Configuration Manager Dynamic Drivers & BIOS Management with Total Control Part 1

When approaching any solution, it is a good idea to come up with a list of requirements that the solution needs to be able to meet. This way you will be sure to start off on the right foot and not have to rip and replace, add to, or redo over the solution in the future. In terms of Driver & BIOS management, I have come up with the following requirements that need to be met in order to have the best solution possible that can be used in multiple scenarios:

1. Runs in Full OS and WinPE
2. Same method works across baremetal, refresh and in-place upgrade Task Sequences
3. Dynamic without the need to edit the TS or scripts
4. Supports Production and Pre-Production in the same TS
5. Intuitive and easy to use

There are a lot of blogs out there on how to manage drivers and BIOS updates with Configuration Manager, however, each of them fall short of the above requirements in one way or another. I first started out on this quest back in 2015 when I was investigating what it would take to go from BIOS to UEFI. Long story short, you need to use the vendor utilities (or methods) to change the firmware settings and they worked the best when the BIOS was running the latest version. I wanted to be able to flash the BIOS in the full OS, as well as WinPE (requirement #1). This meant that Configuration Manager Packages needed to be used since Applications cannot be used in WinPE. This way, the same process could be used regardless if the system was bare metal from the vendor or an existing machine that was getting a refresh or in-place upgrade Task Sequence (requirement #2). By the way, some vendors still have limitations on flashing the BIOS in WinPE x64, but a lot of models now support this for the most part.

Another goal was to be able to do this without having a 5 mile long Task Sequence that needs to be edited every time there was a new model, new BIOS version or new Driver Package (requirement #3). Every time a Task Sequence changes, it has the possibility of stopping imaging for the environment while replication takes place. If you have a small environment, this may be okay, but in a large environment it can be like stopping a production assembly line (not good). Next, the solution needs to be able to support BIOS versions and Driver Packages that are marked as production, as well as support BIOS versions and Driver Packages that are pre-production (requirement #4). This way a proper Test > QA > Pilot > Production methodology can be carried out using the current production Task Sequence (this is the Total Control part). If you look at the BIOS releases or driver releases over the past two years, you will notice that the hardware vendors have been busy releasing updates. As newer versions of Windows 10 get released, the vendors usually release new drivers starting a month after the CB release. Lastly, the solution needs to be intuitive and easy to use so that it can be managed by junior level administrators (requirement #5).

At the 2016 Midwest Management Summit, I had come up with a solution that covered most of the above requirements for doing the BIOS updates. At the time, I had split each of the vendors because it made it more modular, but also because some vendors (to remain nameless) at the time did not support flashing under WinPE x64. The only thing that I did not have figured out was how to do the dynamic content location request. In the Task Sequence below, I was cheating by creating a dummy group handle the CLR (the dummy group is one that does not execute but the TS does not know it and will still do the CLR at the start of the TS).

image

Little did I know, the step that I was using to get the content locations for the BIOS packages (Download Package Content), actually can do a dynamic content location request (I learned this during a trip to Redmond last November). Fast forward a bit and this is what the Flash BIOS portion of the Task Sequence looks like now:

image

Now, ‘how do drivers fit into this?’ you say. Well, the same concepts can be applied – in fact, drivers are even easier. For a Wipe-n-Load Task Sequence, we can now do driver management in three easy steps:

image

And for an In-Place Upgrade Task Sequence, driver management can be done in two easy steps all using the same process:

image

So by now you are probably thinking that this is all too good to be true and there has to be a catch. No catch – it is really this simple. In Configuration Manager Dynamic Drivers & BIOS Management with Total Control Part 2, I go into detail on how to set up, configure and use the solution.

Originally posted on https://miketerrill.net/

Windows 10 BIOS to UEFI In-place Upgrade Task Sequence using MBR2GPT

At the Midwest Management Summit 2017, I gave a session called Building the Ultimate Windows 10 UEFI Task Sequence. In this session, I covered both types of BIOS to UEFI Task Sequences – Wipe-and-Load and In-place Upgrade. This blog is going to cover the In-place Upgrade version of the BIOS to UEFI Task Sequence. This Task Sequence will use variables that I previously wrote about in the blog posts: BIOS and Secure Boot State Detection during a Task Sequence Part 1 & Part 2, as the goal is to have a single Task Sequence that covers the various scenarios. In addition, this blog also replaces the original blog I wrote, Using MBR2GPT with Configuration Manager OSD, when I first discovered MBR2GPT in one of the Windows Insider builds.

