What's New in Windows Deployment Services

Applies To: Windows Server 2008 R2

What are the major changes?

The following changes to Windows Deployment Services are available in Windows Server 2008 R2:

  • Dynamic driver provisioning. The ability to deploy driver packages to client computers as part of an installation, and the ability to add driver packages to boot images prior to deployment. For details, see Dynamic driver provisioning later in this topic.

  • Virtual hard disk deployment. The ability to deploy virtual hard disk (.vhd) images as part of an unattended installation. For details, see Virtual hard disk deployment later in this topic.

  • Additional multicasting functionality. The ability to automatically disconnect slow clients and divide transmissions into multiple streams based on client speeds. Also provides support for multicasting in environments that use IPv6.

  • PXE provider for Transport Server. Includes a PXE provider when you install the Transport Server role service. You can use Transport Server to network boot, multicast data, or both as part of an advanced configuration. Transport Server is a stand-alone server. That is, when you use Transport Server for network booting and multicasting, your environment does not need Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) or Domain Name System (DNS). For instructions, see the Configuring Transport Server topic.

  • Additional EFI functionality. Supports network booting of x64-based computers with EFI, including Auto-add functionality, DHCP referral to direct clients to a specific PXE server, and the ability to deploy boot images by using multicasting.

For a chart that shows the differences in all the versions of Windows Deployment Services, see Windows Deployment Services: What’s New (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=140114).

Who will be interested in these features?

The following groups might be interested in these changes:

  • Deployment specialists who are responsible for the deployment of Windows operating systems

  • IT planners, designers, or analysts who are evaluating Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2

What new functionality does this role provide?

This section contains details about dynamic driver provisioning and .vhd deployment in this release.

Dynamic driver provisioning

In Windows Server 2008 R2, you can add and configure driver packages on a server that is running Windows Deployment Services. After you have added the driver packages to the server, you can do the following:

  • Deploy driver packages to client computers based on the hardware of the client as part of an installation.


This functionality is only available when you are installing images of the following operating systems: Windows Vista with SP1, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2.

  • Add driver packages (such as network adapter drivers, mass storage drivers, and bus drivers) to your Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 boot images.

For instructions, see Managing and Deploying Driver Packages (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=143313).

Why is this change important?

This new functionality provides the following benefits:

  • Eliminates the need to add driver packages manually by using the tools in the Windows Automated Installation Kit.

  • Minimizes the size of install images.

  • Makes it easier to update and manage drivers because the drivers are stored outside the images.

  • Eliminates the need to maintain multiple images for different hardware configurations.

  • Eliminates the need for additional tools to manage drivers (for example, the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) or non-Microsoft solutions).

  • Eliminates the need to use an Unattended installation file to add drivers.

How should I prepare for this change?

The following are prerequisites for driver package provisioning:

  • A Windows Deployment Services server that is configured with the following:

    • The boot image from Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 (from \Sources\Boot.wim on the installation DVD).

    • Install images for Windows Vista SP1, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, or Windows Server 2008 R2.

  • Driver packages for the hardware that you want to deploy. Note that these packages must be extracted (that is, the package cannot be a .msi or .exe file).

Virtual hard disk deployment

You can deploy .vhd images of Windows Server 2008 R2 to a physical computer (not a virtual machine) by using Windows Deployment Services. In general, you deploy .vhd images in the same way that you deploy .wim images. This scenario is intended for advanced users who already have .vhd images. For instructions, see Deploying Virtual Hard Disk Images (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=146973).

Why is this change important?

This new functionality provides the following benefits:

  • Allows you to standardize .vhd as your common image format. Previously, you had to manage operating system images in the .vhd format for virtual machines and in the .wim format for physical computers.

  • Simplifies image deployment by enabling physical computers to boot from .vhd images.

  • Allows you to provision a server with multiple .vhd images and switch between the images with ease. You can create multiple .vhd images that are customized for different roles and deploy them all to a single server. Then, if the balance of workloads changes in the data center (for example, you want to reallocate a computer running Microsoft SQL Server to be a Web server), you can boot into the .vhd for that role instead of reinstalling the operating system.

  • Allows you to roll back changes when you use differencing disks.

What works differently?

Using WDSUTIL at the command line is the only supported method of adding and configuring the images. In addition, the deployment must be part of an automated installation, so you must create and configure two unattend files to automate the installation.

How should I prepare for this change?

To deploy .vhd images, you need the following:

  • A Windows Deployment Services server that is configured at least one boot image.

  • Familiarity with the WDSUTIL command-line tool because this is the only way to import and configure .vhd images.

  • A supported .vhd image. The only supported operating systems are Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 7 Enterprise, and Windows 7 Ultimate. Fixed, dynamic, and differencing .vhd images are supported. However, note that a supported image cannot contain the following:

    • More than one operating system.

    • More than one partition.

    • Applications or data (instead of an operating system).

    • A 64-bit edition of the Windows that is partitioned with a GUID partition table (GPT).

Which editions include these features?

These features are available in all editions.