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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Thoughts on ‘the art of removing’ for Image Building

At one of my projects I was asked to facilitate the Image Building process to allow the customer to create their reference images. The tooling is already configured and the customer is able to create their reference images. MDT 2013 is used to build the reference images, these are the x86 and x64 editions of Windows 8.1 Enterprise.

It is generally recommended, not only by me but by Microsoft as well (and a bunch of well-known MVPs), to use MDT 2013 for Image Building. It is also well-known that two strategies exist:

  • Thick image strategy: building an image and include the application baseline (including updates)
  • Thin image strategy: building an image without any baseline applications (including updates)

Most of the time, organizations want to have some baseline applications such as Microsoft Office. Just for giggles, I call it a ‘beer-belly’ image J

So far so good. However, at the particular project the customers asked me to remove some apps for users. In this case, they’re using the Google Cloud tools and wanted all Bing based apps removed from the image.

After some digging, I found a script created by The Deployment Guys which allowed me to achieve this goal. I used this script as a reference to have the defined set of built-in apps removed. The script is available at the following blog post:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/deploymentguys/archive/2013/10/21/removing-windows-8-1-built-in-applications.aspx

The script works like a charm, I can even use it in Configuration Manager as part of my deployment.

The actual challenge for removing the built-in apps is when to remove them. To me, only two moments are available:

  • During Image Building, prior to image capture
  • During Operating System Deployment, after the image has been applied

After some consideration, I recommended to have the built-in apps removed during Operating System Deployment. In this scenario the amount of customization remains low. It also gives me the flexibility when the decision to have these apps removed will be revoked or modified. All I need to do then is to modify the script, not rebuilding the reference images or create applications in Configuration Manager to have them reinstalled.

In a Task Sequence it can look like this.

You can compare it to a sculptor who is hacking away the material to get the desired shape. The sculptor will have a hard time if he removed too much material…

As usual, if you try this out yourself, then please use a test environment before deploying this in a production environment.

 

 

 

 

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Updating Windows 8.1 with August 2014 Rollup Update, an easy way…

As many people, Microsoft included, have already let the world know the August 2014 Rollup Update for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 has become available it gave me the opportunity to immediately prepare new images which includes this rollup. All you need to do nowadays is follow some people on Twitter and you have a whole forest full of tweets which makes it hard to miss 😉

At my current project, I’m facilitating a migration from Windows XP to Windows 8.1 using System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager. Since I’m in the middle of preparing everything, it allowed to me rebuild these images with the new rollup. I use Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2013 to build the images which will be deployed using Configuration Manager.

You can find more information about the Rollup Update at the following location:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2975719

The article states that two options are available to deploying this update rollup:

  1. Using Microsoft Update
  2. Downloading the Updates itself.

I’ve decided to go for option 2 which gives me a bit more control in injecting this update.

I’ve imported the update files and imported them in the Update Package specified.

 

Using this method allows me to create and manage Selection Profiles which makes it bit easier to control which hotfixes need to be deployed.

When importing is completed I can add them in the Task Sequence.

I’ve decided to install this Rollup before the Windows Update (Post-Application Installation) to make sure the updates included in this rollup are not installed first.

Well, that’s basically it. All that needs to be done is running the Task Sequence and capture new images.

 

As usual, please test this method yourself before running this in a production environment. I am aware more options exist but I like this one a lot.

UPDATE: Microsoft has revoked this update rollup. While the method used can be used for other update rollups or any other update/hotfix with a .msu file type, you should not deploy this update or revoke the update if already deployed

 

 
 
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