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Upgrading to MDT 2013, do I still need MBR in my task sequences?

    Question

  • So we are gearing up for our MDT 2013 upgrade and we are finally kicking all the legacy OS deployments to the curb. We are only going to support deployments of Windows 7 x86, Windows 7 x64, and Windows 8.1 x64. We are deploying several surfaces that require GPT for the OS volume. I'd prefer to avoid the creation of separate task sequences for GPT/MBR formatting. What would be the consequences of kicking MBR to the curb and switching all my task sequences to GPT? Does GPT require UEFI in order to boot?
    Friday, October 25, 2013 9:31 PM

Answers

  • Yes, booting from GPT requires UEFI, and UEFI requires GPT.  So you would use GPT for UEFI systems, MBR for BIOS-based systems.

    If you use the standard MDT task sequence (specifying a single partition for 100% of the free disk space), MDT will automatically do the right thing:  On BIOS-based systems, it will create two partitions (boot and OS) on an MBR disk; on UEFI-based systems, it will create four partitions (boot, MSR, recovery, OS) on a GPT disk.

    If you specify a custom disk partition layout (e.g. you want 50% OS and 50% data), then you would need two conditional steps (one with IsUEFI=True, one with IsUEFI=False) to create the needed structures.


    Thanks,
    -Michael Niehaus
    Senior Product Marketing Manager, Windows Deployment
    http://blogs.technet.com/mniehaus
    mniehaus@microsoft.com

    Friday, October 25, 2013 9:44 PM
  • MDT 2010 Update 1 included the initial UEFI support, but MDT 2012 did improve on that.  If using the default disk config, you can definitely use a single task sequence for UEFI (GPT) and non-UEFI (MBR) deployments, I do that all the time.


    Thanks,
    -Michael Niehaus
    Senior Product Marketing Manager, Windows Deployment
    http://blogs.technet.com/mniehaus
    mniehaus@microsoft.com

    • Marked as answer by ZeusABJ Monday, October 28, 2013 8:46 PM
    Monday, October 28, 2013 8:05 PM

All replies

  • Yes, booting from GPT requires UEFI, and UEFI requires GPT.  So you would use GPT for UEFI systems, MBR for BIOS-based systems.

    If you use the standard MDT task sequence (specifying a single partition for 100% of the free disk space), MDT will automatically do the right thing:  On BIOS-based systems, it will create two partitions (boot and OS) on an MBR disk; on UEFI-based systems, it will create four partitions (boot, MSR, recovery, OS) on a GPT disk.

    If you specify a custom disk partition layout (e.g. you want 50% OS and 50% data), then you would need two conditional steps (one with IsUEFI=True, one with IsUEFI=False) to create the needed structures.


    Thanks,
    -Michael Niehaus
    Senior Product Marketing Manager, Windows Deployment
    http://blogs.technet.com/mniehaus
    mniehaus@microsoft.com

    Friday, October 25, 2013 9:44 PM
  • Yes, booting from GPT requires UEFI, and UEFI requires GPT.  So you would use GPT for UEFI systems, MBR for BIOS-based systems.

    If you use the standard MDT task sequence (specifying a single partition for 100% of the free disk space), MDT will automatically do the right thing:  On BIOS-based systems, it will create two partitions (boot and OS) on an MBR disk; on UEFI-based systems, it will create four partitions (boot, MSR, recovery, OS) on a GPT disk.

    If you specify a custom disk partition layout (e.g. you want 50% OS and 50% data), then you would need two conditional steps (one with IsUEFI=True, one with IsUEFI=False) to create the needed structures.


    Thanks,
    -Michael Niehaus
    Senior Product Marketing Manager, Windows Deployment
    http://blogs.technet.com/mniehaus
    mniehaus@microsoft.com

    Hey Michael,

    Thanks for responding (BTW - love your blog and TechEd talks). So it sounds like I'm just operating from a failed assumption. A few months back we got a handful of Surface Pros to test out for a big future project. Our first attempt at imaging resulted in a bricked device. Honestly we were never 100% sure if the device itself was just a dud or if we did something wrong in the deployment. A member of my team noted that the "Format and Partition Disk" section of the task sequence defaulted to "Standard (MBR)". He recalled reading somewhere that Windows 8 required GPT on the Surface Pro hardware (which we naturally now know is due to UEFI, but we did not fully understand that at the time).

