SCCM OSD: The case of the nightmare desktop

Recently, a client has been mentioning some issues they’ve had when doing image testing on a new desktop model.  I came in to help sort out the issue, and it was quite an experience!  We received all sorts of errors, many were quite puzzling.  In the end, this desktop (the HP ProDesk 6oo G1 SFF / Small Form Factor) and the issues around it tested every element of my SCCM OSD Troubleshooting knowledge.  

Now that the matter has been solved, I’ll detail out the symptom and cause of each error:

On PXE Booting, the Task Sequence window never loads

Whenever a new model comes in to the environment, we always check to see if the machine can boot off of the drivers already imported into the wim.  In this case, the tech burned a disc using the old WIM, and once WinPE started, we were unable to connect to the SCCM Policy Provider to see what advertisements are available.

Test via: launching a command prompt (F8 if enabled on the WinPE WIM) and check to see if the system has an IP Address

When a Task Sequence is selected, it immediately fails

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Differences in WinPE Versions

I ran into an issue at a client in which the person who setup their SCCM infrastructure left and I needed to determine which version of WinPE we using for our Task Sequence.

You can see the WinPE OS version under Computer Management\Operating System Deployment\Boot Images\Boot Image Name, Properties, but that doesn’t really tell you which version of Windows PE you are using, and you might need to know that from time to time.  For instance, if you’re using Dell or HP’s Driver CAB files, they are distributed based on WinPE version for underlying OS compatibility.

WinPE

The primary difference in WinPE versions is the core kernel code that WinPE is built from.  This is important to note, as certain utilities may not work on older versions of WinPE.

In case you haven’t memorized all of the system major release version numbers of Windows, I’ve complied the below chart to assist you, slacker.

WinPE Version # PE Version Derived From
WinPE 1.5 5.1.x Win XP SP2
WinPE 2.0 6.0.x Vista
WinPE 3.0 6.1.7600.16385 Windows 7
WinPE 4.0 6.2.x Windows 8
WinPE 5.0 6.3.x Windows 8.1?