Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment

Applies to: Windows 8.1, Windows 8

In this series:

The Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy that Figure 1 depicts is for medium-sized organizations that have an IT staff and sometimes use partners to help with technology adoption. Organizations that use this strategy have 200–500 client computers and at least one location with more than 25 users. They usually have managed networks in distributed locations that are running a Windows Server operating system.

Figure 1. Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment Strategy

Medium-sized organizations often assemble their own deployment solutions by using the tools and technologies that Microsoft provides for the Windows 8.1 operating system. These solutions typically include combinations of answer files, scripts, the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK), and so on.

Such organizations can benefit from the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT), which is available at no cost. MDT contains thousands of lines of code that Microsoft employees, partners, and customers have developed. You can use this code to provide a deployment framework for Windows operating systems (for example, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and earlier versions of Windows), which enables you to focus on your business, not on programming.

About the strategy

Customers can use MDT for Lite-Touch Installation (LTI) or User-Driven Installation (UDI) deployment. (UDI deployment is similar to LTI deployment but it is based on Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager.) For medium-sized organizations that lack the necessary infrastructure for UDI or ZTI deployments, LTI deployment is the best choice. Using MDT for an LTI deployment requires no more infrastructure than most medium-sized organizations already have (a file server is the only infrastructure requirement). LTI does not require Configuration Manager.

Using MDT for the Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy streamlines deployment and reduces support costs by providing a more consistent configuration with fewer support calls—all without requiring a significant investment in infrastructure.

Benefits of using MDT with the Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy include:

  • Fewer problems, because configurations are consistent across all client computers
  • Easier deployment, because MDT handles application, device driver, and update installation
  • Streamlined maintenance, because updating applications and device drivers is easy
  • Scales as your business grows, so you can easily extend MDT to provide a nearly zero-touch experience by doing nothing more than configuring a database and deploying the Windows Deployment Services server role
note icon Note: MDT supports thin and thick imaging. Thin imaging refers to deploying a Windows 8.1 image with little or no customization, and then automatically or manually installing applications, device drivers, and updates on each client computer. Thick imaging refers to customizing an image with applications, device drivers, and updates before deploying it. Microsoft recommends using thin images, because they help reduce maintenance time and costs. MDT makes using thin images with the Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy easy. In fact, this strategy advocates thin images.

Strategy requirements

The following elements are required to use the Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy:

Windows 8.1 Microsoft Volume Licensing media provided by Microsoft

Windows ADK


File server on which to store the deployment share

One of the following:

  • Media with which to start client computers during deployment
  • A server configured with the Windows Deployment Services server role

Windows User State Migration Tool (included in the Windows ADK)

Optionally, Configuration Manager and its prerequisites for UDI deployment

Optionally, the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT; included in the Windows ADK)

Optionally, Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit

Strategy limitations

The Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy doesn’t have any significant limitations for medium-sized organizations, although it does require a file server. It also requires limited interaction at the beginning of installation.

As medium-sized organizations mature, they can easily extend MDT to provide a nearly zero-touch experience by creating an MDT database and deploying the Windows Deployment Services server role. Eliminating user interaction with the deployment process by automating application installation and operating system configuration helps reduce deployment and support costs.

Deployment process

Table 1 describes the high-level deployment process for using the Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy. The left column describes the step, and the right-column contains links to detailed information about completing that step.

Table 1. Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment Strategy

Step More information
1. Determine your organization’s readiness for Windows 8.1 by using the MAP Toolkit.
2. Use the ACT to prioritize your organization’s applications, determine your compatibility status, and consolidate applications. The ACT can help organizations triage and remediate applications that have compatibility problems.

3. Prepare the infrastructure for MDT by setting up a file server for the deployment share. Optionally, install and configure:

  • Configuration Manager with MDT integration for UDI deployment.
  • The Windows Deployment Services server role in Windows Server. Starting client computers by using Windows Deployment Services is the easiest way to start a network deployment.
4. Install MDT on the file server along with additional components, including the Windows ADK.
5. Create a deployment share. Add to the deployment share the Windows 8.1 source files plus the applications, device drivers, and updates that you want to include.
6. In MDT (or Configuration Manager for UDI deployment), create and customize a task sequence for each configuration that you want to deploy. Task sequences describe steps for installing and configuring Windows 8.1 on a client computer.
7. In MDT (or Configuration Manager for UDI deployment), customize the deployment content to configure user interaction with MDT during installation. Then, update the deployment content to build the boot images you will use to start client computers during deployment.
8. Create a device to start the boot image by preparing a removable storage device with the image MDT created when you update a deployment share. Optionally, add the boot image to Windows Deployment Services, which makes starting the boot image quick and easy during deployment.
9. Start each client computer by using the boot device or Windows Deployment Services, and then follow the instructions to choose a task sequence, provide deployment information, and install Windows 8.1.

Additional resources