Why Pay More? Try ImageX
Even though I get pretty hot under-the-collar sometimes when Microsoft removes for-free functionality (Exchange backups on Windows Server 2008, for example), there are some great tools that Microsoft provides for-free that are just as good as their for-pay alternatives - and more tightly integrated with other Windows functionality. However, they are often not well known.
One of those is WDS - Windows Deployment Services. WDS provides easy/simpler ways to, well, Deploy Windows! (D'Oh!)
Part of WDS is ImageX. ImageX provides a free-and-easy way to create images of Windows desktops, including deployment images. One of the great features of ImageX is that you can easily load drivers, patches, service packs, etc - AFTER the image is created, without creating a brand new image. This is a great time saver. It also allows you to create and install "generic" images that have multiple HALs (Hardware Abstraction Layers) and storage subsystems (as long as the drivers are included in the base image!).
Check it out.
Windows Automated Installation Kit
ImageX Technical Reference
Until next time...
As always, if there are items you would like me to talk about, please drop me a line and let me know!