When I first started looking into using Microsoft’s own deployment tools to deploy Windows 7 I have to admit that it was a bit intimidating. There were all these tools, xml answer files, individual programs, deployment shares, .wim’s, it just got insane.
I was used to the good ol’ Ghost tools that I’ve been familiar with for all these years. However, I was well aware that the limitations of Ghost in the area of storage space (regarding the individual images that needed to be stored for each type of machine that you were imaging) and the fact that updates couldn’t be added to the images after they had been created (well, easily anyway), so I set out to look into the MS tools that they were boasting about.
It was then, when I realized I might have bit off more than I can chew. Luckily though, I found MDT2010. They call it a “solution accelerator”. Probably because it would take about a month or more of digging through white pages and technical documents to figure out what the hell all the tools were and how to make them all work together without it.
Anyway, if you are starting to look for cheap / free easy ways to deploy a bunch of Windows 7 machines with applications and updates already included, and want all of your machines to be exactly the same, take a look at MDT 2010.
There’s a good how-to guide setup here: http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles_tutorials/Deploying-Windows-7-Part5.html