When converting from BIOS to UEFI, it is best to do this after the system has been upgraded to Windows 10. The version of Windows 10 does not matter, although, it should be a version that is still supported. Also, even though MBR2GPT will run in the full OS (starting with Windows 10 1703), it is a best practice recommendation to run it from WinPE (version 1703 or later). The reason for this is that there can be other applications on the system that use filter drivers for disk access (antivirus, antimalware, 3rd party disk encryption and other 3rd party p2p solutions). These applications could interfere with the disk conversion and potentially cause a failure, therefore, always run MBR2GPT in WinPE for best results.

Typically, a Boot Image is not assigned to an In-place Upgrade Task Sequence. However, since we are going to use WinPE as part of our Task Sequence, a WinPE 1703 (or later) Boot Image should be assigned to the Task Sequence. Also, it is important to use the 64-bit Boot Image when running on a 64-bit UEFI System.

The basic flow goes like this after the OS has been upgraded:
Disable BitLocker
Set BIOS and Secure Boot Variables
Restart into WinPE (if running Legacy BIOS)
BIOS to UEFI
Run MBR2GPT (if running Legacy BIOS)
Configure BIOS Firmware Settings
Restart into Windows
Re-enable BitLocker

If you are not using BitLocker, then you can skip the two BitLocker groups. Also, even though this process works with BitLocker using earlier algorithms, if you are coming from a version of Windows before Windows 10 1511 (like when coming from Windows 7), then you might want to consider the new encryption type AES-XTS (see the blog BitLocker: AES-XTS new encryption type for more information). Moving to the new encryption type will require decryption/re-encryption of the drive.

Disable BitLocker

The reason for putting this Group in after the OS has upgraded is to cover the scenario when coming from Windows 7. As I mentioned in my blog How to detect, suspend, and re-enable BitLocker during a Task Sequence, the built in Disable BitLocker Task Sequence step on suspends BitLocker for one reboot. Therefore, I run this Group one more time just incase BitLocker was re-enabled after the In-place Upgrade.

Set BIOS and Secure Boot Variables

I cover these steps in detail in the two blogs mentioned above, but the two variables that get used in the BIOS to UEFI Group are BIOSMode and SecureBootState.

Restart into WinPE (if running Legacy BIOS)

On this step, we only need to reboot if the system is running in Legacy BIOS Mode. If it is running in UEFI Hybrid or UEFI Native without Secure Boot, the disk will already be configured for GPT. On the Options tab, add the condition: Task Sequence Variable BIOSMode equals “LegacyBIOS” (Note: you could also use _SMSTSBootUEFI equals FALSE, but having LegacyBIOS is easier to find in log files, status messages and is easier for help desk personal to understand). Also add the hardware manufacturers that you want to support. This is important because you cannot convert BIOS to UEFI on a GEN 1 Hyper-V VM and you will probably want to test the rest of the Task Sequence on a VM outside of the BIOS to UEFI steps.

BIOS to UEFI

On this Group, we only need to perform BIOS to UEFI or BIOS Firmware Settings if the system is running Legacy BIOS, UEFI Hybrid or UEFI Native without Secure Boot. On the Options tab, add the condition: Task Sequence Variable SecureBootState not equals “Enabled”. Once again, also add the hardware manufacturers that you want to support.

MBR2GPT (if running Legacy BIOS)

I like to run this step prior to configuring the BIOS settings. Secure Boot can be programmatically enabled, however per the specification it cannot be programmatically disabled. If you enable Secure Boot prior to running converting the disk and MBR2GPT is not able to convert the disk for some reason (like too many MBR partitions, see my blog Configuration Manager OSD, Recovery Partitions and MBR2GPT), then the machine will require a desk side visit to reset the BIOS settings and manually disable Secure Boot.

