What is MDT?

The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2013 is the latest (and greatest) release of Microsoft’s free imaging and provisioning toolkit for automating systems deployments. MDT sits on top of the Microsoft Assessment and Deployment Kit, automating these command line tools so you don’t have to map to a share, copy scripts and format disks by hand. MDT builds images, captures images, deploys and configures operating systems, as well as drivers, and installs applications dynamically.

If you haven’t worked with MDT 2013 before, you’re in for a real treat. It’s the seventh generation of Microsoft’s set of tools for IT pros to roll out operating systems, and it’s unlike anything else I’ve had the privilege of working with.

MDT is more than just an imaging system, it’s an automated deployment platform. It’s the missing link between the AIK tools we all struggled with when trying to deploy Vista and the WDS role in server 2008. Since it uses the nondestructive file based .wim image format, you can leverage the HAL independent feature, and truly build one image to rule them all.

Learning MDT is highly rewarding. Even though it takes some time to get the hang of it and get it all set up, it really pays off when you have a finished deployment solution. Once you fully understand the system, you can have just one baseline image, and apply all the apps and drivers dynamically on the fly after you lay down an image. A well tuned MDT lite touch configuration can install the OS, name the PC, inject drivers, join to the domain, install all needed apps, activate office, and reboot in less than an hour with almost no interaction required from whoever is kicking off the deployment.

Part of the reason Vista got such a bad rap was because people kept trying to deploy it with the old imaging tools from the Windows 95 days, but I assure you, once you kick these old habits and learn how to perform truly automated OS installs, you’ll never look back. Check out my getting started section here and my building windows 8 images guide here.

For more information on MDT, check out Microsoft’s page: http://microsoft.com/mdt