Driver and BIOS updates have always been an annoyance. Several years back, Dell introduced downloadable driver packs, allowing administrators to get the most current drivers and BIOS updates for the specific equipment installed in the organization. These driver packs could be used to generate standard corporate images, or deployed through the company's management mechanism. In the majority of use cases, customers using the driver packs also used System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT).

Dell's driver and BIOS service was so successful that other vendors were forced to follow suit. HP eventually got on board after customer outcry of "Dell can do it…why can't you?", and then Lenovo followed suit. Unfortunately, Lenovo's offering has been wrought with problems. Just visit the company's support forums to get a hint at customer issues. There are threads there that have been continuing for a couple years.

Today, Dell is seeking to make the process even easier with the release of the Driver Pack Catalog into beta.

The Driver Pack Catalog is an XML file that contains metadata about newly released Dell systems and WinPE Driver Packs. Stored locally, administrators can choose which models (supports Dell Tablets, Latitude, Optiplex, and Precision systems) to automatically download. So, instead of having to schedule to check the Dell site periodically, just download the latest Driver Pack Catalog.

In a Wiki post, Dell goes through the specifics about the Driver Pack Catalog, including providing some PowerShell scripts for downloading the most current XML file, how to extract the XML file from the .cab file, how locate specific models and systems in the XML file, and also how to download the required driver packs.

The Wiki post is here: Driver Pack Catalog

It also includes links to download the DriverPackCatalog.cab over both http and ftp.

A future release of a ConfigMgr integration pack will leverage this catalog to simplify driver management.

See it in action!  Community member Dustin Hedges has worked with the new catalog already. Check out: Downloading Dell Driver CAB files automagically with the Driver Pack Catalog