Some days ago I wrote about the limited support of SMS 2003 SP2 for Windows Vista. Today, I deployed Vista in my testing environment using the OS Deployment Feature Pack for SMS 2003 SP2. My experiences are comparable to the first part of my test.

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First, I downloaded and installed the latest OSD Feature Pack. I didn't encounter any problem during the installation, but afterwards, I wondered, if the new version is really installed. The old version of the OS Deployment Feature Pack was on this server before. The section for the Image Packages in the SMS Administrator Console didn't change at all and the Add-or-Remove- Programs Panel didn't give me any hint that I installed a new version. Even the manual is the same as before. If you search for "Vista" in it, you won't get any hit. Somehow it seems to me that this Feature Pack is a quick-and-dirty version.

Next, I captured an image from my reference computer. For this, I created a new OS Image Capture CD. I was quite surprised that the Windows PE contained is still based on Windows XP and not Vista. Actually, it is still WinPE 2004, not even WinPE 2005. This is another hint that this Feature Pack is not ready.

This old Win PE was the reason why my first attempt failed. The network device drivers for my half year old PC were not included. WinPE 2.0, which is based on Vista, contains them already. So I had to add drivers manually and create a new Capture CD.

My second attempt worked then. The image was copied to the specified network share. The import of the WIM image in the SMS server ran thru without any problems. After configuring the Operating System Program for the deployment and updating the SMS Distribution Point I created an OS Image Installation CD with the same network card device drivers as the Capture CD.

Unfortunately, I was not able to deploy the Vista image to the PC, where I created it. The deployment wizard complained that it couldn't find the image. I rechecked everything, and my configuration seemed to be OK. I've no idea why it didn't work.

I, then, copied my WIM image to my second SMS 2003 test server which runs in a virtual environment on VMWare Workstation. I wanted to deploy this image to a virtual PC because I knew that the WinPE 1.0 works fine with VMware's network card.

I created a virtual machine for a Windows Vista installation, but WinPE 1.0 had problems with the virtual SCSI hard disk. So I exchanged it with an IDE hard disk, et voilà, this time I was able to deploy the image. Remember, I originally created this image on a physical PC, and then deployed it to a virtual PC, which is pretty cool in my view.

Although I succeeded somehow in the end, I have doubts that this OSD Feature Pack for SMS 2003 SP2 is really ready for Windows Vista. SMS 2003 SP2 support for Vista is only half-baked and this also seems to apply to the OS Deployment Feature Pack.

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The problem with these half-ready tools is that you never know if it is a bug or configuration issue when something doesn't work. That's why we will postpone the deployment of Windows Vista until SMS 2003 SP3 is available.


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