    So we created a new task sequence with GPT as default for our next attempt at imaging the Surface Pro and it worked flawlessly! Since then we've been maintaining two task sequences for our Windows 8 deployments (one for MBR and one for GPT). Obviously this has doubled our work when it comes to task sequence edits for Windows 8 deployments. The goal of this post to the MDT forums was to (hopefully) establish a way to eliminate the need for one of those task sequences. If I'm hearing you right as long as we leave the "Format and Partition Disk" section alone (or as the 100% OSDisk default) MDT should just be able to determine whatever partition schema is needed and apply it automatically? If so is that a new feature in MDT 2012? I'm just wondering if we have been maintaining two task sequences all this time for nothing!

    • Edited by ZeusABJ Monday, October 28, 2013 6:36 PM
    Monday, October 28, 2013 6:32 PM
  • MDT 2010 Update 1 included the initial UEFI support, but MDT 2012 did improve on that.  If using the default disk config, you can definitely use a single task sequence for UEFI (GPT) and non-UEFI (MBR) deployments, I do that all the time.


    Thanks,
    -Michael Niehaus
    Senior Product Marketing Manager, Windows Deployment
    http://blogs.technet.com/mniehaus
    mniehaus@microsoft.com

    • Marked as answer by ZeusABJ Monday, October 28, 2013 8:46 PM
    Monday, October 28, 2013 8:05 PM
  • MDT 2010 Update 1 included the initial UEFI support, but MDT 2012 did improve on that.  If using the default disk config, you can definitely use a single task sequence for UEFI (GPT) and non-UEFI (MBR) deployments, I do that all the time.


    Thanks,
    -Michael Niehaus
    Senior Product Marketing Manager, Windows Deployment
    http://blogs.technet.com/mniehaus
    mniehaus@microsoft.com

    That's awesome Michael! I guess we should have looked into the issue more instead of just assuming it was something we had to do manually for all our Surface Pros. This will be a big time saver for us. That first Surface pro we imaged must have just been a dud.

    Thank you so much!

    Monday, October 28, 2013 8:45 PM
  • Hi Michael,

    So this may explain why the automatic GPT partitioning in MDT 2013 wasn't working for me on an EFI enabled system. I had the OSdisk partition, and an extra 15 gb Data partition set in the MDT "format and partition step". IE, I wasn't seeing the MSR, EFI partitions being created, I ended up using a custom step with a Diskpart script, and using GPT attributes to mark the recovery and Winretools as hidden ect. Extra work.

    I will try creating the Data parititon later on in my TS by shrinking my C: drive, with a diskpart script.

    I would really appreciate it if you could comment on this , and verify that the additional partition was the problem. I think it would help other folks out there with  MDT 2013 /Win 8 EFI deployments

    Cheers

    Barry

    Thursday, June 26, 2014 12:11 AM
  • Yes, if you modify the default "Format and Partition Disk" step so that it specifies anything other than a single partition that uses 100% of the free disk space, then it assumes you want exactly that configuration.

    My suggestion would be to copy the "Format and Partition Disk" step so that there are two of them, one for UEFI that specifies a condition of "IsUEFI = True" and one for BIOS that specifies "IsUEFI = False".

    But again, that's only necessary if you want something other than the default partition layout, which reserves as much space as possible for a single OS partition, which is what we recommend.  Data partitions are generally discouraged.


    Thanks,
    -Michael Niehaus
    Senior Product Marketing Manager, Windows Deployment
    http://blogs.technet.com/mniehaus
    mniehaus@microsoft.com

    Thursday, June 26, 2014 1:34 AM
  • Hi Michael,

    I will try your suggestion.

    Thank you for your answer. I wanted to clarify something you said in your last post. I noticed you instructed me to copy the "Default" format and partition step.

    Is that any different from creating a brand new Task sequence and copying it over from that new Task sequence, or creating a new Step from the menu options on a TS?

    Orginally I thought there could not be a difference, now I suspect otherwise. I am really fishing for answers, and if you read on you will see why.

    The reason being is, I built a new 2013 MDT share with the same Media, and ADK for 8.1 that I used in my orginal "problem" share.

