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If you have skipped ahead and taken a look at the objectives for this exam, then you know that Exam 70-683 does not have as many objectives as some of the other Windows 7 exams. In fact, the entire exam focuses primarily on four key areas.

The first area that you need to be familiar with is preparing the OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK) environment. In case you are not familiar with the OEM Preinstallation Kit, it is a set of tools that allow OEMs to customize and automate a Windows installation, which you can download here.

As you can imagine, Microsoft expects you to be very familiar with the OEM Preinstallation Kit. You need to know how to install and configure its various tools. You should also be familiar with the tool’s underlying requirements. For instance, you need to be aware of the hardware and software requirements for both the OEM Preinstallation Kit and for Windows 7.

The second area that the exam covers focuses on creating a base image. Although Microsoft makes it relatively easy to create a default base image, this exam assumes that you will be customizing virtually every aspect of the base image. As such, you will need to know how to add OEM-specific elements such as logos, wallpapers, support information, help files, and even recovery programs.

This second area of the exam also tests your ability to create automated answer files. An automated answer file is used to automatically provide answers to questions that are commonly asked during setup so that the customer is not prompted to answer the question. For example, automated answer files are often used to configure time zones, screen resolutions, and desktop settings.

This portion of the exam also covers automating the installation of things other than the Windows 7 operating system. OEMs commonly integrate things like device drivers, trial applications, and software updates into their deployment images, so Microsoft tests you on your ability to do so.

The third area of the exam is all about configuring the image for deployment. A lot of the material that is associated with this particular objective is covered by other objectives. However, you do need to know how to use SYSPREP and the Deployment Image Servicing Management Tool (DISM) to generalize and validate a captured image.

The final area on which you will be tested has to do with deploying and updating the image. One of the main ideas behind this objective is that a lot of work goes into building a deployment image, but the image is useless unless you know how to deploy it. As such, you need to be familiar with what is involved in preparing the installation source. You also need to know what deployment tools are available to you and when it is appropriate to use each tool.

The other thing that this objective focuses on is the idea that images need to evolve over time. Since it is a lot of work to create a deployment image from scratch, Microsoft expects you to know how to modify an existing deployment image. That way you can add patches and other updated software to the image without completely rebuilding it.

As you can see, the one central theme within Exam 70-683 is image management. Anyone who is familiar with Microsoft’s various imaging and deployment tools and who has hands on experience with those tools should do quite well on this exam.

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