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Springboard Series Insider


Ben HunterWelcome to the March edition of the Springboard Series Insider. We now have less than one month before support ends for Windows XP. With this in mind, this month’s newsletter is all about deployment.

First, check out the Tip of the Month for details on tomorrow’s live Windows 8.1 Deployment Jump Start on Microsoft Virtual Academy, which will be hosted by myself and three deployment gurus, Michael Niehaus, Johan Arwidmark, and Mikael Nyström. We’ll discuss how to deploy Windows 8.1 in the “real world” with practical guidance that will help jump start your deployments. After you’ve registered for the jump start, read on as Senior Technical Evangelist Matt Hester demystifies all those deployment acronyms out there to help you understand the tools and methods commonly (and effectively) used to deploy Windows 8.1. Then find out why you should integrate the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) into System Center Configuration Manager when deploying Windows from Microsoft MVP and Springboard Series Technical Expert Program (STEP) charter member Johan Arwidmark.

As always, if you have any suggestions on content you’d like to see or resources you need, please feel free to reach out to me personally or email us at In the meantime, please enjoy this edition of the Springboard Series Insider!

Ben Hunter
Sr. Community and Product Manager, Microsoft Windows Commercial Division


New Courses from Microsoft Virtual Academy
Explore the latest best practices and tools plus get step-by-step guidance on planning for, deploying, and optimizing Windows 8.1 with the following new courses from Microsoft Virtual Academy:

Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 8.1 – Walk through the various challenges of the upgrade and learn about the tools that will ensure a seamless transition from Windows XP to Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.1 To Go – Get to know Windows To Go, a feature in Windows 8.1 that can help you support your company’s mobile workforce through a bootable USB that turns almost any PC into a secure Windows 8.1 corporate PC without requiring network connectivity.

Windows Performance Jump Start – Dive deep into the free Windows Performance Toolkit (WPT) and learn how you can use it to tackle real-world Windows performance issues that can impact organizations of all sizes running Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1.

Windows XP Migration Guidance
Still have PCs running Windows XP? Need to overcome common blockers to the migration to a modern operating system such as Windows 8.1? Check out this page for the top migration resources.

Deployment Story: High-Volume Windows 8.1 Update
Learn how Microsoft Information Technology (Microsoft IT) deployed Windows 8.1 in a rapid manner while retaining the user data and applications and requiring minimal user interaction using the Application Management feature of System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager.

Channel 9: Defrag Tools #81 - Aaron Margosis
Check out this episode of Defrag Tools to hear MCS Principal Consultant Aaron Margosis talk about the Sysinternals book he co-authored and demo an Application Installation Recorder that leverages Process Monitor and Windows PowerShell.

PsExec v2.1
PsExec is a Windows Sysinternals command-line utility that enables you to execute programs on remote systems without preinstalling an agent. This latest version encrypts all communication between local and remote systems, including the transmission of command information such as the user name and password under which the remote program executes.


Deploy Windows 8.1 the “Right Way”
There are many ways to deploy Windows 8.1, but what is the best way? What steps can you take to simplify the deployment process and avoid common pitfalls? If these questions are on your mind, find the answers you are looking for with the Windows 8.1 Deployment Jump Start. Presented by Microsoft Virtual Academy, this event will be a real-world guide to deploying Windows 8.1, showing practical approaches to deployment learned by working with early adopters of Windows 8.1 in order to save you time and effort. We’ll start with the basics and then dive deep to teach you how to plan, configure, and manage client deployment to Windows-based computers using Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager and the MDT.

While this jump start session will be recorded and available soon on demand, register today to join us live and participate in a live question-and-answer session with presenters: Microsoft Enterprise Client Management MVPs Johan Arwidmark and Mikael Nyström and Windows Commercial Senior Product Marketing Managers Michael Niehaus and Ben Hunter. Details are as follows:

Title: Windows 8.1 Deployment Jump Start

Date: March 12, 2014

Time: 9:00am – 1:00pm

Where: Online virtual classroom (recorded, with live Q&A)

Cost: Free!