    I built a similiar Windows 8.1 Task Sequence(deploying the same image as my other share.. In the DEFAULT Format and partition step, the only thing I changed was, I added a Data volume(and it was set to MBR/default). I test deployed this to a Surfacepro 2 (EFI only). The same computer I have been deploying to with my other TS. This TS detected the device was  UEFI and created all of the "special" volumes required by Windows 8.1,  IE:  System(EFI)/MSR/Windows RE and my data partition. It did exactly what I wanted it to do.

    The task sequence that I have had trouble with is using a step I created from the Menu options I deleted the orignal step ages ago as it wasn't doing what was required.  MDT will detect that the Device is UEFI, and then behave exactly as you indicated. Only creating the OSDISK and OSDATA. Even if I remove the extra Data partition from the step. MDT will not automatically create GPT partitions required by Windows 8.1 for a Surface Pro 2.

    So is there really a difference between the default step, and creating it from the menu, and /or a new task sequence, or is this a figment of my imagination? The options/properties TAB on both of the Format and partition steps are the same.

    I havent compared TS.xml files on both of the shares yet but , I may do that today.

    Do I really need to start using this new share?

     Unfortunately I have been instructed to create a data volume.

    Thanks in advance for your comments, you have been most helpful.



    • Edited by Barryt_jam Wednesday, July 02, 2014 5:11 PM
    Wednesday, July 02, 2014 4:37 PM
  • The important part is the configuration in the steps, especially the part that sets the OSDISK task sequence variable to contain the drive letter that was assigned.


    Thanks,
    -Michael Niehaus
    Senior Product Marketing Manager, Windows Deployment
    http://blogs.technet.com/mniehaus
    mniehaus@microsoft.com

    Friday, August 01, 2014 4:37 PM
  • HI Michael,

    I tried using drive letter, and the OSdisk variable, and they both behaved the same.

    It turns out that re-building my Deployment share solves the problem. I have no Idea why this fixed things but it did. I ran file comparisons on the shares and everything looks the same. The TS Im using is the same.

    Since then my new MDT TS creates the EFI partition, MSR, and WINRE partion by default when a EFI machine is detected.


    • Edited by Barryt_jam Thursday, August 14, 2014 7:59 PM
    Thursday, August 14, 2014 7:57 PM
  • Hi Michael,

    I really appreciate your contributions to these forums.

    We are switching over to MDT 2013 deployments of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 (for those lucky enough to get a Surface 3) in our environment due to our former 'enterprise deployment solution' which will remain nameless (*cough* Symantec *cough*) having extremely poor support for Windows 8 and 8.1.

    I was wondering if you could speak to your comment here about customizing the "Format and Partition" disk task(s) if needed and the implications. In our scenario, we would like to create the recommended Recovery Image partition and copy a custom recovery image with our base applications already installed if a user needs to do a Refresh of their Windows 8.1 device.  In our current testing, only 3 partitions are being created on our Surface 3's using the default settings (OSDisk, a WinREtools partition it looks like, and only one more, probably the boot partition).

    Since our Windows 8.1 devices are all UEFI, we could manually edit this step and force GPT disks to be created, but if I wanted to maintain an 'autodetect' of the BIOS type (for possible refreshes of current Win7 hardware), how would I implement the condition detection for the two tasks?

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014 10:31 PM
  • Recovery partitions are a bit tricky... THe idea is that you want to lay down the partition configuration first, and *then* shrink the main OS drive down by whatever size you require. Yes I know... Use the default MDT Litetouch in-box "Partition and Format" step, and it will automatically configuration for MBR and GPT as necesary.

    Check out the code in Mikes WimBoot solution to see how a recovery partition is created: http://blogs.technet.com/b/mniehaus/archive/2014/04/13/experimenting-with-wimboot-using-mdt-2013.aspx

    Additionally, note that you may not get a 100% perfect solution when implementing Windows Recovery in a MDT and/or SCCM environment. THis is because MDT and SCCM both do a lot of installation after the image has been applied down to the machine, things like Drivers and Applications. Windows recovery was designed more for OEM environments, where the OS Image is self-contained, and no post-apply steps are performed, so you users may not get a 100% working solution if they perform a recovery. This may be OK for some users who need to perform an emergency recovery so they can give a powerpoint presentation, but not for a full experience.


    Keith Garner - Principal Consultant [owner] - http://DeploymentLive.com

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014 10:31 PM
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