Windows 7 Useful Links

Common questions we get asked in the Setup/Core team is where can I find some useful links regarding Deployment (with MDT 2010 and SCCM), USMT 4.0 (User State Migration Toolkit), Activation (Changes and functionality differences in Vista and Greater O/S’es), Application Compatibility with Windows 7 and/or Vista, and last but not least, what is an easy way to configure Boot to VHD for testing purposes?

So I have compiled a list of useful links and resources that are Microsoft related to answer and help with some of these questions and concerns:

Please Note: That from time to time, these links can change but can be a good starting point for your Windows 7 Deployment planning in your environment.

General Links

77 Windows 7 Tips – This is a good spot to learn what is new in Windows 7, and I want to mention one of the least talked about but one of the best features (Problem Steps Recorder) or PSR for short. This will allow you to reproduce what you are seeing and record screen shots, and even make comments when trying to show other users, or even technical support problems that you are having.

New Shortcut Keys in Windows 7 – Ever wonder how some people can work just as fast with a keyboard without even using a mouse? Well here are some that we added to the existing shortcut keys in Vista, to speed up your day to day work.

Existing Shortcut Keys from Vista – Just in case you didn’t have them all memorized, here is the Shortcut keys that we had from Windows Vista.

Deployment (Using MDT and also good Deployment Blog Sites to watch – Even set them up as RSS Feeds)

Windows 7 Deployment – Don’t know where to start with common questions like: Will my custom applications work with Windows 7? How do I upgrade? Can I upgrade? Etc… Here is a good starting point for you.

Windows Automated Installation Kit for Windows 7 – This is a MUST have when deploying Windows Vista and Later, creating Corporate Images, Doing Offline Servicing of hotfixes in your images? Etc…

Windows Automated Installation Kit for Windows 7 Direct Download Link – Be Prepared to download a 1+ gb ISO file that you will need to burn to a DVD.

MDT Solution Accelerator Home Page – Don’t think your environment is big enough to use System Center for deployment of Windows Machines, here is a Free Tool that will help you automate deployment of Custom Images from USB, WDS, DVD, Network Points. Not only will it help with deploying O/S’es it will help with deploying Applications as well. Note: This is considered a Lite Touch Environment, where user interaction will be needed, you can customize it to be very small.

MDT 2010 Direct Download Link – This does require that you have Windows Automated Installation Kit installed on the System.

Windows Deployment Services Getting Started Guide – We have made some changes in Windows 2008 R2 WDS Service, here is a link to how to get started using WDS for Network deployment of your Operating Systems.  Note: You can use a bootable image made from MDT to deploy using both MDT and WDS

Blog and Forum Sites to Keep an Eye On:

Microsoft Support Core Team Blog

The Deployment Guys Blog

Michael Niehaus Blog

Tim Mintner’s Blog

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit Technet Forum

System Center Useful Links

Operating System Deployment in Configuration Manager 2007 – Want to put SCCM 2007 in your environment, but don’t know what the Prerequisites, What all it does, How to configure it for your environment? If you answered yes to any of those questions, here is a good link for you.

System Center Configuration Manager 2007 OSD Comparision Matrix – Ever wonder how I can deploy Operating Systems? Well here is a chart from ADS 1.1 to ConfigMgr 2007 and the features/functionalities that they provide.

Operating System Deployment Task Sequence Variables – Variables, Variables, and More Variables… If you can’t keep track of every one of them, here is a cheat sheet for you.

The Configuration Manager Support Team Blog : A step by step for using … – “Although the steps required to deploy an OS using Configuration Manager 2007 are available in many places, I decided to create a simple, concise step by step procedure for OSD deployment using SCCM that will hopefully come in handy if you are trying to use the OSD feature in SCCM for the first time.”

Troubleshooting Operating System Deployment – Ever wonder, why your deployment is having problems? What logs do I look at ? Here are common logs for when you are deploying with ConfigMgr 2007, that might help you out.

Blog and Forum Sites to Keep an Eye On:

Configuration Manager Operating System Deployment Forum

The Configuration Manager Support Team Blog

USMT 4.0

User State Migration Tool 4.0 User’s Guide – What would a Useful links post be without at least 1 User Guide? This user guide is the go-to place for anything to do with USMT 4.0, and what you can do with it.

What Does USMT Migrate? – Without little user interaction, what does USMT Migrate? How can I modify this information? Here is the link for you. You will find the Default Migration Scripts along with Supported Applications and several other goodies at here.

