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To test the software I created an image using a standard desktop PC then deployed it to a laptop. Now this isn’t something I’d recommend you normally do as desktops and laptops tend to be configured differently, and you should create an image for each type of machine, but it will give the software a stern test.
The PC is one of our test beds that currently contains an MSI 865PE Neo2 motherboard with onboard sound, Radeon 7500 graphics card, and various other bits and bobs. The laptop is a Pegasus 335 T72 from Rock which contains a 945GM based motherboard with integrated graphics, DVB-T tuner, and onboard sound - so there’s quite a difference in hardware for the UIU to cope with.
The original image was a Windows XP installation that was configured with two users and of course, no drivers - no additional software was added so as to keep the image size to a minimum. To prepare the image for transfer you need to download the System Preparation Utility files from Windows Update, and extract them to a useful location. Then you simply run the UIU application, follow the setup screens, and let it do its thing.
As you run through the various option screens, the process is fairly self explanatory and you are well guided through. Along the way, you can choose to add in support for SCSI drives in case you might be deploying to a SCSI environment. However, there are just two main option screens.
The Configuration options screen corresponds to the usual information you input when installing a new copy of windows. Thus you can select the initial username, add the computer to a workgroup or domain, input the Windows license key, change time zone and screen resolution. Then, when the image is deployed, all these setup screens are skipped over which minimises user interaction.
Advanced options include the number of times the PC reboots after the image has been deployed enabling any software/driver installations that require a reboot to be completed before the technician has to interact with the PC.
Once you set it going, the process takes about ten minutes after which you are then ready to take an image of the drive and copy it to the rest of your computers.
Our test worked as expected and the UIU managed to install all our laptop’s hardware without a glitch. This should be the case for ninety percent of users but there’s always the chance that the driver database doesn’t contain the driver you need, in which case you will have to use the old tried and trusted method of manual installation. However, the database is regularly updated so this should never be a long term problem.
Licensing for the UIU is measured by number of deployments, or seats, so that each computer that is receiving an image must be covered by the license. Pricing starts at $20.14 per seat for the first 199 seats and drops incrementally to $10.07 for up to 4,999 seats. Above 5,000 seats, the price is simply listed as ‘CALL’.
The Universal Imaging Utility is the next logical step in large scale system deployment and it, or variations of it, are likely to become the norm over the coming years - just as Ghost has. And, with pricing starting so low, it seems Binary Research has another sure fire hit.
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