This step will run under WinPE. MBR2GPT can be called directly using a Run Command Line step since it is in the path in WinPE. If dealing with systems that do not install the OS on disk 0, then you will need to create multiple steps and put the necessary conditions on each. MBR2GPT will generate useful log files and I like to save them in the Task Sequence log directory (_SMSTSLogPath). This way they will be available after the Task Sequence runs. On the Option tab, add the condition: Task Sequence Variable BIOSMode equals “LegacyBIOS. This will ensure that this step only runs under this condition. Note: we could have also used and/or added _SMSTSinWinPE equals “TRUE”. Also enable Continue on error. This is important because we do not necessarily want the entire In-Place Upgrade to fail just because MBR2GPT was not able to run. If it is a hard failure, then the Task Sequence will definitely not continue as the system will probably no longer boot up.

Configure BIOS Firmware Settings

In the Firmware Settings Group, you will add your own BIOS settings commands, utilities or tools. These commands, utilities and tools can run in a full OS or WinPE. If you use Dell systems, please see my previous blog post Automating Dell BIOS-UEFI Standards for Windows 10 for the commands (and order) of switching the UEFI settings using the Dell CCTK (aka Command Monitor). On the Option tab, add the condition: Task Sequence Variable _SMSTSLastActionSucceeded equals “TRUE”. This will ensure that this group is only entered if the previous step that runs was successful. In the case of a Legacy BIOS system, if MBR2GPT is not successful, we want the Task Sequence to continue, but we do not want to flip the BIOS settings to UEFI and enable Secure Boot. In the other case of a system running UEFI Hybrid or UEFI Native without Secure Boot, it will run if the previous non-skipped step was successful. NOTE: It is important to be running the latest BIOS version and BIOS utilities for best results. Also, be sure to account for BIOS passwords if used in your environment. It is best to disable the BIOS passwords and then re-enable them at the end of the process.

Restart into Windows

After the Firmware Settings are changed, a system reboot is required for them to be applied. This restart will boot the system back into Windows 10.

Re-enable BitLocker

Once the system has been configured for UEFI Native with Secure Boot and booted back up into Windows 10, it is time to re-enable BitLocker. The Re-enable BitLocker Group will run in a full OS and only if the OSDBitLockerStatus equals “Protected”. This variable gets set earlier in the Task Sequence before the operating system is upgrade. For more information, see my blog How to detect, suspend, and re-enable BitLocker during a Task Sequence.

MBR2GPT and BitLocker

If you read the Microsoft documentation for using MBR2GPT, they only tell you that you need to delete the existing protectors and recreate them (they don’t mention that you need to reset the Windows Recovery Environment to generate a new reagent.xml and update the bcd). They do not really give any clear guidance on how to do this.

Reset Windows Recovery Environment

Resetting the Windows Recovery Environment only needs to be done when using MBR2GPT with BitLocker. On the Option tab, add the condition: Task Sequence Variable BIOSMode equals “LegacyBIOS”.

I have seen some forum posts on the internet that talk about deleting the ReAgent.xml file (found in C:Windows\System32\Recovery). Windows will re-create this file on the next reboot and it should modify the bcd file accordingly. However, I prefer to update it (and the bcd) by simply disabling WinRE and re-enabling it. I also display the status after re-enabling it. Each of these commands will pipe output to the smsts.log and also CM Status Messages. For clarity they are split in three different steps.

Reset BitLocker Protectors for MBR2GPT

Just like Resetting the Windows Recovery Environment, resetting the BitLocker Protectors only needs to be done when using MBR2GPT with BitLocker. On the Option tab, add the condition: Task Sequence Variable BIOSMode equals “LegacyBIOS”.

Now we just need to delete the BitLocker protectors. This can be done by running the following command: manage-bde -protectors -delete c:

It is extremely important to perform a restart after deleting the BitLocker protectors and before enabling BitLocker. If it is not done in this order, the system will prompt for the BitLocker recovery key on the next reboot.