Dell Announces Precision M2800 Affordable Mobile Workstation PC
Explore Dell’s new 15”-class mobile workstation, the Dell Precision M2800, which shares many mobile workstation attributes and capabilities with more expensive offerings, but starts at a lower price point than most other 15” mobile workstation PCs.

Hands-On: TierTime Up Plus 2 3D Printer with Windows 8.1
With the release of 3D printing support in Windows 8.1, 3D printing capabilities and usability have been taken to the next level. See how 3D printers are rapidly becoming more accessible to professionals and hobbyists alike with this walkthrough.

New Windows XP Data Transfer Tool and End of Support Notifications
As the end of support for Windows XP nears, we are continuing to focus on ensuring customers are aware of the deadline and helping them to migrate to a modern operating system such as Windows 8.1. Learn about a free transfer tool that is now available to help copy files and settings from a Windows XP PC to a new device running Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1.


Deployment Demystified: Deploying Windows 8.1 with Windows Server and System Center Configuration Manager
Matt Hester, Senior Technical Evangelist, Microsoft Corporation

Deploying Windows 8.1 has never been easier. There are so many great tools out there to help you scale out the deployment. However, what if you need repeat this process over and over for hundreds or maybe thousands of desktops? Well, that is where Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 come in to help! Whether you want to deploy to a physical machine or to a virtual machine, both Windows Server and System Center offer new and improved technologies to improve your ability to deploy Windows 8.1. In this article, I am going to take a look at some of the key terminology involved in successful deployments, as well as some of the deployment methodologies.

First, let’s learn some of the key terms and technologies involved:

Windows Imaging (WIM) File Format – This is truly the hidden gem of Microsoft deployment technologies. This is the file type that is used to deploy your Windows images. In fact if you look at your Windows 8.1 file, you find two files (install.wim and boot.wim) these files provide you the Windows 8.1 image for setup and deployment. When you perform mass deployments in your organizations with Microsoft technologies, you are essentially creating your own .wim files that cannot your company’s version of Windows. What makes this image so special is that it is hardware agnostic. Unlike previous tools I have used, you do not need to have multiple .wim files for the various types of hardware you have in your organization.

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) – This is one of the great FREE resources that has been around for years. Download the latest version, Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2013 for Windows 8.1 deployment.

Windows Deployment Services (WDS) - WDS has been a built in Windows Server since Windows Server 2003. It enables you to remotely deploy Windows operating systems, both desktops and server installations. It has some new and changed functionality in Windows Server 2012 R2 that you can learn about by reading What's New in Windows Deployment Services in Windows Server 2012 R2.

System Preparation (Sysprep) – This tool has also been around for years and is designed to take any already deployed Windows image and prepare it to be captured and applied to other PCs. It makes the system you run it on “generic”. It removes PC-specific information from the Windows image, including the PC’s security identifier (SID), and generalizes it. Learn more about this tool in Capture an Image for Deployment (Generalize).

Lite Touch deployment – Lite Touch deployment is a deployment methodology where the administrator has to perform some action on the systems to which you are deploying Windows Server. This may be as simple as starting a PXE boot, loading a DVD, or stepping through the installation wizard. This is sometimes referred to as a pull deployment.

Zero Touch deployment – This an automated deployment method where the administrator can essentially force the installation to the targeted systems. This is sometimes known as a push deployment.

So how do the pieces of the puzzle come together? The answer is my favorite answer of all time, “It depends.” You really have to decide what your goals for deployment are. Do you know how many systems you are looking to deploy? Is it 1 desktop or 10,000 desktops? And so on. With any deployment methodology, you basically take the custom WIM file that you created and deploy it using one of a variety of methods. Depending on what you are looking to do, there are three approaches you could take for your deployment project:

Create a centralized location for installation files

Lite Touch deployment

Zero Touch deployment

Centralized Installation Files
If you are looking to store your source files in just one location then this is exactly what WDS provides out of the box. All deployment methods involve centralized installation files; however, with no customization in WDS, in a sense you are just putting the Windows 8.1 DVD on a share.

