Imaging x86-only tablet PCs is a massive pain

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The bad thing about having 32-bit UEFI-only tablets is that you don’t really have much of a choice but to build your Windows image on one of them.

I normally keep reference machines living in my Hyper-V cluster to easily install software and updates every month. With this setup, I can keep the Windows installations up to date, get a checkpoint of the VM before capturing the new image, and roll back so I don’t a) have to go through OOBE again and b) don’t blow through the very limited number of licensing rearms you get.

However, booting 32-bit Windows 8.1 on UEFI requires the firmware have a Compatibility Support Module. Since the UEFI implementation in Hyper-V doesn’t have a CSM, only 64-bit operating systems boot on it. While I only have to optimize the install.wim from the Windows installation media for WIMBoot once, I have to apply that vanilla image every month to a Venue 11 tablet and install every Windows update known to man on it before capturing.

I’m glad we don’t have to purchase any more x86-only tablets. Dell has since released a Venue 11 5130 tablet that supports 64-bit operating systems, so with those I can just boot them to the network and use SCCM to image them just like every other computer we have.

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