Enable BitLocker

The last thing to do in the Re-enable BitLocker Group is to enable the BitLocker protectors. This can be done using the native Enable BitLocker Task Sequence step. Since the operating system drive is already encrypted, just the BitLocker protectors are being created and/or enabled (depending on the scenario).

In summary, this approach will cover multiple upgrade scenarios, including BIOS to UEFI, when performing an in-place upgrade to Windows 10.

Originally posted on https://miketerrill.net/

Upgrading the BIOS Part 2

In Upgrading the BIOS Part 1, I gave some very important reasons why you should be proactive about upgrading the BIOS on supported systems in your environment. In this blog, I want to discuss the approach to flashing the BIOS along with some lessor understood caveats as it relates to BitLocker, BIOS passwords and UEFI 64-bit systems.

Any solution that I create and implement, I like it to be as modular as possible so that I can get maximum use out of it (it is the engineer in me and probably the reason that I still enjoy playing with Legos at my age). When flashing the BIOS, we need to be able to do it under two different operating systems – a full operating system like Windows 7/8.1/10 and a lightweight operating system called WinPE. This will allow us to handle existing clients that are already deployed and also bare metal/break fix scenarios. After all, it would not make much sense to have to boot into a full operating system just to flash the BIOS. Other solutions that I found relied on Configuration Manager Applications and Package/Programs. While these may work for specific scenarios, they cannot cover all scenarios. The Install Application and Install Package task sequence steps only run under a full operating system and not WinPE, so those methods eliminate the bare metal scenarios. Sure, we could create another task sequence or a duplicate package that just does bare metal, but now we have twice as much to manage, update and maintain – no thanks!

Now, there is a slight disclaimer that I need to put out there for the time being. Because of certain limitations with some vendor systems, plus the fact that Configuration Manager can only have one boot image assigned to a task sequence and that you need to use the correct boot image architecture to boot a UEFI system, then you will need to have a separate task sequence to handle the bare metal/break fix scenarios (or better yet, pressure the vendor into supporting 64-bit WinPE). The problem is some vendor models currently only support a 32-bit flash utility. If a system is configured for UEFI (or we are doing BIOS to UEFI in a single task – yes, this is possible now), then you need to use the corresponding boot image architecture. This is going to be 64-bit for modern PC systems (within the last four years or so). Long story short, be sure to check with the vendor of the models that you currently support in order to handle those exceptions (or get rid of them and buy something you can support).

Another important point, both the HP and Lenovo flash BIOS utilities require the WinPE-HTA component to be included in the WinPE boot image. Do not ask me why, I just know that it does not work without it. Just make sure that component is included and things should work just fine. Now Dell, HP and Lenovo do supply 32-bit and 64-bit flash BIOS utilities (with certain models being the exception), so you only need one task sequence if you have these vendors (and supported models). These are the only three vendors that I will be covering, but I will gladly take donated test systems of other vendors you would like me to test.

BIOS Passwords can be tricky. Usually you password protect something in the first place in order to make it secure. However, the flash BIOS utilities will take the password as a command line parameter or in some cases (HP) a bin file. Neither one of these methods are ideal for automation with Configuration Manager. A bin file is downloaded to the cache (or TS working directory) at some point in the process and you do not need the password in order to make changes (including clearing the password) as long as you have the bin file. Command lines get logged and there is nothing like having a password in clear text sitting in a log file. If you would like to see better handling/log file suppression, then head on over to UserVoice and vote up Secret task sequence variable value Exposed. I am not advocating to not use BIOS passwords, you should absolutely be using them in order to lock down settings that should not be changed (like Boot Order). You may have to get clever and write a compiled exe that masks the password(s) in your environment (yes – I know that even this can be cracked depending on how it is done, but at least it is more secure than clear text log files or bin files). Lastly, if dealing with multiple passwords, most of the vendors allow three tries before requiring a reboot and attempting again. If you have multiple passwords in the environment, have a group in the Task Sequence that removes the password before flashing the BIOS. You typically only get one shot specifying a password when flashing the BIOS, so this is a way to overcome this limitation.

