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Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment

The Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy is for medium-sized organizations that have an information technology (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 Windows Server.

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

Such organizations can benefit from the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010, which is a solution accelerator that is available at no cost. MDT 2010 contains thousands of lines of code that were developed by Microsoft employees, partners, and customers. You can use this code to provide a deployment framework for Windows operating systems, which enables you to focus on your business, not on programming.

About the Strategy

Customers can use MDT 2010 for Lite-Touch deployments or Zero-Touch deployments. For medium-sized organizations that lack the necessary infrastructure for Zero-Touch deployments, Lite-Touch deployment is the best choice. Using MDT 2010 for a Lite-Touch deployment requires no more infrastructure than most medium-sized organizations already have (a file server is the only infrastructure requirement).

Using MDT 2010 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 2010 with the Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy include:

  • Fewer problems, because configurations are consistent across all client computers.

  • Easier deployment, because MDT 2010 handles application, device driver, and update installation.

  • Streamlined maintenance, because updating applications, device drivers, and updates is easy.


MDT 2010 supports thin and thick imaging. Thin imaging refers to deploying a Windows 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.
We recommend using thin images because it helps reduce maintenance time and costs. MDT 2010 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:

  • Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit

  • Volume-licensed (VL) media provided by Microsoft

  • MDT 2010

  • Windows User State Migration Toolkit (USMT)

  • Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT)

  • Windows AIK

  • File server on which to store the distribution share

  • One of the following:

    • Media with which to start client computers during deployment

    • A server configured with the Windows Deployment Services role

Strategy Limitations

The Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy doesn’t have any significant limitations for medium-sized organizations, although it does require limited interaction at the beginning of installation. As medium-sized organizations mature, however, they can easily extend MDT 2010 to provide a nearly zero-touch experience by doing nothing more than configuring a database and deploying the Windows Deployment Services role. Eliminating user interaction with the deployment process by automating application installation and operating system configuration helps reduce deployment and support costs.

Deployment Process

The following table 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.

Step More Information

1. If your organization is deploying a new version of Windows, determine your organization’s readiness for the new version by using the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit.

Microsoft Assessment and Planning 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.

Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) Version 5.5

3. Prepare the infrastructure for MDT 2010 by creating a file server for the distribution shared resource. Optionally, install and configure the Windows Deployment Services role in Windows Server 2008 R2. Starting client computers by using Windows Deployment Services is the easiest way to start a network deployment.

4. Install MDT 2010 on the file server along with additional components, including the USMT.

5. Create a distribution share that contains operating systems, applications, device drivers, and updates.

Microsoft Deployment Workbench Imaging Guide

6. In MDT 2010, create and customize a task sequence for each configuration that you want to deploy. Task sequences have instructions for installing and configuring Windows.

Modifying Task Sequences

7. In MDT 2010, create and update a deployment point. Deployment points describe how to connect to the files in the distribution shared resource (or a copy of those files). By customizing the deployment point, you can specify to what extent users interact with MDT 2010 during deployment. Updating a deployment point creates Windows PE images that you use to start client computers during deployment.

Preparing the Deployment Environment

8. Create a device to start the Windows PE image by preparing a removable storage device with the images created by MDT 2010 when you update a deployment point. Optionally, add the Windows PE image to Windows Deployment Services, which makes starting the image quick and easy during deployment.

Walkthrough: Create a Bootable Windows PE RAM Disk

9. Start each client computer by using the Windows PE image, and then follow the instructions to log on to the distribution shared resource, choose a task sequence, and install Windows.

Running the Windows Deployment Wizard