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Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 Released

Microsoft on Thursday released the latest version of its toolkit for deploying Windows systems and applications.

The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012, available here, is a no-cost tool for IT pros that's available from the company's "solution accelerators" series. It can be used in conjunction with the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit and Security Compliance Manager, which also are part of the solution accelerators series of free tools for Windows environments.

Not a whole lot appears to have changed since a beta of the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 was released in June. However, users can deploy the Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 betas using the new toolkit in lab environments for testing purposes. In addition, the toolkit taps System Center Configuration Manager 2012 technology to support customized operating system deployments that are zero touch, according to Microsoft's download page description.

The Windows operating systems that can be deployed using the toolkit include "Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista Service Pack 2, Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2, Windows Server 2003 R2, [and] Windows XP Service Pack 3," according to Microsoft.

The toolkit was originally created in 2003 to help users install Windows XP, according to Michael Niehaus, a senior software development engineer on the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit team, in a Microsoft video. It provides a workbench and wizards to simplify the deployment process. He described the 2012 version of the tool as riding the System Center Configuration Manager wave, adding better integration, as well as adding features for those not using Configuration Manager. There's also integration with the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolkit (DaRT).

"MDT by itself gives you Lite Touch deployments," Niehaus explained in the video. "So it's designed so that an IT pro can set it all up on a single machine and then be able to generate boot media, generate the necessary scripts so that a desktop technician can go from machine to machine and initiate an OS deployment. Either taking an existing operating system and refreshing it to say, 'Windows 7,' or, in the case of a new computer, deploying an operating system to that new computer."

The goal, however, is zero-touch deployments, he emphasized.

In addition to supporting OS deployments, Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 can be used for Office 2010 deployments. It provide "comprehensive tools and guidance to efficiently manage large-scale deployments of Microsoft Office 2010," according to a Microsoft blog post. It can do any app or utility installation that can be described in command form, Niehaus explained.

Using the toolkit requires one machine running Windows client or server, .NET 3.5.1 and the Windows Automation Installation Kit (a free download), according to Niehaus.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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