As of the end of August, a new version of the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (aka the Windows ADK) is now available for Windows 8.1 (RTM version, which presumably means it will also work with the General Availability, or GA, version scheduled for release on October 16). The download page at the MS Download Center provides a link to grab the full kit for experimentation and/or production use.
The latest ADK is ready to work with the most recent RTM release of Windows 8.1 (and presumably with the GA release, too).
Here’s a list of some of the tools available in the Windows ADK (see the ADK download page for a complete list):
1. Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) helps IT professionals prioritize, test, and detect compatibility issues with applications, and to find and share risk assessments with other ACT users. Visit the ACT page for more information on this tool.
2. Deployment tools: a whole raft of items to help IT professionals in customizing, managing, and deploying Windows images, such as the Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management (DISM) command line utility along with numerous DISM PowerShell cmdlets and its API, the Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM), and OSCDIMG, a command-line tool for creating an image (.iso) file of a customized 32-bit or 64-bit version of the Windows Preinstallation Environment (PE) 3.0. See the Deployment tools page for more info.
3. User State Migration Tool (USMT): a scriptable command line tool designed for migrating user data from an older Windows installation to a newer one. The USMT home page offers more information and documentation.
4. Windows Assessment Toolkit, used to run system assessments on a single computer based on tasks that simulate user activity and examine computer state to produce metrics for various aspects of the system, and make recommendations for improvement. See the Windows Assessment Toolkit home page.
5. Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) is a minimal OS created to provide a runtime environment for preparing a computer for installation and servicing of Windows OSes. The Windows PE Technical Reference is the go-to for this outstanding and valuable Windows resource.
For those who work with Windows OSes, and plan to work with or deploy Windows 8.1, the ADK is an invaluable toolset. It’s definitely well worth the time and effort needed to inspect, learn about, and master the various components it contains. At a minimum, these items provide a baseline against which other commercial toolsets must be measured, if only because MS gives them away for free.