For long, SDI (Simple Disk Imaging) was the only tool that came close to something like a disk cloning utility from Microsoft. But, it was not really straightforward to handle nor flexible.
This has changed with the arrival of VISTA. In the accompanying Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) now everybody has access to entprise class deployment tools such as Imagex (Cloning) and WinPE (Booting). Using Imagexin combination with WinPE has quite e few benefits looking at the most common deployment and change managemnt scenarios. And the best is, it works with XPe just as well as with VISTA.
What about using a WDS (PXW boot) server on the factory floor to load devices or a WinPE equipped bootable CD/DVD for in-filed upgrades?
The WAIK is certainly worth to have a close look.