The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) supports some pretty powerful application customizations. In this guide, we will cover advanced application techniques, including application dependencies and default applications.

Imaging and deployment have long been plagued by the thick vs. thin debate. The pendulum swung from all-inclusive images to “just the OS” installs. The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) turned this debate in a different direction by using Task Sequences.

Suddenly, desktop administrators had the ability to layer changes on top of a base image by using a Task Sequence. One of the biggest uses was adding application installs after the OS deployment finishes but before the end user has control of the device.

Although we covered adding an application to a Task Sequence, MDT supports advanced application scenarios. For this guide, we will use three applications that are loaded into the MDT Applications folder. This setup allows you to set a default application later and to choose between different options. In my example, I will use the Windows Management Framework, the .NET Framework 4.5, and the System Center Configuration Manager client. Now, let’s cover some advanced application installation scenarios.

Creating MDT application dependencies ^

Some of your MDT applications might have installation prerequisites. For example, you might have to update the Windows Management Framework so that you can use PowerShell 4. This install would require .NET Framework 4.5 first.

This can be achieved by importing both applications into MDT. If needed, the install commands can be found in the link above. Once both applications are imported, edit the Windows Management Framework 4.0 install and navigate to the Dependencies tab.

The first time I did this, I didn’t see the white check box on the white background. I selected the application – pressed OK – and nothing happened. Be sure to check the box next to the prerequisite software (for example, .NET Framework 4.5). After pressing OK, you should see your application listed on the Dependencies tab.

Windows Management Framework -Dependencies

Windows Management Framework -Dependencies

More complex applications might require additional dependencies. MDT supports scenarios like this. Keep in mind that applications install in the order that they are listed. To prevent Dirty Environment errors, be sure that your prerequisites do not initiate a restart.

Mandating default applications in MDT ^

You will likely have certain applications that should always be installed and selected within the Task Sequence. This need to have certain default applications contradicts with the built-in “Install Multiple Applications” task.

The Install Application task in the State Restore phase

The Install Application task in the State Restore phase

By modifying our CustomSettings.ini, we can pre-check certain applications. Under the [Default] rules section, add Applications001={APPLICATIONGUID}. Be sure that CustomSettings.ini specifies Applications with an S.

The application GUID can be found on the General tab of the application.

Application GUID

Application GUID

If needed, additional default applications can be specified by continuing with the same format (Applications002=, Applications003=, etc.).

Specifying a default application in CustomSettings.ini

Specifying a default application in CustomSettings.ini

The next time a client starts a Task Sequence, your default applications will be pre-checked in the Deployment Wizard.

The SCCM Client set as a default application

The SCCM Client set as a default application

But what if you don’t want your users to uncheck the default application? MDT makes this pretty simple, as well. Simply edit your CustomSettings.ini file and change Applications001= to MandatoryApplications001=.

The next time a client begins a Task Sequence, the mandatory application will be checked and grayed out.

As you can see, MDT supports a great deal of customization when it comes to application management. How do you manage applications in MDT? What tricks can you share?

2 Comments
  1. Michael Grbic 7 years ago

    MDT is cheap but absolutly a SW for extrem Masochists! Rollout maybe yeah, but we had only to troubleshoot.

    SCCM is expensive but pay for it or a other solution, LanDesk, Tivoli or swiss made Columbus brainware.ch.

    • Robyn 1 year ago

      You are correct-MDT is definitely for masochists!  I have been struggling with applications for a week now with my new MDT server.  Everything else is working beautifully, but some of my applications just don't want to install.

      avatar

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