Microsoft isn’t really ready to talk about this stuff yet (unfortunately) but as a System Center guy one my recent thoughts was “I wonder what MS used to deploy Windows 8 onto all those slates at Build?”.
I recall at TechEd Australia 2009 when MS used the pre-release of MDT 2010 to deploy Windows 7 and Office 2010 onto the netbooks which the delegates received, and it was probably sommething similar – either functionality within MDT or maybe even SCCM.
And, as it turns out, SCCM 2012 will quite happily deploy Windows 8 without breaking a sweat.
In my SCCM 20120 lab environment (running beta 2 at present) I imported the INSTALL.WIM from the x64 version of the Windows 8 Developer Preview ISO and set up a basic OSD task sequence to deploy the OS, join the domain and install the SCCM 2012 client:
I booted the workstation from a pre-existing x64 SCCM 2012 boot ISO – didn’t need to make any changes to the WinPE environment – and it picked up the deployment happily:
Once complete, the workstation started the OOBE, first with the product key prompt (which I skipped over):
Next the logon screen. As this was a domain-joined workstation I didn’t want to sign in with a Live ID, so hit “Don’t want to log on with a Windows Live ID?” and then “Local Account” on the next screen:
Once I selected “Local Account”, the OSD moved in the “Finalising Settings” stage, during which the SCCM 2012 client was installed:
And that’s the end of the process. The new workstation is joined to the domain, so you’re prompted to hit CTRL-ALT-DEL rather than swipe the start background screen, and then for domain credentials:
And then finally we’re logged on. Taking a look in the Control Panel, we can see that the CM client is installed and talking to the site, and that the Software Center is working too.
It’s worth noting that because the Software Catalog (for user application deployments) is a Silverlight application, it doesn’t work in the Metro IE10 interface – you will have to go into IE10 from the Windows Desktop for that functionality. It will be interesting to see whether the interface is redesigned to accommodate IE10 Metro, or whether that will, instead, support SilverLight in the future.
Looking back at the workstation details in the SCCM 2012 admin console, we can see that the workstation is reporting back correctly, and that SCCM picks up the operating system as “Windows NT Workstation 6.2″ (which is the major kernel revision of Windows 8), which is good to know for creating custom collections and queries based around the OS type/version.
Of course, this was a very basic deployment, but I really didn’t expect it to work as completely as it did. There was always the chance that Microsoft had made some structural changes which would require an updated WAIK or WinPE boot image to accommodate Windows 8 deployment (which would have been unsurprising, really).
So, it’s very gratifying to see just how robust the platform is, even in pre-beta. It will be interesting to see whether MDT 2010 Update 1 and/or SCCM 2007 can also deploy Windows 8 with just ease. Of course, we will start to see updated versions of deployment tools soon to allow admins to customise the deployment experience, which is something which enterprise always needs. But as a start, it’s highly encouraging.