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Microsoft Explains Windows 10 Imaging Rights in SmartDeploy Talk

Microsoft explained a bit how imaging works under its Volume Licensing program during a recent SmartDeploy online presentation.

Seattle-based SmartDeploy makes Windows and application deployment solutions for IT pros that promise to simplify the upgrade process. Its Tuesday Web presentation included guest speaker Chris Le Texier, a Microsoft senior project manager and regular commentator at Spiceworks forum discussions. The 30-minute SmartDeploy talk, "3 Signs You're Ready for Windows 10," is currently available on demand here.

In a nutshell, the three main signs indicating that organizations are ready for Windows 10 include having security as a priority, having aging PC hardware that's due for replacement and being proactive vs. reactive with regard to maintaining computing environments, according to Erik Nymark, director of engineering at SmartDeploy, during the talk.

On the second point regarding replacing old hardware, Nymark noted that Intel didn't write Windows 7 drivers for its new set of chips (Kaby Lake), and so Windows 10 use becomes a consideration.

Imaging Rights
Microsoft's Le Texier noted that organizations should start planning for Windows 10 upgrades, which can be performed via "in-place" upgrades or the more traditional "wipe-and-load" approach. Microsoft provides a few free tools to that end. There's a Windows 10 Deployment and Management Lab Kit that provides a free 90-day trial, he noted.

Organizations that purchase Volume Licensing agreements with Windows 10 will have the ability to create a "golden image" that will make it easier to deploy the operating system across a computing environment. This Volume License media also gives organizations the rights to reimage and install the operating system, Le Texier added.

A Volume Licensing agreement is not expensive, Le Texier claimed. He said that organizations must buy at least one Windows 10 Pro Upgrade License under the Open Licensing or Open Value subscription license to create the Volume Licensing golden image media (which is known as having "reimaging rights"). The other four licenses purchased under Open Licensing or Open Value can be any other license under that Volume Licensing agreement, he added. Once that licensing is in place, then it's possible to use SmartDeploy's solution, or any other deployment product, to deploy Windows images.

"You need to purchase your new devices and your new device with a Windows 10 Pro license on it," Le Texier clarified in response to a question. "The only requirement then to create your golden image for deploying is one -- only one -- Windows 10 Pro Upgrade License through Volume Licensing. That's just to get you access to the media and key that are available behind the Microsoft Download Center, which is also the Volume License Service Center Web site. If you don't have an agreement right now, and you need to start up an Open Value license or Volume License agreement, you're needed to purchase five licenses under that Volume License agreement. Only one needs to be a Windows 10 Pro Upgrade License. The other four can be Office, your CALs or any other license under that Volume Licensing program to get you to five. No, you're not purchasing double licensing. You're just purchasing the one Windows 10 Pro Upgrade License to reimage all of your devices that are already licensed with Windows 10 Pro."

This perhaps obscure detail is described in Microsoft's "Reimaging Rights" licensing brief, which can be downloaded at this page. Microsoft defines "reimaging" as "the copying of software onto multiple devices from one consistent image." Le Texier also summarizes reimaging rights details in this Spiceworks post.

In a nutshell, organizations can get reimaging rights from original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Windows machines with the purchase of Volume Licensing agreements. However, there are some caveats, such as only being able to reimage using the same Windows product edition (although downgrade rights are available), and not being able to use an OEM image from one vendor across machines that shipped using another vendor's OEM image.

Microsoft's licensing brief also uses the word "reimaging" to mean the imaging of a PC that already underwent the imaging process. As described in the licensing brief, it seems that per-user Software Assurance and Windows Enterprise edition Volume Licensing is required to reimage an OEM Windows PC that already has been imaged. It wasn't a point that Le Texier addressed, though.

SmartDeploy's Approach
SmartDeploy is focused on simplifying the complicated jobs of IT pros, according to Aaron Suzuki, SmartDeploy's CEO and founder, during the talk. The company's support model provides answers to network and Active Directory problems. Phone, forum and e-mail support are provided.  The company is not venture-capital funded and currently has about 2,000 customers globally, he added.

Many of SmartDeploy's customers are IT generalists, it was explained during the talk. SmartDeploy's products let them create Windows golden images for deployments while the driver updates get handled separately through Platform Packs, which contain the drivers for specific PC models. The company's Web site claimed it has created 819 Platform Packs so far, although custom ones can get built, too.

"You can use multiple different Platform Packs in a single deployment," Nymark explained in response to question on how to deploy both UEFI and MBR at the same time and include MSU files and drivers. "Basically what happens is the hardware is detected and the correct Platform Pack is utilized for the operating system and device that you are deploying to. The same kind of [detection] goes for UEFI vs. MBR." He added that this process can be done all at the same time and will get figured out for you with SmartDeploy.

The SmartDeploy solution features "one click user migration" that pulls data over to the new desktop during an upgrade, according to Spencer Dunford, general manager at SmartDeploy. It also has "zero-touch push deployment" capabilities with wake-on-LAN built in, he added. It's possible to use virtualization to take an image of a reference computer and deploy it to other machines as WIM files, Dunford explained. Organizations with branches can multicast an image out if the product is installed on clients.

Cloud-based deployments are possible. A free or low-cost cloud storage environment can be used to publish media, Dunford added.

The SmartDeploy product is licensed on a per-machine basis. Users can make as many images or media that they want, Dunford said. The company provides support for at least one year, although additional maintenance support can be purchased. There's a 15-day free trial version of the product that's "fully functional," he added.

About the Author

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

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