By Jeremy Chapman
I like all types of music and with almost any successful musician there comes a time when they take their best tracks and create a “Best of” album. This is not only great for people who want all of their music in one place, but also for the people new to that musician. Now you might argue that all this goes away with online music services, but I’d argue that sometimes the level of selection there gets daunting. At this point you’re also probably wondering what this all has to do with Windows 7 deployment, well… after more than a year post general availability and two years since I’ve been writing and reviewing content, it’s time to sift through that huge potential playlist and cut the Windows 7: Best of Deployment Compilation.
If you are new to the Windows deployment game or are stuck in the spooky world of drive-cloning with older sector-based processes, this should help you get started. If you’ve seen it and have the concert T-shirts from our TechEd tours, then you can probably skip ahead. We’ll start out with the basic concepts then go deeper into the how-to guides.
The following guides are mostly written content and will take anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes to read through each one.
1. Deploying Windows 7 from A to Z
I wrote this as a blog series almost a year ago and it quickly turned into the most informal whitepaper ever published by Microsoft (to my knowledge). This is an “unplugged” session explaining deployment tools and processes end-to-end.
2. Windows XP to Windows 7 Migration Guide
This multimedia guide roughly follows the process I wrote in Deploying Windows 7 from A to Z and adds videos, decision workflows and leads almost perfectly into the next two guides.
3. Understanding the Application Compatibility in Your Environment
Application compatibility is where you will spend the most time preparing for a deployment of Windows 7,
4. Choosing a Deployment Strategy
A colleague I respect immensely on the Windows engineering team, Patrick Azzarello, approached me almost two years ago with the idea to weigh all of the common Windows deployment options from Microsoft and create recommendations based on organization size and skill level. This guide does exactly that.
5. Deploying Windows® 7 Essential Guidance from the Windows 7 Resource Kit and TechNet Magazine (author’s choice***)
This best of list is in chronological order, but if I had to rank content on importance, I would put this guide at the top of the list. It explains all of the deployment tools very succinctly without glossing over anything.
Once you make it through the overviews, these videos will put many of the concepts together and make them more real. More videos can be found here, but I am highlighting the important and more detailed ones.
6. Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit
This video explains the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit for creating and assessing hardware compatibility prior to a Windows 7 deployment project. (5 minutes)
7. Getting Started with the Application Compatibility Toolkit
Part 1 of 5 in the series – This video explains the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit, including prerequisites for installation and how to configure the Application Compatibility Toolkit to collect application inventory and initial compatibility findings. (7 minutes)
8. Creating Data Collection Packages to Generate an Application Inventory
Part 2 of 5 – This video shows how Data Collection Packages are created for inventorying and analyzing applications in your environment. Learn how to label Data Collection Packages used for sorting application inventories according to user roles. (9 minutes)
9. Analyzing Compatibility Data Returned by Data Collection Packages
Part 3 of 5 – This video shows how application inventory data is analyzed using Application Compatibility Manager in the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit. This video will show you how data is collected by compatibility evaluators, how to prioritize applications, and how to synchronize your application portfolio with the Microsoft Compatibility Exchange Web service. (13 minutes)
10. Mitigating Application Compatibility Issues with Common Compatibility Fixes
Part 4 of 5 – This video shows how to use the Compatibility Administrator tool, a component of the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit, to author custom compatibility fixes. This demonstration highlights many of the most commonly used compatibility fixes (or "shims") for enterprise line-of-business applications. (14 minutes)
11. Detecting and Mitigating Administrative Privilege Requirements with the Standard User Analyzer
Part 5 of 5 – This video shows how Standard User Analyzer, part of Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit, can be used to detect potential issues with applications that require administrative privileges. Also learn how compatibility mitigations are created and applied by the tool in order to help fix many of the issues Standard User Analyzer detects. (8 minutes)
12. Thrive Live! Migrating from IE6 to IE8 (Part 1 of 2)
This demonstration-heavy webcast highlights real-world scenarios to configure, manage, deploy, and ensure the compatibility of their Web applications with Internet Explorer 8. (26 minutes)
13. Thrive Live! Migrating from IE6 to IE8 (Part 2 of 2) (27 Minutes)
14. Building the Deployment Environment with MDT 2010
This video explains how to use the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit to create fully automated Windows XP to Windows 7 migrations – with data, applications, drivers and packages. (10 minutes)
15. Initiating the Install and Migrating the PC using MDT 2010
This video shows the initiation of Lite Touch Installation and explains the entire operating system migration and the phases of the automated process for moving Windows XP computers to Windows 7. (10 minutes)
Deployment Tools and VHDs to Download
If you have read the overviews or watched the videos, these tools don’t need descriptions, but the Proof of Concept Jumpstart Kit (a big working virtual demo environment does).
21. Proof of Concept Jumpstart Kit v1.5
The Proof of Concept Jumpstart Kit provides resources in pre-configured VHD files to deploy a desktop PoC with Windows 7, Office 2010, Internet Explorer 8, and Application Virtualization with Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack technology.
Deeper Technical Guidance
Once you’ve read the overviews, watched the videos and downloaded the tools, these deeper guides will explain how to use the tools. Guidance included with the tools themselves tends to be pretty good, but the online guidance in some cases is more up-to-date.
Deployment-Related Blogs to Follow
After making through all of the content outlined in this “Best of” list, there are more resources to follow and people blogging about real-world workarounds and experiences in application compatibility and deployment. The following four blogs are my favorites.
Deployment Hands-on Labs
Finally, there are several application compatibility and deployment hands-on labs hosted on Microsoft TechNet for deploying Windows 7.
While the thirty items listed in my “Windows 7: Best of Deployment Compilation” seems like quite a bit, you should be able to get through first 20 items listed within a day. At that point, you will have a pretty good idea of what everything does and be able to get started with a Windows 7 deployment project. Items 21-34 are more at the hands-on level and will explain the individual tools, while blogs will often provide workarounds and tips for things not found in the documentation. If you follow the sequence of everything listed here, you’ll be relative proficient in operating system in under a week. My advice would be to start creating builds and using the tools as early as possible – nothing is more valuable than learning by experience, even if the experience is in a set of virtual test machines.
Thanks for reading!