When it comes to BitLocker, it will need to be suspended before flashing the BIOS (which is one of the reasons I like using a Task Sequence). If it is not suspended prior, BitLocker will detect a change to the system, and then be prepared to enter the BitLocker recovery key upon restart. It is easy to suspend BitLocker but keep in mind the native Configuration Manager step only suspends BitLocker for one restart. Newer Windows operating systems will allow BitLocker to be suspended for x number of reboots or indefinitely. See my previous blog, called How to detect, suspend, and re-enable BitLocker during a Task Sequence, for more information and examples. For 3rd party disk encryption you are on your own. Your best bet is to contact the vendor on how they support flashing the BIOS. If they do not understand what you are asking, then start seeking alternative disk encryption products (like BitLocker).

So, here are my tips and tricks in a nutshell when flashing the BIOS:

  • Use a task sequence for total control.
  • Incorporate flashing the BIOS into your OSD process for Refresh/In-place Upgrade/New Computer/Break-Fix.
  • Suspend BitLocker!!! (or be prepared to enter the BitLocker recovery key)
  • Disable/re-enable BIOS passwords or use it in the command line of the flash utility (just be careful not to have passwords in clear text in log files or command lines).
  • Dell requires a utility called Flash64w in order to flash in WinPE x64 (see First look – Dell 64-bit Flash BIOS Utility).
  • HP and Lenovo system work on WinPE x64, but requires WinPE-HTA to work.
  • Test, test, test!
  • Baseline and document supported configurations (including how each setting is configured), current BIOS version and release date (this part is key).

In an upcoming blog series, I will be covering off some of my tips and tricks on how to deploy BIOS updates in a modular, dynamic fashion during a Task Sequence (bonus – the same method can be used for drivers as well).

Originally posted on https://miketerrill.net/

Upgrading the BIOS Part 1

Operating systems and software are not the only thing that needs to be upgraded these days. It is really important that the BIOS firmware gets updated as well. Lately, I have been talking to a lot of IT Pros at conferences and user group meetings and I have discovered that not too many people upgrade or ‘flash’ the BIOS on systems after they have already been deployed (or even ever – sometimes they are sent out with the version they came with from the vendor). It is really important to change this going forward. I recommend developing standard versions that you support so that all systems are running your minimum standard version or newer. Periodically, a review of BIOS releases should be done to see if a later version should become the new minimum standard.

So why even upgrade the BIOS in the first place? There are a few reasons that I can think of that answer this question. The first reason is Windows 10 support. Believe it or not, the hardware vendors test the latest operating systems on the models that they currently support. Take the Lenovo ThinkPad T450, looking in the BIOS release history, you can see that Windows 10 support was added for version 1.17:

<1.17> 2015/09/07
– (New) Added win10 support.
– (New) Enabled N25Q128 SPI ROM support.
– (New) Added security fix addresses LEN-2015-002 SMM “Incursion” Attack.
– (New) Included security fixies.
– (New) Added new incompatibility bit for Back Flash Prevention.

Now this does not mean that Windows 10 will not work on versions lower than version 1.17. It means that this is probably the version that they validated and tested Windows 10 against. If you happen to run into an issue running Windows 10 on a version lower than 1.17 and you call in for support, chances are they will have you upgrade the BIOS to the latest version to see if that addresses your issue.

The second reason to upgrade the BIOS is to get fixes. It makes sense to start off on one of the latest releases than it does to start off with a version that is a year or more behind in fixes. By not upgrading to a recent version as part of the deployment process, you are potentially wasting everyone’s time – the end user, help desk, desk side (and your time if the problem comes back to you). Save the hassle and be proactive. Looking at a newer BIOS release version for the same Lenovo ThinkPad T450, we see that there is even a ‘SCCM’ fix listed in version 1.19:

<1.19>
– (New) Updated verbtable for noise.
– (New) Changed Haswell + N16s Tolud.
– (New) Updated Winuptp & Winuptp64.
– (Fix) Fixed an issue that srsetupwin fails to install pop/hdp with clearing SVP.
– (Fix) Fixed an issue related to SCCM 80070490 error when HDP is set.
– (Fix) Fixed an issue related to silent install auto restart issue.

