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Reaper's Edge, One Year On

posted Oct 27, 2011, 1:10 PM by Michael Wilson
As you may have noticed from the dates on my posts, I haven't been very active this last year. Partly that's because imaging tends to go in spurts where I work, and I haven't done much that's really new. But, rather than waiting for Windows 8, I thought I'd share a few little tidbits I've picked up in the last year. Don't expect anything Earth shattering, but a couple trivia questions might come out of this :)

First off, I've been doing a lot of imaging with Windows 7 in the last year, as I gradually phase out Windows XP. Along the way I was forced to make a rather difficult choice with repercussions that might interest you. If you paid close attention to some of my earlier post you may know that where I work we have two basic categories of PCs: Staff and Public. Staff PCs are nothing special, but as you can imagine, Public PCs require some extra effort to protect and maintain.

Given all of the myriad differences between the two PC types it made since for me to use two separate images for them. Then, when we began transitioning from XP to 7, we moved all of the Staff PCs first, and waited a while for the Publics. Quite simply, it was because the Publics require so much more mental energy. For Staff PCs I decided to use Windows 7 Pro x64. I chose this based on the knowledge that with RAM quantities in PCs doubling every couple years, and PCs already shipping with in excess of 4GB of RAM preinstalled, it would be foolish and wasteful to do otherwise. Publics were another story.

In our environment Public PCs are also hand-me-down PCs. At the time of the transition most Public PCs were still skating by on 1GB of RAM, with some running 2GB. That, combined with the increased compatibilty issues, led me to choose Windows 7 Pro x86 for Public PCs. The big question then, what kind of consequences arose from maintaining images for two different architectures?

Honestly, the biggest headache was going back and getting drivers for every model of PC in my environment, then extracting them. What you really want to know, though, is whether they can coexist in the same WIM file. Answer: Yes, with a qualifier. My Windows 7 WIM files are usually around 8 or 9GB. Adding additional images (of the same architecture) only nominally increases that (8GB becomes 8.2GB with an additional image). Combining x86 and x64 is less clean because there is less file duplication. Combined my two 8-9GB images take up 11-12GB of space. Still, better than using separate files.