PXE booting without WDS & OSD enhancements in ConfigMgr current branch 1806

In this post we will talk about OSD specific enhancements in ConfigMgr Current Branch 1806, including the much anticipated ability to PXE boot clients without the need for WDS!

PXE OS Deployments – Without WDS

The requirement for WDS until this point was a limiting factor when designing your environment, basically if you wanted sites without server hardware and OS instances to worry about but wanted PXE you would have to look at third party solutions. This has been addressed in 1806 and you are now free to provision distribution points on Windows 10 workstations should you see fit, massively changing the design process.

This is really huge when you consider that many organisations can start planning a world where server hardware and operating systems are no longer a requirement for that small branch office on a slow link.

To enable WDS-less PXE booting simply follow the below when configuring a new DP or edited a pre-existing DP;

  1. Open the Configuration Manager console
  2. Go to the Administration tab
  3. Click on Overview / Site Configuration and select “Servers and Site System Roles
  4. Now select the site server you wish to edit and select the Distribution Point role, right click and click on Properties
  5. Click on the PXE tab and select the option “Enable a PXE responder without Windows Deployment Services
  6. You should now have a screen similar to the below;

Distribution Point PXE Settings

New Distribution Point

If you have a new distribution point you can simply enable PXE and check all the boxes, PXE will then be installed with no Windows Deployment Services console or service created. In the below example I have a fresh DP which has had the role added;

Once the role has been added, a new service “ConfigMgr PXE Responder Service” will appear

Once the boot images have been distributed you will now be able to boot from the DP;

Pre-Existing PXE-Enabled Distribution Point

Having removed the requirement for WDS, you should now see in the Windows Deployment Services console that the service has been suspended;

WDS Suspended

Deploy Windows

From the boot perspective there are a few subtle differences you will see when communicating with a WDS-less PXE DP, but other than the cosmetics you will get the same deployment experience;

Possible Bug

During tests with a distribution point which previously had WDS running, I received several task sequence request passwords which was strange as the DP settings did not have a password set. If this does happen, please let us know so we can get this investigated further.

Points To Note

If you wish to avail of multicast deployments, you will still need a WDS based PXE distribution point.

Phased OS Deployment Additions

Up until 1802 rolling out a new OS in phases required new device collections and much planning and manual intervention. Phased deployments allow you to take two or more collections and deliver an OS task sequence that progresses based on the success rates within each phase.  A new addition in 1806 to this awesome feature is the ability to manually configure all phrases along with the ability to manually move on a deployment phase and finally a monitoring node.

Manually Configure All Phases

Manually configuring each phase gives you more granular control, allowing you to set varying success rates for your deployment;

Moving To Next Phase

Should you want to force a phased deployment onto the next phase, simply right click on the Phased Deployment and go to “Move to next phase”. This allows you to circumvent the success criteria if you are confident in the deployment;

Phased Deployments – Monitoring

New is the ability to monitor your phased deployments. This is accessible in the Monitoring / Deployments section of the console, by simply selecting the deployed phased deployment, right clicking and selecting “Phased Deployment Status”;

DISM – Additional Driver Parameters Option

Support has been added to add command-line parameters via the use of the OSDInstallDriversAdditionalOptions variable and selecting the below option on the Apply Driver Package step

Thanks for reading.

Maurice Daly

Maurice has been working in the IT industry for the past 20 years and currently working in the role of Senior Cloud Architect with CloudWay. With a focus on OS deployment through SCCM/MDT, group policies, active directory, virtualisation and office 365, Maurice has been a Windows Server MCSE since 2008 and was awarded Enterprise Mobility MVP in March 2017. Most recently his focus has been on automation of deployment tasks, creating and sharing PowerShell scripts and other content to help others streamline their deployment processes.


  • Do you know if the SCCMPXE service reads RamDiskTFTPBlockSize & RamDiskTFTPWindowSize registry keys? or if anyone has tested that this still applies? (I’m trying it out at a new site, but hard to compare at this time)

    • Hi Leon,

      The TFTBlockSize options still apply and they are in the client settings in 1811TP.


  • We are getting an error on some device when PXE booting, Windows Deployment Services encountered an error: Error Code 0xc0000001, I see a way to fix this if i was using WDS but since it has been disabled I dont know where the setting would be in SCCM for the PXE responder, any ideas? It says i need to update the Max Block Size under the TFTP tab in the WDS server properties.

  • Hi everyone, I apologize for my English in advance.
    I’m trying to set this up with a windows 10 client, to which another windows 10 will connect.
    In SCCM, I’ve added the first machine as a Distribution Point and check “Enable this distribution point to pull content from other distribution point”. The source is one of my dp server.
    DP Windows 10 has the service “ConfigMgr PXE Responder Service” started
    When the PXE connection is launched i see:
    PXE Network Boot using IPv4
    Performing DHCP Negotiation…..
    Station IP address is XX.XXX.XX.XX
    Server Ip address is XX.XXX.XX.X
    NBP filename is smsboot\\x64\wdsmgfw.efi
    NBP filesize is 0 bytes

    PXE-E23: Client reveived TFTP error from server.

    The station ip and server ip are ok. The machines are in the same subnet. The problem I see is, maybe the file path. I don’t know :S

    Any idea is welcome.

    Yours faithfully, Ana

  • Hi Maurice,

    Already found my answer! I had to disable multicast because it needed WDS 🙂


  • Hi Maurice,

    We have upgraded SCCM to 1806 but on the distribution point the option to enable a PXE responder is greyed out. Have you seen this before?


  • So does using the PxE responder instead of WDS have any impact on the existing DHCP scope options?

    • Hi Bryan,

      Nothing changes in relation to DHCP or TFTP settings, just use the same approach as you would with WDS.


  • It appears the “fix” (for me at least) was to set a PXE password on my DP, apply the change, and then uncheck the “require a password when computers use PXE” radio button. The next time I PXE booted a system, the password field was greyed out.

    • Hi Philip,

      I had the same experience. The issue has been logged, so hopefully they identify this issue for those upgrading.


    • For me it was solved by updating the boot image (or it was just a coincidence). Checking/unchecking the password box is a lot quicker though 🙂


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