The third reason to upgrade the BIOS is to get security related fixes. Yes, they find and fix security fixes in the BIOS firmware just like they do in operating systems and software. Do your security team (and yourself) a favor and deploy versions that contain these security fixes. Looking at the BIOS release history for the HP EliteBook Folio 9470m, we can see some of these security fixes listed in this version:

Version:F.60 A (20 Jan 2015)
Fixes
– Fixes an intermittent issue where enabling the LAN/WLAN switching feature in the F10 BIOS settings causes the system to stop functioning properly (hang) at POST after a warm boot.

Enhancements
– Provides improved security of UEFI code and variables. HP strongly recommends transitioning promptly to this updated BIOS version which supersedes all previous releases.

NOTE: Due to security changes, after this BIOS update is installed, previous versions cannot be reinstalled.

Pay close attention to the note at the end of the release text – it states that previous versions cannot be reinstalled. What this means is that you can no longer ‘flash’ back to an earlier BIOS version. This is important when it comes to deploying BIOS and how we detect what systems need to be updated, but more on that later.

The fourth reason that comes to mind is has to do with manipulating the BIOS settings programmatically. I have written blogs and talked on the topic of using the vendor utilities to programmatically change the BIOS settings (like BIOS to UEFI) using a Configuration Manager task sequence. Just as it is important to standardize on the BIOS versions, you should also develop standards on how each BIOS setting should be configured in order to maintain consistency and ensure devices are configured accordingly. By running on the latest BIOS version, you will ensure that these utilities will work correctly and configure the settings correctly.

I am sure I can think of many more reasons why you should start baselining and upgrading the BIOS versions for the supported systems in your environment, but hopefully I have identified the top four reasons and have convinced you that this needs to be done on a regular basis. In the next blog, Upgrading the BIOS Part 2, I will discuss the approach to flashing the BIOS along with some lessor understood caveats as it relates to BitLocker, BIOS passwords and UEFI 64-bit systems.

Originally posted on https://miketerrill.net/

First look – Dell 64-bit Flash BIOS Utility

Dell Laptop

Update 2/14/2017: Dell has publicly posted a download link to the 64-bit BIOS Installation Utility (now called Flash64W.exe) and you can find it here: http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/enterprise-client/w/wiki/12237.64-bit-bios-installation-utility

Now that the cat is out of the bag that Dell has a 64-bit Flash BIOS Utility, I can finally blog about it. Earlier this week, Warren Byle of Dell announced the following on Twitter:

So there you have it, the wait is over (of course, after you get off the phone with Dell support) and you can now flash the Dell BIOS in 64-bit. You are probably thinking ‘big deal, I could do that already – flash the BIOS on 64-bit Windows 10’. Yea, you are right since full 64-bit Windows has a 32-bit subsystem, but the real magic is being able to flash the BIOS under WinPE. If your system is running UEFI (or you have a UEFI conversion Task Sequence), then it needs to boot the native architecture (in this case 64-bit). By only having a 32-bit flash BIOS utility before meant that we were unable to flash under WinPE x64. The Dell 64-bit Flash BIOS Utility is a much welcome (and needed) addition to the IT toolbox (thanks Warren)!

Using the tool is pretty simple, you use it in addition to the BIOS exe that you have already downloaded. I’ll cover off how I use it in a Configuration Manager Package in another post, but for now, here is how you use it:

001-flashupdatewin64

I used the following command line under WinPE x64 to silently flash a Dell OptiPlex 7040 from version 1.4.5 to 1.5.4:

FlashUpDateWin64.exe /b=OptiPlex_7040_1.5.4.exe /s /f /l=1.5.4.txt

Which wrote the following output:

***BIOS flash started on 1/31/2017 at 18:38:32***
Command: F:\FlashUpDateWin64.exe /b=OptiPlex_7040_1.5.4.exe /s /f /l=1.5.4.txt

1.4.5 INSTALLED (Dell System OptiPlex 7040)
– Gigabit Ethernet : 0.8
– Intel Management Engine (VPro) Update : 11.0.18.1002
– System BIOS with BIOS Guard  : 1.4.5
1.5.4 UPDATE ( OptiPlex 7040)
– System BIOS with BIOS Guard  : 1.5.4
– Gigabit Ethernet : 0.8
– Intel Management Engine (VPro) Update : 11.0.18.1002
– System Map : 1.0.1
– PCR0 XML : 0.0.0.1

Exit Code = 2 (Reboot Required)
***BIOS flash finished at 1/31/2017 at 18:38:41***

I hope you are as excited as me about this new *SHINY* utility from Dell. Happy 64-bit BIOS flashing!

