In our previous post in my Windows 8 deployment series, we configured our Windows 8 Task Sequence. This task sequence does a lot including installing our application, Microsoft Office. We did not, however, specify items like: how to join the domain or our language and time zone.

With the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, items like this are not specific to the operating system. Instead, these settings are kept in answer files and injected at the appropriate time. In MDT, we will mainly deal with two files: Bootstrap.ini and CustomSettings.ini. Both of these files can be found in the Control folder under your DeploymentShare (ex: C:\Deploymentshare\Control).

Windows 8 deployment - Both answers files with the DeploymentShare control folder

Both answers files with the DeploymentShare control folder


The Bootstrap.ini file contains the share path to your DeploymentShare as well as credentials to connect to the DeploymentShare. This file is copied onto your MDT boot media (Network Boot image, CD, USB drive, etc). This means that anytime you make a change to this file, you will need to use MDT to update the boot media. As a best practice, the user you specify in your Bootstrap.ini file should only have read/execute to the DeploymentShare.

Windows 8 deployment - A sample boot strap file

A sample boot strap file


For all intents and purposes, the CustomSettings.ini file is the general answer file for MDT. Within, you can specify any broad setting that machines in your environment will need. For example, you can specify your Domain (along with the credentials to join the domain), the default Task Sequence, and the status of BitLocker. When you first setup MDT, your CustomSettings.ini file will look something like this:

Windows 8 deployment -Default CustomSettings File

Default CustomSettings File

While this file is a good start, you will probably want some additional rules. For example, when a Task Sequence has finished, it will give us a Final Summary showing that everything is fine. To save us (and our users a step), we will add a SkipFinalSummary=Yes to our CustomSettings file. Now, we will only get a Final Summary if our Task Sequence has an error.

As you continue to build on MDT, your CustomSettings file will likely grow. Below is an example of a full CustomSettings file that automates everything but the name prompt:

Windows 8 deployment - A very detailed CustomSettings file

A very detailed CustomSettings file

If you use the file above as a template for your organization, you will need to add in the following values:

  • AdminPassword: Your Default Local Administrator Password
  • JoinDomain: Your Domain name (ex: Test.local)
  • DomainAdmin: An account that has permission to add a computer to the domain
  • DomainAdminDomain: Your Domain name (seems redundant)
  • DomainAdminPassword: The password for the account above

Updating the DeploymentShare

When I first started with MDT, I was very confused on when to update the deployment share. I wondered if I should update when I add a driver or should I update when I modify a Task Sequence. For a good few months, I updated after every change just to be safe. Needless to say, I wasted a lot of time that way.

So when should you update the deployment share? Only when something has changed that is needed on the boot media. This includes:

  • Drivers needed to connect to the deployment share (network drivers, mass storage)
  • When you have added in an extra tool (like DaRT)
  • When you have changed something on the Boot.ini file
  • When you have updated MDT to a new version (2010 to 2012, 2012 to 2012 Update1, etc.)

You do not need to update the deployment share if you have updated a Task Sequence, added in an Application, or changed the CustomSettings.ini file. To update the deployment share, simply right click on your Deployment Share and select Update Deployment Share.

Windows 8 deployment - Why it is not named “Update Boot Media” is beyond me

Why it is not named “Update Boot Media” is beyond me…

The first prompt will ask if you would like to optimize the boot image update process or if you want to completely regenerate the boot image.

Windows 8 deployment - In most cases, select the default selection for your Boot image

In most cases, select the default selection for your Boot image.

If you ever update your Deployment Share to a new version of MDT, be sure to completely regenerate your boot images. Continue through the wizard and your MDT Boot Media will automatically be generated.

Finally, we are almost ready to watch our deployment of Windows 8! So far, we have built our Deployment Share, imported our software, configured a Windows 8 Task Sequence, and setup our Boot.ini and CustomSettings.ini answer files.

In our next post, we will be importing our boot media and configuring Windows Deployment Services. If you have any problems with your answer files or need clarification on specific settings, let us know in the comments.


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