This guide will teach you how to setup the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit to deploy Windows images without using Windows Server. This is aimed towards the home user that is willing to get their hands dirty.
Benefits of MDT:
Free. All the tools in this post are free and supplied by Microsoft.
Automating Windows Installations (adding software such as Google Chrome, 7-zip, etc.) and running scripts to de-bloat (remove all or certain Windows 10 apps such as solitaire, etc.) Applying security policies (Windows 10 pro and up)
Moving your all you user folders (pictures, documents, videos, etc. as well as the (hidden) AppData folder) to a different partition before Windows is installed. [This is especially useful if you like to keep data separate from Windows system files.]
Able to work with .wim files directly. [Useful when stripping extra versions from the Windows Installation Media Assistant and creating a lighter .ISO]
Using dism, we can use FFU (Full Flash Update) for UEFI systems which essentially creates a perfect clone of our system (as it copies sector by sector). What this means is: the entire disk is copied so this includes partitions (including dual-booting Linux, etc.). Multiple disks can be copied over. WinPE is necessary for this process.
Why did I start with MDT as a regular home user with no prior experience in deployment? I was tired of having to manually reinstall Windows every time something went wrong, dealing with pre-installed bloatware and not being able to move all the user folders when I was striving to keep things separate. With that out of the way, let's begin.
Note: I am all up for installing software in other partitions, disks, etc. but it complicates things when it comes to updates. For that reason, I recommend installing Windows ADK + WinPE (Windows PE add-on) + the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit in the C:/ Drive and all your deployments/data in another disk or partition (if you use different partitions/disks, etc.)
The downloaded files will be: adksetup | adkwinpesetup | MicrosoftDeploymentToolkit_x64 (depending on your version)
Launch the adksetup
Next > Accept
The provided list is extensive but we only require Deployment Tools. The size of your installation should be 91.4 MB. If you need to install another tool, you simply run the adksetup once again and choose what you need to install only.
Select Install and accept the prompt that comes up. Close the installation window once it is completed.
Windows PE Add-on
WinPE is 5GB in size and optional but I use it a lot and tutorials further down the line will make use of it.
To install, launch adkwinpesetup > Next > Next > Accept > Install
Accept any prompts that come up. The tool will take awhile to install so you can go grab a coffee. Close the installation window when it's finished.
Download > Next
Some folks recommend the x86 (32-bit/older pcs) version for maximum compatibility but I haven't experienced any issues with the x64 (64-bit/newer pcs) version. As always, choose the appropriate version for your system.
Launch MicrosoftDeploymentToolkit_x64 > Next > Accept the terms > Next > Next > Next > Install
Accept any prompts that come up and hit finish when it is done.
This concludes the setup process. Stay tuned for the rest. MDT is a very powerful monster and therefore each part needs dedicated time.