“The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) provides a unified collection of tools, processes, and guidance for automating desktop and server deployments. In addition to reducing deployment time and standardizing desktop and server images, MDT offers improved security and ongoing configuration management.”Microsoft
The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) has been around since 2003, when it was first introduced as Business Desktop Deployment (BDD). I was actual on of the authors of an early version of BDD. Since then, it has evolved significantly and today it is a common toolset in the deployment of Windows operating system and enterprise applications.
MDT is a collection of several free tools. Though there are similarities, it is overall less user-friendly than SCCM and is not for the fait of heart. MDT performs deployments by using the Lite Touch Installation (LTI), Zero Touch Installation (ZTI), and User-Driven Installation (UDI) deployment methods. Of these methods, only LTI utilizes MDT alone, while ZTI and UDI deployments are performed using MDT along with SCCM.
Other toolkits often used in conjunction with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (and also provided free) are:
- Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT)
- Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit
- Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK)
- User State Migration Toolkit (USMT)
As the actual functions of the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit are very straight-forward, I’ll focus below on two key components of MDT as opposed to the features of this “product”.
Key things to know
The Deployment Workbench
When using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, much of the administration and configuration is done through the Deployment Workbench. Preparing operating systems and applications for deployment, configuring a driver repository and more are key functions of the Deployment Workbench. As with an increasing number of Microsoft management solutions, it leverages PowerShell to perform actions on the back end. Therefore everything you can do in the Deployment Workbench can actually be done by PowerShell. Very handy is the ability to use the Deployment Workbench to perform an operation and at the end of that task, click View Script to view how to perform the same using PowerShell.
Task Sequence Editor
Task sequences consist of a combined series of steps that are designed to complete an action. Task sequences can operate across a computer restart and can be configured to automate tasks on a computer without requiring user intervention. In addition, you can add task sequence steps to a task sequence group, which helps keep similar task sequence steps together for better organization and error control. Task sequence steps accomplish their tasks by using utilities and scripts; your own or those provided with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit.
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