What is REALLY new in MDT 2013 Update 1 Preview

As you probably seen the MDT 2013 Update 1 preview was released on March 2, the official announcement by Aaron Czechowski lists the below list of features:

  • Support for Windows 10 Technical Preview
  • A new ZTIUtility function, GetMajorMinorVersion
  • Split WIM support for UEFI media scenarios to avoid the 4GB limit (works but badly implemented in the console, see note further down for details).
  • Support for Windows 10 ADK Technical Preview, which is also a prerequisite for MDT 2013 Update 1 preview
  • Minor Updates to the Deployment Workbench

Note: MDT 2013 Update 1 Preview is for Lite Touch deployments only, don’t use with ConfigMgr 2012 R2.

Update 2015-03-27: To get support for Windows 10 build 10041 and Windows ADK 10 build 10041 you need to download Fixes for MDT 2013 Update 1 from the ConfigMgr Team blog.

So is that it? Maybe, let’s take a closer look 🙂

What’s still broken in the preview

Before diving into the new features, here is a list of some key things that still not work. I was kind of hoping more of the many known bugs would be fixed, but so far nope… Hopefully they will be fixed in the final release.

  • The Microsoft.BDD.MonitorService.exe.config still contains system.diagnostics that will literally kill any deployment server having a C:\Temp folder, and that is using the Monitoring feature.
    • Workaround: Modify the Microsoft.BDD.MonitorService.exe.config file per this article.
  • The PowerShell script output to create deployment shares automatically is still not correct.
    • Workaround: Use this syntax instead.
  • The PowerShell script output to create offline media automatically is still not correct.
    • Workaround: Use this syntax instead.
  • Deployment Workbench still crashes, and spikes the server CPU to 99 percent, when configuring a custom background for the boot image.
    • Workaround: Use PowerShell to configure the deployment share as explained in this post, or simply try a few times in the Workbench, only changing the custom background image, and only browsing for the file (don’t type in the text box).
  • Generating a catalog file for Windows 10 still fails, but that is really not MDT’s fault, it’s a known bug in the Windows 10 ADK Technical Preview.
    • Workaround: None, wait for a fix.
  • New Offline Media fails if the target folder does not exist.
    • Workaround: Create the target folder first, and make very sure Not to use a subfolder inside your deployment share. Create a folder outside of the deployment share.
  • Deployment fails if a virtual machine has multiple virtual disks
    • Workaround: Attach the extra virtual disks after deployment has completed.
  • Deployment fails if using a “fixed media” USB stick.
    • Workaround: Use an older and most likely slower USB stick instead, that not presents itself as fixed media, but instead as removable media.

Note: There is still much code in MDT 2013 Update 1 preview for XP / Vista / 2003 / 2008 deployments, even though some references was removed in this preview. It doesn’t really do any harm though, but it would be nice to see a complete cleanup. .


Minor Updates to the Deployment Workbench

Here is a list of the changes I’ve found in the Deployment Workbench:

  • The info in the main node, Deployment Workbench, is updated with the MDT 2013 Update 1 name, but all other info is utterly incorrect. Don’t read it.
  • Getting Started and Component nodes removed (which is great, because the function of getting components was really poor).
  • Windows platform selections for applications are updated with Windows 10 client and server platforms.
  • Install Roles and Features action now contains Windows 10 client and server settings.

The Windows 10 settings now available.


Updates to the task sequence templates

Here is a list of the changes I’ve found in the task sequence templates:

  • Capture Only Task Sequence: Condition removed on the Apply Windows PE (BCD) action
  • Standard Server Task Sequence: Condition removed on the Apply Windows PE (BCD) action

Updates to the Windows Deployment Wizard

Here is a list of the changes I’ve found in the Windows Deployment Wizard:

  • Most (but not all) panes and validation scripts updated with new version number
  • Validation scripts updated to use the new GetMajorMinorVersion function
  • Shortcut key label corrected for the User Credentials pane (credentials_enu.xml)
  • Shortcut key label corrected for the Deployment Summary pane (summary_definition_enu.xml)
  • Shortcut key label corrected for the Welcome pane (welcomewiz_choice.xml)
  • Conditions updated for the BitLocker pane (deploywiz_definition_enu.xml)

New Task Sequence engine

The standalone task sequence engine used by MDT 2013 Lite Touch has been upgraded to 5.0.7958.1000 which is the same as the ConfigMgr 2012 R2 (no CU’s) is using. This is major upgrade since the previous version used was 4.0.6487.2000 which is from ConfigMgr 2007 SP2. Because of the new version you will in addition to the updates files also see some additional files (CommonUtils.dll, ccmgencert.dll, msvcp100.dll and msvcr100.dll) being copied to the boot image.

