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Probably the easiest way to do this is to
1. Modify the DevicePath registry value to tell Windows where to search for drivers when new devices are found via PnP, e.g. append c:\drivers or something like that to the existing paths - https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc753716.aspx
2. Create a c:\drivers folder on the reference system and place all of your network drivers there. You could in fact place drivers for any kind of hardware drivers there.
3. If you sysprep the reference system, when a target system is re-imaged with an image built from this reference system it will go though PnP phase of the OOBE and look for drivers for devices that don't already have drivers installed at c:\drivers.
If you're looking for just NIC drivers I would suggest downloading the WinPE driver packs from these various locations and adding just the x86 or x64 drivers (they need to match the architecture of Windows that your image is based on). Also make sure that you pick the WinPE files based on the version of Windows you're installing.
WinPE 3.0/3.1 => Windows 7
WinPE 4.0 => Windows 8
WinPE 5.0/5.1 => Windows 8.1
Dell WinPE driver pack
HP WinPE driver pack
Lenovo WinPE driver pack
Hope this helps.
Thank You Bao!
If this works as advertised (which I think it will of course, but you know IT...) - this seems to be way easier and flexible than any other way i read about before.
It would be so easy to update the drivers in the image.
I will try this as soon as I get a chance.
Just to confirm, this works like a charm. We now have drivers for all our Devices in one Image and Windows installs all drivers correctly. After the deployment we can simply delete the driver folder with a batch file and free up some space on the machines.