users whose machines have been granted access to the RIS server. This eliminates the need to use a CD-ROM for installing an operating system.

Technical features new to Windows Vista

Windows Vista (formerly codenamed Windows "Longhorn") has many significant new features compared with previous Microsoft Windows versions, covering most aspects of the operating system.

In addition to the new user interface, security capabilities, and developer technologies, several major components of the core operating system were redesigned, most notably the audio, print, display, and networking subsystems; while the results of this work will be visible to software developers, end-users will only see what appear to be evolutionary changes in the user interface.

As part of the redesign of the networking architecture, IPv6 has been incorporated into the operating system, and a number of performance improvements have been introduced, such as TCP window scaling. Prior versions of Windows typically needed third-party wireless networking software to work properly; this is no longer the case with Windows Vista, as it includes comprehensive wireless networking support.

For graphics, Windows Vista introduces a new as well as major revisions to Direct3D. The new display driver model facilitates the new Desktop Window Manager, which provides the tearing-free desktop and special effects that are the cornerstones of the Windows Aero graphical user interface. The new display driver model is also able to offload rudimentary tasks to the GPU, allow users to install drivers without requiring a system reboot, and seamlessly recover from rare driver errors due to illegal application behavior.

At the core of the operating system, many improvements have been made to the memory manager, process scheduler, heap manager, and I/O scheduler. A Kernel Transaction Manager has been implemented that can be used by data persistence services to enable atomic transactions. The service is being used to give applications the ability to work with the file system and registry using atomic transaction operations.

Trivial File Transfer Protocol

Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) is a simple lockstep File Transfer Protocol which allows a client to get a file from or put a file onto a remote host. One of its primary uses is in the early stages of nodes booting from a local area network. TFTP has been used for this application because it is very simple to implement.

TFTP was first standardized in 1981 and the current specification for the protocol can be found in RFC 1350.

Windows NT startup process

The Windows NT startup process is the process by which Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 operating systems initialize. In Windows Vista and later, this process has changed significantly; see Windows Vista startup process for information about what has changed.

Windows Preinstallation Environment

Windows Preinstallation Environment (also known as Windows PE and WinPE) is a lightweight version of Windows used for the deployment of PCs, workstations, and servers, or troubleshooting an operating system while it is offline. It is intended to replace MS-DOS boot disks and can be booted via USB flash drive, PXE, iPXE, CD-ROM, or hard disk. Traditionally used by large corporations and OEMs (to preinstall Windows client operating systems on PCs during manufacturing), it is now widely available free of charge via Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK).

Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2003 is a server operating system produced by Microsoft and released on April 24, 2003. It is the successor to Windows 2000 Server and the predecessor to Windows Server 2008. An updated version, Windows Server 2003 R2, was released to manufacturing on December 6, 2005. Windows Server 2003's kernel was later adopted in the development of Windows Vista.

Windows Server 2008

Windows Server 2008 is a server operating system produced by Microsoft. It was released to manufacturing on February 4, 2008, and reached general availability on February 27, 2008. It is the successor of Windows Server 2003, released nearly five years earlier.

Windows Server 2012

Windows Server 2012, codenamed "Windows Server 8", is the fifth release of Windows Server. It is the server version of Windows 8 and succeeds Windows Server 2008 R2. Two pre-release versions, a developer preview and a beta version, were released during development. The software was generally available to customers starting on September 4, 2012.Unlike its predecessor, Windows Server 2012 has no support for Itanium-based computers, and has four editions. Various features were added or improved over Windows Server 2008 R2 (with many placing an emphasis on cloud computing), such as an updated version of Hyper-V, an IP address management role, a new version of Windows Task Manager, and ReFS, a new file system. Windows Server 2012 received generally good reviews in spite of having included the same controversial Metro-based user interface seen in Windows 8, which includes the "Charms Bar" for quick access to settings in the desktop environment.

Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows Server 2012 R2 is the sixth version of the Windows Server family of operating systems. It was unveiled on June 3, 2013 at TechEd North America, and released on October 18, 2013.A further update, formally designated Windows Server 2012 R2 Update, was released in April 2014. It is a cumulative set of security, critical and other updates.Windows Server 2012 R2 was succeeded by Windows Server 2016.

Windows Vista

Windows Vista is an operating system that was produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, tablet PCs and media center PCs. Development was completed on November 8, 2006, and over the following three months, it was released in stages to computer hardware and software manufacturers, business customers and retail channels. On January 30, 2007, it was released worldwide and was made available for purchase and download from the Windows Marketplace; it is the first release of Windows to be made available through a digital distribution platform. The release of Windows Vista came more than five years after the introduction of its predecessor, Windows XP, the longest time span between successive releases of Microsoft Windows desktop operating systems.

New features of Windows Vista include an updated graphical user interface and visual style dubbed Aero, a new search component called Windows Search, redesigned networking, audio, print and display sub-systems, and new multimedia tools such as Windows DVD Maker. Vista aimed to increase the level of communication between machines on a home network, using peer-to-peer technology to simplify sharing files and media between computers and devices. Windows Vista included version 3.0 of the .NET Framework, allowing software developers to write applications without traditional Windows APIs.

Microsoft's primary stated objective with Windows Vista was to improve the state of security in the Windows operating system. One common criticism of Windows XP and its predecessors was their commonly exploited security vulnerabilities and overall susceptibility to malware, viruses and buffer overflows. In light of this, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced in early 2002 a company-wide "Trustworthy Computing initiative", which aimed to incorporate security into every aspect of software development at the company. Microsoft stated that it prioritized improving the security of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 above finishing Windows Vista, thus delaying its completion.While these new features and security improvements have garnered positive reviews, Vista has also been the target of much criticism and negative press. Criticism of Windows Vista has targeted its high system requirements, its more restrictive licensing terms, the inclusion of a number of then-new DRM technologies aimed at restricting the copying of protected digital media, lack of compatibility with some pre-Vista hardware and software, longer boot time, and the number of authorization prompts for User Account Control. As a result of these and other issues, Windows Vista had seen initial adoption and satisfaction rates lower than Windows XP. However, with an estimated 330 million Internet users as of January 2009, it had been announced that Vista usage had surpassed Microsoft's pre-launch two-year-out expectations of achieving 200 million users.

At the release of Windows 7 (October 2009), Windows Vista (with approximately 400 million Internet users) was the second most widely used operating system on the Internet with an approximately 19% market share, the most widely used being Windows XP with an approximately 63% market share. In May 2010, Windows Vista's market share had an estimated range from 15% to 26%. On October 22, 2010, Microsoft ceased sales of retail copies of Windows Vista, and the OEM sales for Vista ceased a year later. In March 2019, Vista's market share was 0.55% of Windows' total market share.

Windows Vista networking technologies

In computing, Microsoft's Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 introduced in 2007/2008 a new networking stack named Next Generation TCP/IP stack,

to improve on the previous stack in several ways.

The stack includes native implementation of IPv6, as well as a complete overhaul of IPv4. The new TCP/IP stack uses a new method to store configuration settings that enables more dynamic control and does not require a computer restart after a change in settings. The new stack, implemented as a dual-stack model, depends on a strong host-model and features an infrastructure to enable more modular components that one can dynamically insert and remove.

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