One of the task sequence components.

Split WIM support for UEFI media scenarios

When creating (updating) an offline media item, and MDT 2013 Update 1 Preview detects a WIM file larger than 4 GB, it will split it automatically for you into 4 GB chunks (well, 4095 MB chunks).

Findings: The really interesting part, which I consider kind of a design flaw, is that the media update action first of all splits the big WIM every single time you run the update, no matter if the big image changed or not. Second, it’s using ImageX.exe to do the split which is supposed to be deprecated (DISM does support split too). Third, it’s using a quite resource intensive workflow for splitting the WIM and update the media. MDT does the following when having the deployment share on a data disk:

  1. Splits the big WIM using ImageX and stores the SWM chunk files in the original big WIM folder in the MDT deployment share.
  2. Moves the big WIM from the MDT deployment share to %temp%. However it’s  really a copy and delete since %temp% is on a different volume by default.
  3. Copies the SWM files from the deployment share to the media folder. Yes, copies, even if they are on the same volume, not moving.
  4. Moves the big image from %temp% to the MDT deployment share. Again really a copy and delete since %temp% is on a different volume by default.
  5. Deletes the SWM files in the MDT deployment share
  6. Done.

Put it this way, you better have plenty of free disk space, and don’t deploy the image over the network while updating the media (and the opposite around as well).

Real World Note: Since ImageX (or DISM for that matter) is used to split the big WIM file it won’t work if your WIM has files larger than 4 GB in it. Below you see one of the chunks being bigger than 4 GB, which obviously won’t work on a UEFI-based media (which is FAT32). Hopefully most images don’t have individual files larger than 4 GB in them, but still, it’s a serious limitation.

The new split WIM support not working for UEFI-based media because the big WIM had one file larger than 4 GB in it.

The Update Media Content wizard detecting a large WIM file and splitting it.


Script Updates

If you review the MDT 2013 Update 1 preview scripts , you’ll find that most script updates are related to using the new GetMajorMinorVersion from the ZTIUtility.vbs script to handle versioning of Windows Operating Systems, or for supporting the new task sequence engine, or for the split WIM support. But I did notice another change as well:

  • ZTIWindowsUpdate.wsf updated to only enable debug tracing when debug flag is set.

Happy Deployment,

/ Johan

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Johan Arwidmark

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9 years ago

Did they fix the "Settings Per Task Sequence" that used to be available in MDT 2010 but was removed in MDT 2012, or does DeployWiz_SelectTS.vbs still have to be edited to re-enable Settings Per Task Sequence?

9 years ago

You can automate an in-place upgrade to Windows 8.1 by using the "setup.exe /auto:upgrade" command, then you don't need to change any boot order. With MDT 2013 you can also do a computer refresh, if you need to wipe them completely clean. That process can also be done without changing BIOS.

Other than that, for bare metal deployments (PXE / USB) you can just select that boot option at deployment time, without changing the BIOS boot order.

/ Johan

9 years ago

HI Johan,
I must really commend you for the beautiful job you are doing. more grease to your elbow.. my question goes thus, in my organization, we have upto 60 PCs with windows 8 running on them but trying to upgrade to windows 8.1 by automating the deployment.. how can all the systems boot from the network/deployment share without having to configure the booting order of the system one after the other to boot from from the network.
Thank you.

9 years ago

I agree with Tamas.Herczeg. I don't think MDT in general will be the number 1 priority from the System Center team. Too bad though, because the functionality in MDT really nails a lot of the features in SCCM. I could be wrong though. 🙂

9 years ago

Great review! Thanks Johan!

Seems to me that MDT is not a priority anymore since taken over by the System Center team. No improvement, no bug fix, only minimal maintenance. Too bad. Also, it doesn't seem to support PowerShell 5.0 Feb Preview yet. Throws an error on my server: "PowerShell not installed".