It is a version of Windows that runs exclusively off of its own media, meaning that it does not require a hard disk. It runs in protected mode and provides a 32-bit console that offers the following features:
• It is independent of the hardware it runs on and requires minimum RAM.
• It automatically detects network cards and provides TCP/IP connectivity.
• It can work with all massive storage drivers that are enabled for Windows XP, 2000 or Windows Server 2003.
• It can create, modify, and destroy NTFS partitions.
• It includes diagnostic tools.
It does have limitations, though. It will only run for a period of 24 hours, requiring reboots if it is run for longer periods. It will only support a maximum of four network connections. It will connect to other servers on your network, but you cannot remotely connect to a computer running Windows PE. It is designed to work mainly with the TCP/IP protocol. And it only supports standard VGA graphics.
Windows PE is designed to replace DOS. For disk imaging, especially disk imaging with servers, it is a godsend because it lets you boot a server with absolutely nothing on it and download a server image to install it. Without Windows PE, using disk images for servers was very difficult, if not impossible. PowerQuest Corporation (http://www.powerquest.com/) was the first manufacturer to create a Windows PE version of their disk imaging software: Power Deploy Suite. This version is strictly a command-line program that does not have a graphical interface, thus it can be scripted to create and restore disk images. As Windows PE becomes more popular, other manufacturers will definitely create 32-bit versions of their disk imaging software.
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