Getting Started with SmartDeploy

Getting Started

This guide will assist you with installing SmartDeploy, creating and capturing your first reference virtual machine, and deploying your first image. It will also show how to install the SmartDeploy Client onto your endpoints in order to manage applications, drivers, and updates.


Register, download, and install SmartDeploy

  1. Browse to and click Download free trial.
  2. On the registration page, enter your first name, last name, and email address, check the box to agree to the terms of service and privacy policy, and click Register and download.
  3. On the SmartDeploy account portal (, click and review the Release Notes, which includes detailed System Requirements.
  4. Click the Download Now button to download SmartDeploy.

Download Windows license and OS media install virtualization software

In order to create a golden reference VM, capture an image from that VM, and deploy it to the endpoints in your organization, you will need:

  1. Windows OS media. The simplest method to acquire Windows OS media is to use the Microsoft Windows Media Creation Tool, located here. SmartDeploy supports all Windows licensing types, and can pass through a Windows product key automatically as a part of reimaging. Make sure that you use the newest/latest version of the Windows OS you wish to install, so that you will not need to install any in-place upgrades/feature updates.
  2. An official Windows license which includes reimaging rights. We recommend a Windows volume license for this purpose. You may speak to any Windows volume license reseller to assist with purchasing a volume license, as well as converting any existing OEM/off-the-shelf Windows licenses to an equivalent number of volume license seats. This is a very common task for businesses that have reached a scale where it makes sense to use imaging software, and it is not especially difficult or costly.
  3. One of our supported Virtualization Platforms:
    • Microsoft® Hyper-V (which you can enable as a feature on any Windows 10/11 OS)
    • Oracle® VM VirtualBox™ (more info here)
    • VMWare® Player/Workstation/Workstation Pro (more info here)

The virtualization methods above may be installed/enabled on a Windows 10+/Server 2016+ workstation alongside the SmartDeploy console. This is the simplest configuration, as it means that SmartDeploy can browse to the virtual hard disk, capture it, and save the resulting image to the local hard drive.

SmartDeploy also supports virtual machines created on supported Type-1/bare-metal hypervisors: Citrix® XenServer™ and VMware® ESX

In order to capture a reference VM created on a Type-1 hypervisor, you would need to copy the virtual hard disk to your SmartDeploy console workstation, or perform a warm/online capture from within WindowsPE on the VM itself, using SmartDeploy boot media.

Configure your SmartDeploy console workstation

Review the Release Notes and System Requirements for details on support operating systems and virtualization platforms. Note that SmartDeploy must be able to communicate on ports 443 and 8080, and be aware that antivirus or other security software may interfere with the operation of the SmartDeploy console or client. Before you install SmartDeploy, contact your network administrator or anyone else in your organization who may be needed to temporarily disable or configure settings for your security software.

  1. Locate and double-click on the SmartDeploy installer (SDESetup.exe).
  2. Proceed through the installer, which will install the SmartDeploy console as well as the following components, which are required for the console to function:
    • MongoDB 6.0.xx
    • Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) and WindowsPE add-on
    • .NET Desktop Runtime 6.0.xx (x86 and x64 versions)
    • ASP.NET Core Runtime 6.0.xx (x86 and x64 versions)

Build your golden reference virtual machine

SmartDeploy includes a Build Wizard which can be used to create and import a new, bare-metal virtual machine for VMWare® Player/Workstation or for Oracle® VM VirtualBox™. For the other supported virtualization platforms, you must create the VM in the virtualization platform itself. Refer to the official Microsoft system requirements for Windows 10 and Windows 11 to confirm that your VM can successfully run the OS.

Attach your Windows OS media .iso file to the virtual machine as a virtual optical drive, and then power on the VM and proceed through Windows OS installation. After Windows installation is complete, log into the installed OS, run Windows Update, and install all available updates.

Install any applications that you wish to include on your reference VM. Note that some applications may not function well as a part of the reference VM, so we encourage caution and testing of applictions until you have confirmed that they will function well as a part of the image. Alternatively, you may install applications later using post-deployment tasks or Application Packs.

Do not run Sysprep.

Fully shutdown the VM by running the command line: shutdown /s /t 0


Capture your golden reference VM

Open Capture Wizard from the SmartDeploy console, browse to the virtual hard disk file (.vhd/.vhdx/.vmdk), select a save location for the captured image (which is saved as a .wim file), and click Finish to start capture.

