A. In the FAQ "How can I capture an OS image by using the Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) OS Deployment Feature Pack?" I explain how to capture an OS image and deploy it to new machines. However, deploying an OS image to existing clients that run Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0 is a bit different.

If the clients are running Win2K or later or NT 4.0 Service Pack 6a (SP6a) and have the SMS 2003 SP1 client installed, you can push an OS to machines as if it were an application. To do so, you must first create the OS program according to the instructions in the FAQ "How can I capture an OS image by using the Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) OS Deployment Feature Pack?" Next, follow these steps to create an advertisement that will push the upgrade to the SMS clients.

  1. Start the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) SMS Administrator Console snap-in. (Start, Programs, Systems Management Server, SMS Administrator Console.)
  2. Right-click Advertisements and select New, Advertisement.
  3. Go to the General tab. Select the name of the OS package you created. Then select a program from that OS package (A program is a defined set of settings for the package (e.g., product key, domain membership) and a collection to target, which is the set of computers to which you want push the Upgrade. For example, if you're upgrading to Windows XP, the target collection might be all Windows 2000 Professional systems, as the figure shows.
  4. Click OK.

At the next scheduled refresh, clients will see the new advertisement and can opt to install the OS. You can choose to automatically install the upgrade by setting a mandatory installation time as you would for regular application advertisements. (Or you can force discovery of the advertisement from client machines by initiating the Machine Policy Retrieval & Evaluation Cycle if you don't want to wait for the standard time period for policy refresh to occur.)

This upgrade process wipes out the existing OS and replaces it with the new OS instead of upgrading the existing OS. Therefore, you lose any user profiles or locally stored applications. If you want to retain the user profiles on the client, you need to back up the profiles before you upgrade the OS by using the instructions in the FAQ "How can I back up and restore user profiles when deploying a new OS via the Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) OS Deployment Feature Pack?"