Deployment best practices

Occasional Contributor


I would like to ask a question about the deployment process.


My organization is still struggling to come to grips with how best to deploy Windows 10.


We are an educational institution, so you may find 40 or more gigabytes worth of additional applications that we need to install in the image. What is your recommendation for a flowchart in how to handle this type of scenario?

18 Replies

This is a tough one.


Ideally, you would try to minimize the payload on every machine by only deploying what is needed. You could look into something like Software Center in Config Manager to enable a self service install of apps that are needed only for certain users. 


If you have a large set of machines that need many apps, building a reference image and deploying that would most likely turn out to be faster than installing all the apps after the deployment of the actual OS. You will end up with a very large reference image though.


One other thing you may want to consider is in-place upgrade since that would carry forward all of your installed apps. 

So in this case would you use MDT/SCCM to use task sequences to install everything on a single computer to setup a computer and then capture that image again with SCCM/MDT? 


Also, in regard to in place upgrades, do you have a link that walks you through that process? This is a very new resource for imaging.

That's right, here is some info on how to create a reference image with MDT:

You can then deploy the refence image with MDT or ConfigMgr.


Here is some info about in place upgrade

with MDT:

with ConfigMgr:

the first link (ref image) is broken (404) :(

I'm in the same situation, educational institution that requires a lot of specialized applications installed (Geography and Math apps are some of the largest).


In my case, I've been able to leverage MS App-V with SCCM to push out a lot of the smaller applications to my computers after imaging.  For some of the larger applications I use SCCM with application or package deployments.  There are still some apps that simply cannot be deployed after imaging either because of size and complexity or licensing issues.  Those I continue to add to my gold image and deploy them on the image.


Good Luck!



the first link, for creating reference image, links to a 404. Thank you

Can you try this? It looks like the community software does not like long links.

Thank you. That works. 


I am conflicted on what answer to mark as the best. Is there anyway to update the original answer with the various working links so that I can vote it as best answer?


Thank you again.

Also an education institution. My reference image is a modified stock image, only remove unwanted UWP apps, and add required components. All of the magic is done in the SCCM task sequence. Drivers per model are done by WMI query, common applications are installed as a group, site specific apps are also instead by checking computer name. Post image they will populate collections and install within an hour. We have very few manual installs.

You may want to check out this blog post to consider the benefits of thick images.

I disagree with your assumptions. 95% of the software applications we use are packaged and deployed through SCCM, including updates. We do not routinely re-image machines, only when a machine has completely failed is it re-imaged. There is no difference in a machine I imaged six months ago to a freshly imaged one.  If your workflow involves routine imaging then I could see the value in a thick image, but otherwise it is just extra work to maintain.

Maintaining the thick image isn't much extra work, it's automated.

May I ask:

  • How long does it take for a new machine to finish deployment?
  • How would you manage removing old software and upgrading with new versions, with tricky ones like SQL Server, Visual Studio, etc.?

I have the same question. I would like to clarify that I am coming from just using WDS and am trying to make the eventual move to SCCM and the short term move to MDT+WDS.


So when I am trying to deploy out AutoCAD, office, win 10 and possibly even SolidWorks, on the same image... well, let's just say that is why I am asking these questions.


also, two things....


Visual Studio installs and the whole office 2016 + Project and Visio.... would love to discuss this further through email along with some other educational imaging questions.


which brings me to the second question. Anybody interested in exchanging official emails? I feel like I am years behind on the use of MDT or SCCM. I am my tech are trying to make sure that we get it done right.


please PM me if you are interested. I will gladly reciprocate. Thanks.

Also, what about your 5% of applications that are not deployed with SCCM?

Since we have not used SCCM yet, I am not sure I understand. Are you saying that there are some applications that just will not work with SCCM deployments?
40 apps bring some challenge yes, and you have to calculate which is more important;
1. Faster deployment time of single machine
2. Dynamic (easy) management of apps in OSD

Then you will end up to;
1. Install all apps and capture image with B&C or manual capture. You will have full image (win) with static content.
2. Install all apps within Task Sequence during deployment. Your deployment time might be lot slower.

So the 5% of apps that we do not deploy are because they are usually single machine installations, where the time and effort into packaging up the app and building a collection and advertisement make it not worthwhile.  In general it takes thirty minutes to image a machine with all the core apps. Collections update hourly so within an hour or so after imaging any other apps that are targeted to the machine are deployed. Autodesk does a really nice job of making administrative installs painless, and their software is free for schools so double bonus. With Microsoft moving to a new build of Windows twice a year thick images are just not something that I would want to pursue.


But the great thing about SCCM is that you can go whichever way is best for your environment. PM me if you want.