USMT Best Practices – Microsoft’s Best Practices for general and security related uses of USMT 4.0.

How to Use Hard Links for User State Migration – What is Hard Link Migration you ask? Well, it’s a way that you can maintain the user state data on the computer, while the old O/S is being removed and upgraded. This drastically reduces deployment time.

Step-by-Step: Basic Windows Migration using USMT for IT Professionals – “This step-by-step guide to Windows migration for IT pros provides a basic example of how to migrate files and settings from Windows XP to Windows 7 using USMT 4.0. (You can also migrate files and settings from a computer running Windows Vista®.)”


Windows Volume Activation – “Learn about the concepts, capabilities, and recommended best practices that can help you manage the activation of Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008 R2 in an enterprise environment.”

Volume License Key Management Portal – Portal to manage your Volume Activation Keys

KMS 2008 R2 Update – KB968912 – Have an existing 2008 KMS Server in your environment and want to start using Windows 7 or Windows 2008 R2, make sure you have this installed on the KMS Servers, so that it will accept your new keys.

KMS 2003 1.2 Update – KB968915 – Have an existing 2003 KMS Server in your environment and want to start using Windows 7 or Windows 2008 R2, make sure you have this installed on the KMS Servers, so that it will accept your new keys.

Boot to VHD

Add Native-Boot Virtual Hard Disk to the Boot Menu – “The following procedures describe how to add a native-boot virtual hard disk (VHD) to the boot menu using the BCDedit tool. If you are adding the VHD to a computer that already has a Windows® 7 installation, you will need to add a boot entry to the menu. If you are adding the VHD to a computer running an older version of Windows, for example Windows Server® 2008, you will need to update the system partition using the BCDboot tool and then edit the boot menu using the BCDedit tool. “

Step-By-Step Guide (Tested with Windows 7 Enterprise, for a “Corp” image and a “Personal” image)

Open Diskpart on the Windows 7 Enterprise Machine, you can also do this from within Disk Management (diskmgmt.msc) but the steps below are 100% Diskpart and Command line driven for automation purposes.

***This cannot be done in Windows 7 (Any Home Version, Professional) or any previous operating systems, as they do not support Boot to VHD


***Note the 75000 will create a Dynamically Expanding 75gb VHD file, it is recommended if you do this to go ahead and create a FIXED Size instead of Dynamically expanding so that you don’t accidently over commit the Physical disk. If you remove the TYPE=EXPANDABLE, it will default to FIXED.







*** Must Have Windows Automated Installation Toolkit Installed on the system

Open Deployment Tools Command Prompt – Elevated

IMAGEX /Apply z:win7x64sourcesinstall.wim 1 Y:



Modify the BCD Database via Elevated Command Prompt

bcdedit /copy {default} /D “Win 7 Corp Load”

bcdedit /set <GUID> device vhd=[C:]VHDWin7Corp.vhd

*** You will get the <GUID> during the bcdedit /copy step

bcdedit /set <GUID> osdevice vhd=[C:]VHDWin7Corp.vhd

Reboot the System and you will see “Windows 7” and “Win 7 Corp Load” on the Boot Manager Window

Application Compatibility

Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.5 – “The Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) version 5.5 contains the necessary tools and documentation to evaluate and mitigate application compatibility issues before deploying Windows 7, Windows Vista®, a Windows Update, or a new version of Windows® Internet Explorer® in your environment.”

Windows 7 Application Compatibility Demo Video – Great Video on how to use the Application Compatibility Toolkit and how to create a “Shim”

Stock Viewer / Application Compatibility – Tool that you can use to play around with the Application Compatibility Toolkit

Managing Shims in an Enterprise – How to deploy the Shims you create with the Application Compatibility Toolkit.

Assessment and Planning Toolkit – “The Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit makes it easy to assess your current IT infrastructure for a variety of technology migration projects. This Solution Accelerator provides a powerful inventory, assessment, and reporting tool to simplify the migration planning process.”


Special thanks to the following people for their contributions:

Scott McArthur (Sr. Support Escalation Engineer)

Kevin Ledman (Sr. Support Escalation Engineer)

Scott Goad (Support Escalation Engineer)

Clint Koenig (Support Escalation Engineer)







Tanner Slayton
Sr. Support Escalation Engineer
Microsoft Corporation

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