You must ensure that there is adequate free disk space available to capture the image - generally, we recommend an equivalent amount of free space to the size of the virtual hard disk. Meaning if the virtual hard disk is 60GB, there should be at least 60GB free. The captured image is typically much smaller than the virtual hard disk once capture is complete.

The resulting image (.wim file) is entirely standalone and hardware-independent - meaning that it can be deployed to any hardware in your organization using a compatible Platform Pack.


Download Platform Packs for your specific computer models

Because SmartDeploy images are hardware-independent, SmartDeploy manages drivers using files called Platform Packs. Each Platform Pack corresponds to a specific manufacturer, model, and operating system. SmartDeploy uses WMI queries to identify the make and model of a target computer, so during deployment, you can be certain that only the correct Platform Pack will ever be used to deploy to a specific model, even if many different Platform Packs are available for use.

To download Platform Packs, browse to Platform Packs in the SmartDeploy console, click the + icon and click Download a Platform Pack. Search for your desired make/model, select the desired pack, and click Download.


Choose and automate your deployment method(s)

In order to deploy an image to one of your endpoints, that endpoint must be booted into the SmartDeploy WindowsPE environment (SmartPE) using one of the available SmartDeploy media types:

  • Console-initiated deployment using the SmartDeploy Client, which is installed on each endpoint, and has the capability to trigger a reboot into PE using a network-based deployment package, which includes SmartPE, as well as one or more answer files to automate the selection of the image and Platform Packs, which are stored on an accessible location on your local network, such as the console workstation itself.
  • Boot the device to USB boot media. This is functionally similar to the network-based deployment package above, but it is initiated from the endpoint using an external USB drive. This method is recommended for brand new computers which still have their OEM images, because it saves time compared to logging in and installing the SmartDeploy Client.
  • Boot the device to USB offline deployment media. Offline media is identical to boot media, except that it includes the image, Platform Packs, etc. on the USB drive itself. This can be useful for one-off deployments to endpoints with limited network connectivity.
  • SmartDeploy also supports ISO and legacy optical (DVD) media, which can be created as either boot media or offline deployment media.

After you have chosen your preferred method of deployment, you can open the SmartDeploy console, and use Media Wizard (Activities | Reimage Devices | Create Media) to create the appropriate media type, and Answer File Wizard (Activities | Reimage Devices | Create Answer File) to create a set of instructions for the media to follow when performing the deployment.

Answer Files include settings such as:

  • Whether the deployment will be attended (user must click through Deploy Wizard and may change settings) or unattended (deployment will proceed automatically with no user interaction required). Note that all console-initiated deployments are unattended, because the end user may not be present when the deployment occurs.
  • The network path where the image and Platform Packs may be found, and credentials (encrypted and stored in the answer file) to access that path.
  • Joining an on-prem domain or Azure AD domain
  • Installation of the SmartDeploy Client, and the hostname of the SmartDeploy Console that will be managing this endpoint. If you include this option, you will be able to manage the endpoint and perform console-initiated image, driver, and application deployments from the SmartDeploy Console.
  • Installation of Application Packs. If you select any Application Packs, the SmartDeploy Client will install them after the image deployment is complete.

Create and save your answer file, and then create your SmartDeploy media.


Reimage an endpoint

For any of the external media types (USB/DVD media), you can reboot the endpoint to the external media, and proceed with deployment.

For a console-initiated deployment to an endpoint with the SmartDeploy Client installed, browse to Computer Management, select one or more endpoints, click Deploy | Image, and select the appropriate deployment package. Proceed through the wizard (which includes an option to schedule the deployment for later), and click Finish to start/schedule the deployment.


Install the SmartDeploy Client

The SmartDeploy Client can be installed onto endpoints in your environment using any of the following methods:

  • Automatically while reimaging the device, as specified in the Answer File above.
  • Using a SmartDeploy Client Installation Package, which is a customized MSI file which will install the client and point it toward the console which created it. To create a package in the SmartDeploy console, browse to Activities | Add Devices | Generate Client Installer. Proceed through the wizard, and save the .msi file. You can then install the client manually (by copying it to an endpoint and running it), using Group Policy, or using any other application deployment automation.

Once you have installed the SmartDeploy Client on your endpoints, they will appear in Computer Management (to perform deployment tasks), Patch Management (to perform Windows Update tasks), and Software Management (to perform application inventory, deployment, and removal tasks).

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