Originally posted on https://miketerrill.net/

Using MBR2GPT with Configuration Manager OSD

devices-windows-10-creators-update-banner

[Update 4/5/2017] This post was based on the MBR2GPT that was released with the Windows Insider build 15007. There are a few things that have changed since then – the /silent switch has been replaced with the /convert switch. Also, it is highly recommended to run MBR2GPT from WinPE 1703 (this is required for earlier versions of Windows 10 – 1507, 1511, 1610). Look out for a new post on using this tool with Configuration Manager (including how to use it with BitLocker systems).

In my previous post, Getting Started with MBR2GPT, I showed a first look at the MBR to GPT conversion utility that is going to be released with the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update. In this post, I am going to show how it can be integrated with a Configuration Manager OSD Task Sequence. In this test, I reset my test machine back to Legacy BIOS and disabled Secure Boot. Next, I installed build 15002 of the Windows 10 Enterprise Insider Preview, joined it to my test domain and installed the Configuration Manager 1610 client.

Starting off simple, the goal was to see if I could run MBR2GPT in a simple Task Sequence and automate what I did manually in the previous post. The first thing I did was add MBR2GPT.EXE to my 1E BIOS to UEFI OEM Toolkit Package – since I need to change the BIOS settings, it made sense to just add it to this package. The next step was to create a custom, simple Task Sequence – one that I can later just copy into a Windows 10 In-place Upgrade Task Sequence. The end result looks like this:

001-using-mbr2gpt

For the Options on this Group, I put the following Conditions:

002-using-mbr2gpt

I only want to run this on a Dell, HP or Lenovo that is currently running Legacy BIOS (no need to run it if the system is already UEFI).

The next step is to run MBR2GPT. This is the same command that I ran manually, but I added the /silent switch so that it would run without prompting for input:

003-using-mbr2gpt

Next, I run my 1E BIOS to UEFI OEM step (available to 1E Nomad customers) to configure the necessary BIOS settings. In this case I want to enable Secure Boot as well. The nice thing about this step is that conditions can be added so there can be multiple configuration – for example, one with Secure Boot and maybe one without Secure Boot (for systems that might have conflicts with Secure Boot because of bad video card drivers).

004-using-mbr2gpt

The last thing to do is reboot after running both of these steps in order for the configurations to take effect.

005-using-mbr2gpt

Running this Task Sequence on my test system yielded the following in the smsts.log where we can see that MBR2GPT ran successfully:

006-using-mbr2gpt

Adding this into an in-place upgrade Task Sequence might look something like this:

007-using-mbr2gpt

Keep in mind that this is only part of the Windows Insider release right now and should not be used in production, but initial tests seem to show promising results. Also, there are still some blockers for being able to use in-place upgrade like I mentioned in the previous post. Have a plan on how you plan on handling applications that need to be uninstalled, upgraded and replaced. In other words, just because you can do in-place upgrade, do you still want that old version of Office on your shiny new Windows 10 OS? In addition, Windows 10 content is going to have a massive impact to your network. Not just the Feature Updates, but the Quality Updates (i.e. security patches) are likely to have the biggest impact (especially if you have to patch multiple versions of Windows 10). Look into using a peer to peer solution (like 1E Nomad) sooner rather than later. Lastly, chances are, you are going to have to support multiple deployment methods in your environment – make sure the tools (and vendor) you choose is capable of handling all of them seamlessly (don’t settle for cheap knock offs – you get what you pay for and can open up your network to unwanted security vulnerabilities). Baremetal for new computers and break/fix, hardware refresh/replacement, wipe-and-load, and in-place upgrade.