Lite Touch Deployment
If you’re looking to have a little more customization in your deployments, Lite Touch deployment may be right for you. Maybe you want to configure Windows 8.1 in a predetermined way or maybe you want to install applications like Office 2013, or drivers, or language packages, the list goes on. This is where the marriage of WDS and MDT becomes a wonderful relationship for you and your deployment. As mentioned above, MDT allows you to make your own customized WIM images for deployment. It can also combine the various components (operating system, applications, and drivers) into one task sequence that makes it easy to deploy. It can then leverage WDS’ ability to use PXE boot (network boot), and deliver your components across your network. Lite Touch is not limited to just network deployment. MDT can create ISO images and, bootable USB files to truly provide a flexible delivery method for your clients. It is called Lite Touch because you will need to start the process of deployment from the client systems. What makes this nice is that all the tools for this deployment method are free. Want to learn about Lite Touch Deployment? See Windows 8 Deployment Strategies: Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment.

Zero Touch Deployment
Lastly, if you want to take both deployment and management to the next level, you will want to use System Center 2012. This deployment option provides you with fully automated deployment without any interaction from you as the administrator. However, unlike the previous methods, it is not totally free. While it can leverage WDS, Sysprep, and MDT, Zero Touch deployment also leverages the power of System Center, specifically System Center Configuration Manager. This provides the most scalable method for deployment and while it can get very involved, it is extremely powerful. You can learn more about Zero Touch Deployment in Windows 8 Deployment Strategies: Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment.

As you can see, Windows 8.1 deployment options increase with Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2, both of which provide you with the flexibility to successfully deploy Windows 8.1 for your organization. If you have not had a chance to test Windows Server 2012 R2 or System Center 2012 R2, download the System Center 2012 R2 Evaluation and the Windows Server 2012 R2 Evaluation.

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions please check out my blog at

Matt Hester

Matt Hester is a skilled and experienced IT professional evangelist for Microsoft and has been involved in the IT pro community for over 15 years. He has presented at local and international events and has written articles for TechNet Magazine. Prior to joining Microsoft Matt was a highly successful Microsoft Certified Trainer for over eight years. Check out his latest insights on his blog.


Why Integrate MDT 2013 with Configuration Manager 2012 R2
Johan Arwidmark, Microsoft MVP – Enterprise Client Management, STEP Charter Member

If I had a dollar every time I had to explain the benefits of integrating MDT with Configuration Manager, I could probably buy myself another Surface for that money. All jokes aside, this one of most frequently asked questions in operating system deployment so in this article I give you some common real world examples on why integrating MDT 2013 with Configuration Manager 2012 R2 is a great idea.

The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit is a free, supported download from Microsoft that adds about 280 operating system deployment enhancements to the Configuration Manager operating system deployment platform, I haven’t met a customer yet that hasn’t made good use of at least a few of those enhancements. While I won’t cover them all in this post, I will highlight some of the most useful ones.

I have to admit, there have been times when what I was thinking during a project meeting didn’t exactly match what I ended up saying. The operating system deployment team I was talking to would ask, “Why should we integrate MDT with Configuration Manager?” And I really, really wanted to reply, “Because I will whack you on the side of your head if you don’t!” But I don’t do that; and please don’t you do that either. Whacking someone’s head is not only considered very rude in most cultures, it is most likely illegal as well. Instead my real answer is a list of rock solid reasons and arguments.

Reason #1: MDT Enables Dynamic Deployment
When MDT is integrated with Configuration Manager, the task sequence takes additional instructions from the MDT rules. In its simplest form, these settings are stored in a text file, the CustomSettings.ini file, but you can optionally store the settings in SQL databases, or have VBScripts or Web Services provide the settings used. These instructions that the task sequence is using allow you to reduce the number of task sequences in Configuration Manager and, instead, store settings outside the task sequence. Here are a few examples:

The below settings instructs the task sequence to install the HP Hotkeys package, but only if the hardware is a HP EliteBook 8570w. Note that you don’t have to add the package to the task sequence.

