There are three main strategies for the deployment of Windows 7 computers in an Enterprise environment alongside various implementation methods depending on the requirements and needs of each department. Let’s take a look.
Thick Image Deployment
This is one of the most basic deployment methodologies for Windows 7 in an Enterprise or Small Business environment. Briefly, the procedure is as follows: prepare a computer that will be used as a reference build by installing all the updates, applications, and settings you want to have as default after the completion of the deployment. Save the image to an external drive or a network location, and then apply the image to each computer separately. Once complete, each computer is prepared with all updates installed and applications and settings configured. This strategy is mainly used in businesses with a small number of computers and requires at least one person from the technical staff to complete the process.
Thin Image Deployment
This strategy is somewhat the reverse of Thick Image as we assume that installing updates, applications and settings will be dynamically applied during the deployment process. The computer you use as a reference machine is running without updates, applications and settings. We then prepare the system with a tool called Sysprep to create the basic image file (.wim). Alternatively, you can use a previously prepared image file located on the Windows 7 DVD (in the Sources folder).
The installation of updates and applications is performed dynamically during the deployment process – usually unattended – after preparing an answer file with all necessary information to configure the unattended install. Put simply, apply the base image of Windows 7 on a computer, then proceed to install the respective applications and updates as needed to every part of the business. This strategy generally applies to companies with a large number of computers and departments with differing requirements. The implementation requires advanced knowledge of deployment and access to the company’s local server.
Hybrid Image Deployment
The Hybrid Image is an intermediate methodology sitting between Thick and Thin Image where the base image installs key applications that all users use without exception, such as web browsers, Microsoft Office, anti-virus and so on, but there is also the capability to install specific applications or/ and application settings dynamically during the deployment. These specific requirements would be based on the needs of each user or department. This strategy is used in large enterprises consisting of several segments with different needs and requirements for each part. Like the strategy of Thin Image, it requires advanced knowledge of deployment and access to the company’s local server.