Originally posted on https://miketerrill.net/

Getting Started with MBR2GPT

devices-windows-10-creators-update-banner

In my previous post, BIOS to UEFI made easier with Windows 10 Creators Update, I uncovered a hidden gem in the 15007 build of the Windows 10 Enterprise Insider Preview called MBR2GPT. The benefits of this MBR to GPT conversion utility is that it makes it easier to convert systems from BIOS to UEFI and be able to take advantage of all the security features that comes in Windows 10 like Secure Boot, Device Guard and Credential Guard (to name a few). Currently, in order to stay supported by Microsoft, the hard disk needs to be completely repartitioned and formatted when switching from MBR to GPT. This is a destructive process and requires the user data to be backed up off of the hard drive, applications to be re-installed and then the user data restored once the new OS is up and running. Without the proper tools (shameless plug – see the 1e Windows 10 Now Solution), this can be a cumbersome task.

You still want to put some thought into applications as it relates to an in-place upgrade. There will be some applications that will be upgrade blockers (mainly 3rd party antivirus that is not compatible with the Windows 10 in-place upgrade process or 3rd party disk encryption) and need to be uninstalled prior to the in-place upgrade. There will also be applications that you will want upgraded – do you really want to run Office 2003 which may have been your standard on Windows 7 on Windows 10 or would you like to uplift it to Office 365 as part of the process? You might also want to replace an application with a less costly application (like swapping an expensive FTP client with a less expensive one). And lastly, you might want to uninstall applications that are not used in order to reduce your security foot print and eliminate unnecessary patching. These are things to consider when venturing down the in-place upgrade deployment method.

Applications aside for now, let’s get back to MBR2GPT…

You are probably wondering what are the options for using this utility – well, I can tell you if you have already deployed Windows 10 to BIOS systems you are fortunately in luck. Also, if you have not even started your Windows 10 upgrade, you are also in luck. The basic upgrade process will look like the following:

Windows* running on BIOS > In-place upgrade to Windows 10 (probably Creators Update) – still running BIOS at this point > MBR2GPT > Vendor BIOS Settings > Reboot > Windows 10 running UEFI.

Where Windows* is any version that supports upgrading to a Windows 10 version that supports MBR2GPT (like Windows 7 SP1 x64, Windows 8/8.1 x64 and previous versions of Windows 10-1507/1511/1607).

Now that we have that covered, let’s see how this tool actually runs. Below, I have an Insiders build of Windows 10 Creators Update (note that this is build 15002 and that MBR2GPT is in 15007). As you can see, BIOS Mode is Legacy and there is a single hard disk with Master Boot Record(MBR) volume:

001-getting-started-mbr2gpt

I have copied the MBR2GPT utility from a 15007 build on to the C: drive of this system. Running MBR2GPT.exe /? displays the following help output:

001-mbr2gpt

First thing I want to do here is test it using the /validate switch to see if it is actually going to work and what kind of output is going to be displayed by running:

MBR2GPT.EXE /disk:0 /validate /allowFullOS

This results in the following on-screen output:

002-getting-started-mbr2gpt

And the following output is logged in %windir% in the setupact.log:

003-getting-started-mbr2gpt

Now, I am going to run the command without the /validate switch. Notice the additional output on the command line and refreshing the disk volume properties shows it to be GUID Partition Table (GPT):

004-getting-started-mbr2gpt

Next, this is where we would run the vendor tool to change the correct BIOS settings (we will do that later in a Task Sequence when we automate the process), but for now I am going to reboot and hit the proper key to get into the BIOS settings.

After making the necessary changes (and I even enabled Secure Boot), notice that System Information displays the BIOS Mode as UEFI with Secure Boot State set to On:

005-getting-started-mbr2gpt

This first look at the MBR2GPT conversion utility looks very promising. Hopefully in the coming months as we get closer to the release of Windows 10 Creators Update we will start to get more information on it as well as what versions of Windows 10 will support it.

In my next blog, Using MBR2GPT with Configuration Manager OSD, I am going to show how we can integrate MBR2GPT into an OSD Task Sequence.

Originally posted on https://miketerrill.net/