One item of note I saw in the coverage from Macworld last week was the Micromat Techtool Protégé. (I used TechTool on my own Macs.) The Protégé provides a UFD of sorts off of the FireWire port to help customers address technical problems and recovery issues.

Why am I talking about a Mac product here? I'm reminded that this same scenario has been possible for some time already with our own Microsoft Windows Preinstallation Environment (aka Windows PE and WinPE). WinPE is a powerful tool used in deployment, testing, diagnostics and system recovery processes, for use primarily by PC OEMs, ISVs and IT Pros. It's a minimal Windows system (based on Windows XP Pro and Server 2003) that can be used by IT Pros to customize systems via a customized WinPE CD or UFD for deployments in an organization; with Windows Vista, WinPE should help make custom enterprise deployments of the OS easier and faster.

For more on WinPE, see this overview of WinPE and this article on WinPE for Windows Vista.

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