I still remember when we first start cloning it was very unusual because everyone was working with unattended uninstallation. I think the tool we used was Ghost which was later bought by Symantec and we cloned Windows NT machines with it.
Later, when Microsoft became aware of cloning tools they warned using them, telling everyone that unintended installations is a better technology. I guess the reason why they didn't want admins clone machines was the SID problem. We did it anyway because it was lot faster than installing Windows. We never had any problems with SIDs.
Later, Microsoft introduced sysprep because more and more admins figured that cloning was the way to go. Nowadays, I wouldn't clone without sysprep. If problems come up, you always wonder if cloning caused it. Better follow the standard procedure if there is no significant advantage.
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