Do you want full control over your client environment? In that case you would need a good procedure to asses your hardware before it goes into production. Some enterprises today have a test environment with hardware representative to production for certification and troubleshooting purposes, this is a very good start, but to take this a bit further you would need to look at some automated testing as well, Windows Performance Toolkit in Windows 7 SDK is a very good start, but to take it every further you would go for Windows 8 ADK and Windows Assessment Services.

WAS is a test framework used to automate running assessments that measure performance, reliability and functionality on multiple computers in a lab environment. It helps you eliminate fragmented, error-prone, expensive, pre-deployment test processes, and enables you to replace multiple steps and inconsistent tools with just one tool.

Read more: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh825573

The environment should consist of

  • 1 Server for storing the results, images etc
    • Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Technician’s computer
    • Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8, Windows 7 SP1
  • Test computers
    • Computers must support USB boot, PXE boot, network adapter
  • Network
    • All computers must be on the same subnet, should not share the same subnet as production computers
    • DHCP server to assign IP to test computers

First, fire up your Windows 2012 or 2008 R2 Server to install and configure the service. Read a bit more about it here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh825515

I would carefully read the requirements before starting the installation. Now time to start the ADKSetup.exe and select these features:

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Now start Windows Assessment Services – Client from the start menu to start initialize the service.

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Press yes to start the initializing and it looks something like this

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Press OK to configure WinRM

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So what happened.. In the root folder there is a new folder – Relax this is also shared and some inbound firewall rules were created.

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Also a local user account was created, this user is not a member of the administrators group.
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And a service
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It takes a while to initialize the and finally the Windows ASC will appear with this screen

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There are a lot of options to assess you computers, but I will just go forward with adding one running Windows 8 Release Preview computer to the inventory and make a test case for this computer. If you like to read more about how configure the service: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh825412

On the Windows 8 computer:

Logon with a local admin account

Connect to the relax share with the user created, example

net use \\SERVER\relax /user:localadmin Pass.word

and from a elevated command prompt run CompleteDeployment.cmd

\\SERVER\relax\scripts\TestMachine\CompleteDeployment.cmd

Press Yes and Enter, this will restart, auto logon and prepare the computer for assessments

Open up the console on the server and your computer should be visible in the inventory

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Lets start a project! Press “Create a new project” at step 3

Enter a project name and press Next to add computers from the inventory.

Press Add… select the computer you just added and press OK to add the computer to the project and press Next
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On the last page, just press Finish and add no images.

As you can see an empty project is created with no jobs, so lets add some jobs
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Enter a name for the job and choose to create a job from a template
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There are some jobs to choose from, I will go for the last job “Startup and Shutdown Experience”
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Time to configure the job, select Assets and press Add… to add your computer and select “Use Predeployed Image”
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To edit, re-order, add or delete the Assessments included in the job, use the pane to the left and to finally start the job, just hit Run at the bottom right.
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My Assessments ended up like this before I hit the run buttonimageimageimage

After the screen above, the server is waiting for the test computer, so when the below screen appears on the server, go back to the test computer and run the same script as you did when you did the inventor of the computer.
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\\SERVER\relax\scripts\TestMachine\CompleteDeployment.cmd

The process meter should now change and the client should perform the assessments and restart a couple of time, depends on what types of assessments you added.

If you end up with an error like this, double click to figure out what happened.
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I figured out that I misconfigured my assessments, obviously I thought I had hibernate on my virtual client.. So I ended up reconfigured my Assessments like this
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And rerun the job, back to the test computer and deleted the folder %SystemDrive%\Relax and rerun the script. Finally the job runs smoothly.
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What do you think? There are also possibilities to compare results, drill down in the reports, copy the report, look at old results etc.

This can help you impress your manager at anytime Smile
and minimize troubleshooting, service desk costs…

Happy assessmenting!

 

And finally some resources on TechNet

Technical Reference
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh825573

Troubleshooting
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh825278