Let's say I've got around 50 PCs with identical specs but no CD or floppy drives and a blank hard disk, is there an efficient way to install (and update) an OS and software on each of them? Would I have to go to each PC one by one with the CDs or is there a way to install over a network? In the case of Windows XP would you need 50 separate copies?
If you had a Volume License for XP, you can use RIS or an unattended file and WinPE do deploy it over PXE (network boot) assuming your NICs support PXE.
As for update management, you can do this with GPO and WSUS.