5 Strategies, Tools and Tips to Prepare for Windows 7 Deployment

JT MooreFri, 11/12/2010 - 16:49
Post contributed by ASPE Web Seminar Presenter Pete Zerger. If your organization is still running Windows XP, you are likely facing a Windows 7 upgrade in the near future. This can be a daunting task, but here are a few tools and tips to ensure that when the time arrives, you are ready to meet the challenge. 1) Align upgrade efforts with hardware refresh if you can A great way to ensure your hardware is Windows 7 compatible is to deploy new hardware in conjunction with your Windows 7 deployment. This will reduce driver compatibility issues and newer hardware will deliver better performance. If circumstances dictate that you use existing hardware, further testing with existing printer and peripheral drivers is important since those tend to be the most poorly supported. 2) Leverage Microsoft Tools to Assess Your Orgs “Windows 7 Readiness” Once you’ve accessed readiness System Center Configuration Manager 2007 and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 provide the features to facilitate light touch or hands free OS deployment. The Springboard Series Windows 7 IT Pro Work Template: Windows 7 Deployment Plan from Microsoft is a helpful job aid that provides milestones and other guidance Windows 7 deployment project. 3) Minimize impact to user productivity with User State Migration Helpdesk calls will be fewer and users will be happier and more productive if their Windows 7 environment bears some resemblance to their normal XP working environment is maintained through the migration. The Windows User State Migration Tool (USMT) 4.0 is now installed as part of the Windows Automated Installation Kit. You can use USMT 4.0 to streamline and simplify user-profile migration during large deployments of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems. USMT captures user accounts, user files, operating system settings, and application settings, and then migrates them to a new Windows installation. You can use USMT for both side-by-side and wipe-and-load migrations. 4) Assess Infrastructure Compatibility BEFORE Deployment It's important to ensure that IT infrastructure, such as DHCP, DNS and Active Directory, are solid so they can provide a strong foundation for Windows 7 deployment.  File server space will also need to be made available to support User State Migration. 5) Identify your application compatibility strategy for incompatible applications While most of your applications will work fine in Windows 7, you may well run into a few that won’t. If your move to Windows 7 comes before you retire all your incompatible apps, you will need to look at some techniques you can use to run apps that aren't compatible with Windows 7 on the new operating system. The best strategy to determine which applications will and won't work on Windows 7 is to load them on a Windows 7 machine and test them. For those that just won’t run, you have several options for coexistence:
  • Terminal Services - One way to deal with incompatible applications is to run them in a remote virtual machine with a compatible (downlevel) OS. You can do this with a Terminal Services and placing an icon for your app on the desktop or start menu.
  • XP Virtual Machine (XP Mode) You could also Windows XP apps on a Windows 7 desktop by running a copy of Windows XP in a virtual machine (VM) on your Windows 7 host. Microsoft provides a feature called Windows XP Mode. This is a free download for Windows 7 that provides a virtual machine for running incompatible legacy apps.
  • Application Virtualization or VDI - Application virtualization layers replace part of the runtime environment normally provided by the operating system. Application virtualization options include Microsoft Application Virtualization, Citrix XenApp and Novell ZENworks Application Virtualization.
Remember that the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) version 5.5 can help you inventory applications, analyze compatibility, and create compatibility fixes for applications. Conclusion I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. If you’d like to learn more about Windows 7 deployment, attend “Planning your Desktop Upgrade to Windows 7”, Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm Eastern Time. You can register for this free seminar HERE.
Pete Zerger is an IT consultant, blogger, author, speaker and Microsoft MVP focusing on MS Microsoft System Center and enterprise virtualization. He is a co-founder of systemcentercentral.com a web community dedicated to support of Microsoft System Center management technologies.