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As I have researched, we can do a clean installation of an OS through network booting (PXE boot). I have also tried to do it to a virtual machine via windows Deployment Services (WDS). It was OK. Because, virtual machine contains its virtual drivers. But when it comes to a physical machine, doesn't it need to have network card drivers installed, before starting a network boot? How the PC gets an IP address through DHCP, if it doesn't have correct drivers? How we can install drivers before the Network boot?

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  • PXE stands for Pre-Boot Execution Environment, thus you will not need drivers for the OS at that point, it is not booted yet. The network card has to support PXE. Sep 17 '13 at 8:54
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There was a great article in the TechNet Magazine column ‘The Desktop Files’ a few years ago called ‘Network-Booting Windows’ explaining PXE booting in great detail. This quote from the article is specific to your question:

Step 2: If the boot order puts PXE ahead of hard disks, or flash drives, or CD-ROMs, or if none of those devices are present, the Universal Network Driver Interface (UNDI) is loaded from NIC. The NIC features an extremely small network device driver and a Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) implementation.

So, at this point, no drivers are needed, as they are included on the NIC itself.

However, once you start loading an OS, that OS will need drivers. For example, If you are using Windows Deployment Services (WDS), you will use PXE booting to load the Windows PE image so that you can deploy a Windows image to the computer. You will need drivers for the Windows PE image, and for the Windows image that you deploy.

More information about deploying Windows can be found on the Deploy Windows 7 page of the Springboard Series on TechNet.

Hope this helps,

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