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How can I add additional network and storage drivers to the Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE) that a system uses when upgrading an OS via a Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) OS Deployment Feature Pack advertisement?

A. The default SMS OS Deployment WinPE has all the drivers that are included with Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). If you need additional network or storage drivers, one option is to create a custom WinPE and copy the relevant driver files to the correct locations (which is what you have to do for a Microsoft Remote Installation Services (RIS)-based SMS OS Deployment Feature Pack installation). An easier option, however, is to use the drivers tab of the OS package properties to specify folders for the extra drivers. To do so, perform these steps:

  1. Start the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) SMS Management snap-in (Start, Programs, Systems Management Server, SMS Administrator Console).
  2. Expand the Image Packages branch and right-click the OS package for which you want to specify additional drivers.
  3. Select the Drivers tab.
  4. Select the check box for network or storage, and click Browse to specify where the additional drivers are located, as the figure shows. The specified folder must be a flat structure--subfolders won't be read. Also remember the storage driver location must have a valid txtsetup.oem file.
  5. Click OK.

You'll notice that after you specify these drivers, the source folder for the OS package contains a new folder called "CustomWinPE," which has Inf, system32, and system32\drivers subfolders, with the necessary driver component files copied to the correct locations, as the figure shows. When a client receives the OS advertisement, SMS extracts the standard winpe.wim file to the minint folder of the receiving computer and copies the content of the CustomWinPE folder to the minint folder to provide the support for extra network and storage hardware.

Note that if you're deploying new OSs via RIS, these additional network drivers won't be used because RIS ignores the OS package's WinPE. You could copy the CustomWinPE folder content to the WinPE instance folder on the RIS server to add the additional drivers to avoid manually moving the required files to the correct directories (e.g. .inf files to the Inf folder, .sys to the system32\drivers). You also need to update all the OS package's distribution points so that the CustomWinPE content is available to the clients.

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