[HP EliteBook 8570w]
Packages001=PS100010:Install HP Hotkeys

The below settings instructs the task sequence to put laptops and desktops in different organization units during deployment, assign different computer names, and have the task sequence install the Cisco VPN client, but only if it’s a laptop.

Priority= ByLaptopType, ByDesktopType
Packages001=PS100012:Install Cisco VPN Client

Figure 1. The Gather action in the task sequence reading the rules

Reason #2: MDT Adds an Operating System Deployment Simulation Environment
The MDT rules, again the settings that the task sequence is using, can be tested very quickly. With MDT integration, you can simulate a deployment in about five seconds flat, without having to actually deploy a machine. This is a great timesaver in a deployment project, and very easy to set up.

Quick steps: Copy your rules (your CustomSettings.ini file) and a few files that MDT provides to a folder, and then run the ZTIGather.wsf script. After about five seconds, you will see the result of your “deployment” in the console and in the ZTIgather.log file.

Figure 2. The folder containing the rules, a few scripts from MDT, and a custom script (Gather.ps1)

For more details on setting up and use this simulation environment, check out Save time (and avoid pain) - Create a MDT simulation environment.

Reason #3: MDT Adds Real-Time Monitoring
With MDT integration you can follow your deployments in real-time and, if you have access to DaRT, you can even remote into WinPE during deployment. The real-time monitoring data can be viewed from within the MDT Deployment Workbench via a web browser, via Windows PowerShell, via the Event Viewer, or via Excel 2013. In fact, any script or application that can read an ODATA feed can read the information.

Figure 3. Viewing the real-time monitoring data using Windows PowerShell

Reason #4: MDT Offers an Optional Deployment Wizard
Every now and then I bump in to a customer who wants to prompt for things during operating system deployment; for example, the computer name or what organizational unit to put the machine into or what applications that should be installed by the task sequence. With MDT integration, you can enable the User-Driven Installation (UDI) wizard, and you can customize the wizard via the UDI Designer.

The optional UDI wizard in action during a deployment

Reason #5 – #280: MDT Solves Issues You Didn’t Even Know You Had
MDT 2013 simply extends Configuration Manager 2012 R2 with so many useful operating system deployment components that I cannot fathom doing Configuration Manager operating system deployment without it. Over the years I have met many customers who did not want to do the integration because, as they put it, “MDT adds complexity to the environment.” The exact opposite is true. By providing well-proven, supported solutions, MDT reduces the complexity of operating system deployment in Configuration Manager. Hence, even though I have met many customers who did not want to use MDT initially, I have not met a single one that I haven’t been able to convince to use it after I demonstrated the value that MDT adds to Configuration Manager.

Still not convinced? Check out the live Windows 8.1 Deployment Jump Start on Wednesday, March 12th or, if you have any questions from this article, feel free to reach out to me through my blog at Happy deployment!

Johan Arwidmark

Johan Arwidmark is the Chief Technical Architect with Knowledge Factory. He is a consultant, author, and all-around geek specializing in enterprise Windows deployment solutions. His areas of expertise include: enterprise Windows deployment tools and solutions, MDT, and WinPE.


Internet Explorer & Modern Web Standards
Modern web applications require support for the latest web standards. With Internet Explorer 11, we have delivered our most standards-compliant browser ever, including extensive support for industry standards such as HTML5, CSS3, SVG, WebGL, and ECMAScript. We are committed to modern web standards and work closely with standards bodies like the W3C and Ecma International to help develop these standards and bring them to the marketplace through programs like the Internet Explorer Testing Center.

