Why would Microsoft make such a simple thing so complicated?

Today I got an e-mail from a reader Blake, who was wondering why Microsoft would make imaging more complicated with MDT as opposed to the “simplicity” of basic disk cloning tools that were ubquitious over a decade ago.

Question: Why would Microsoft make such a simple thing that has been used for so many years so complicated?

Answer: Agreed, the complexity of MDT is quite intimidating, I must admit, the first time I opened MDT I had no idea where to even begin.

I’ve been using MDT for over two years here now and there’s no way I would go back to the nightmare of managing a single image for every single make and model. That wasn’t simple. That was hell. I would never go back to having to run windows updates by hand on a six month old image. That was not easy, that was a pain in the ass. I wouldn’t go back to installing one off applications by hand, that wasn’t simple, that was a chore. The dynamic driver injection, the windows updates, and the dynamic provisioning is really hard to beat. When I worked for Xerox I reduced their image count from over twelve to two, one for 32bit and one for 64 bit, it was beautiful, long gone are the days when you’re maintaining dozens and dozens of images. Again, today I have one 32bit win7 image, and one 64 bit image, that’s beautiful.

Understand, that back in the early days of Windows XP there were no Microsoft tools, there was sysprep, and that’s as far as Microsoft would take you, but that all changed with the release of Vista, which was released with the first version of the AIK. MDT was still called the Business Desktop Deployment Kit (BDD), but by the release of Vista SP1, it was rebranded as MDT.

Now, for the Thick vs. Thin image debate… Fans of thick images say that they’re faster, and fans of thin images say they’re more flexible at the expense of speed. I honestly don’t like either. I’m a big fan of the “hybrid” image.

Seriously, take what’s good about thick images (speed) and what’s good about thin images (flexibility) and you can have your cake and it too. Build the image in a VM with MDT and the cost of maintaining your images is cut exponentially.

Here’s what I recommend to lots of people; Put Office, C++ runtimes, and DotNetFramework in your image, along with the windows and office updates, but keep Java and Flash out (they’re easy to add back in as they get updated which is weekly.)

SEE: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/confirmation.aspx?id=6157

I also suspect that you’re missing the real benefit of using hybrid images with MDT and that is the flexibility. I personally have to support a call center, accounting, marketing, sales, lending, human resources and an accounting department. I don’t have the time to build ten different images for all the departments I support, so I build a pretty generic image that has office, c++ runtimes, silverlight, etc… and then I use MDT’s wizard to let me customize what apps I install at deploy time, and that my friend is what separates a tool like MDT from a toy like clonezilla.

For more questions and answers: See the Ask MDT Guy Page