I was recently on a customer site working on a pilot for a Windows 10 deployment. Due to PXE boot constraints they need to use USB boot media for bare metal deployments. They have been deploying Windows 7 and 8.1 to existing kit in this way for some time without any issues.
As the goal was to combine a hardware refresh with a Windows 10 deployment I was provided with two new desktop models for testing and a USB disk. I created a new MDT 2013 Update 1 x64 boot disk (based on WinPE 10.0) without any additional drivers at this stage and created my USB boot media.
Both of my test models have an Intel i217-LM network adapter, and using my boot media the network stack is not initialised. A quick internet search reveals a number of forum posts and blogs about how the i217-LM does not play nice in Windows PE, and how different versions of the driver works for some and not others. This sent me on the wrong path of trying different driver versions to find one that would work.
As I discovered WinPE 10 includes drivers for the i217-LM built-in, network drivers were not the issue. The issue was that the USB drive I’d been given was a USB 3.0 drive (the others already in use were USB 2.0) and the new models only had USB 3.0 ports. Creating the same boot media on a USB 2.0 drive worked as expected.
The key error in the smsts.log to look out for is:
ConvertBootToLogicalPath failed to convert ‘MULTI(0)DISK(0)FDISK(0)\SOURCES\BOOT.WIM’ (0x80070003)
Interestingly from within WinPE the USB 3.0 drive is fully accessible and all seems fine, it just looks like the network driver is missing. I found that from an F8 prompt ipconfig shows nothing, however if a NIC driver is present running WpeUtil InitializeNetwork will initialise the network and confirm that an appropriate network driver is present.