Test cases from the Internet Explorer Testing Center

While any browser can claim to support some or all of a specification, the test results from a comprehensive test suite are the best way to determine which browsers will render the same markup consistently. Microsoft created and maintains over 8,700 test cases that are shared with web standards organizations and the public, to ensure standards-based consistency across the ecosystem. Great standards support in Internet Explorer means that when you build sites based on modern web standards, your sites will work across browsers and devices that have adopted these industry standards. Building on HTML5 with Internet Explorer is the best way to develop for your business, today and tomorrow.

Another great resource is http – //, which contains tools, guidance, demos, and other resources to help update web sites to modern standards. There are free virtual machines for Windows, Mac, and Linux, as well as a compatibility scanner that works both online and offline. If you haven’t checked lately, it’s worth a visit!

In other news, as Joe Belfiore mentioned at Mobile World Congress, Microsoft is enhancing support for enterprise customers by improving Internet Explorer 8 compatibility in Internet Explorer 11. This is especially critical for web-based line of business applications, which may be standardized on older versions of Internet Explorer. Stay tuned for more information in the coming months, and please attend my TechEd North America session WIN-B320 for a deep dive on Internet Explorer application compatibility.

Fred Pullen

Fred Pullen is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Internet Explorer. Fred joined Microsoft in 2003 as a TechNet and TS2 presenter, and most recently was a product planner for Windows Phone. He’s been checking email daily since 1983, but swears he can quit any time.


Marcelo de Moraes SincicThis Month's Spotlight – @marcelosincic
Marcelo de Moraes Sincic is a four-time Microsoft MVP in System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management as well as a Principal Consultant with Dell Computers do Brasil. He has been working in IT since 1987, when he started his professional career in development and database administration. Marcelo specializes in designing and implementing Microsoft Private Cloud, System Center Configuration Manager, and Windows infrastructure solutions including Hyper-V.

If you would like to be considered for this column, email us at and tell us why, in 140 characters or less, why we should feature you next month. Also, for the latest information on what’s going on here at Microsoft, follow the Springboard Series @MSSpringboard.


TechEd North America 2014 – Start Building Your Schedule Today
May 12-15, 2014 – Houston, Texas
TechEd is your opportunity to explore innovative Microsoft technologies in an immersive, hands-on environment. Choose from hundreds of sessions and build your personal schedule to get the most from your week. Expand your understanding of important trends in operating system deployment and management, cloud computing, application architecture, data analysis, and more. You’ll see first-hand how Microsoft is delivering a unified platform for modern business. Register today, and we’ll see you in Houston May 12–15!


The following resources will be released in March on the Windows Client TechCenter

Step-by-step guidance on protecting BitLocker-encrypted devices from attacks

Guidance on the volume activation of Windows 8.1

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MARCH 2014

In This Issue


New Resources


Windows Tip of the Month


Something to Blog About


Tips and Tricks


Community Update


Internet Explorer IT Corner


Tweet Alert


Events and Training


Sneak Peek: For Insiders Only

In This Issue


Application Compatibility


Security and Control




Performance and Hardware Compatibility


Training and Certification


Licensing and Volume Activation

In This Issue


Springboard Series


Extreme Windows Blog

In This Issue


Windows 8.1 Enterprise Evaluation


What’s New in Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals


Windows 8.1 FAQ


Windows 8 Jump Start


Plan for Windows 8.1


Deploy Windows 8.1


Windows 8.1 IT Pro Forums

In This Issue


Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7


Deploying Windows 7 from A to Z


Small and Midsize Business Guide


Support and Troubleshooting

In This Issue


E-book: Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals


Windows 8: Plain & Simple


Windows 8 for Tablets: Plain & Simple


Windows 8 Step by Step


Windows 8 Administration Pocket Consultant


Troubleshoot and Optimize Windows 8: Inside Out


Windows Internals, Sixth Edition, Part 1


Windows Internals, Sixth Edition, Part 2


Windows Administration Resource Kit: Productivity Solutions for IT Professionals

In This Issue


Microsoft Virtual Academy


Microsoft Tech Showcase


Register for the TechNet Flash Newsletter


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