Windows 7 Deployment FAQs

Microsoft provides numerous tools for deploying Windows operating systems. It sure would be nice if we could use one tool that included all the functionality in dozens of separate utilities and toolkits. Here are some frequently asked questions that Microsoft has posted on TechNet. These will help you understand what you can and can’t do with all these new deployment tools for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008.

“If I am running Windows XP and haven’t looked at the Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 imaging and deployment tools, what should I know about Windows 7 deployment?

If you have not yet looked at Windows Vista Deployment Enhancements, you can learn about the enhancements made around file-based, nondestructive imaging that uses the Windows® Imaging Format (WIM), Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) independence, and language neutrality in Windows Vista® and Windows 7 images.

Which tools are available to help with my Windows 7 deployment project?

The following are some of the predeployment and deployment tools that help you automate common project-related tasks:

  1. Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit This tool inventories hardware and devices.
  2. Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) version 5.5 This tool inventories applications, analyzes compatibility, and creates compatibility fixes for applications.
  3. Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) This tool helps you create images and automate the OS and application installations, data migration, and desktop configuration process.
  4. Microsoft System Center This is a family of products for large organizations that provides end-to-end deployment and management support.

How is imaging and image servicing in Windows 7 different compared to Windows Vista?

Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) in the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) provides additional functionality for Windows 7 and Windows Server® 2008 R2–based operating system images. In Windows 7, you can use DISM to enumerate drivers, packages (including updates), and features in the image. You can also use DISM to add and remove flat file drivers from a Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 system image. DISM consolidates functions previously found across several tools.

Notably, you can also use DISM to manage Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) images; DISM can manage international configurations and can be used for mounting and unmounting WIM images. Previously, these functions were spread across the PEImg, IntlConfig, and ImageX tools. Finally, DISM contains changes that allow for backward compatibility with Package Manager (PKGMGR) commands that were used for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 image files to help ensure that existing tools and scripts written for previous versions of the Windows AIK continue to work. ImageX is still provided with the Windows AIK for system image creation and application functions.

Where can I find the User State Migration Tool for Windows 7?

The Microsoft® Windows® User State Migration Tool (USMT) 4.0 is included in the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK), which you can download from the following Microsoft® Web site: The Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) for Windows 7. For more information about USMT 4.0, see User State Migration Tool 4.0 User’s Guide.

What is Hard-Link Migration, and how can I migrate user states from one operating system to another?

A hard-link migration store enables you to perform an in-place migration. The all-user state is maintained on the computer while the old operating system is removed and the new operating system is installed. Use of a hard-link migration store improves migration performance and reduces hard-disk space usage. For more information, see Hard-Link Migration Store.

Are there any changes in the role of the Windows Deployment Services server in Windows Server 2008 R2?

Windows Deployment Services (WDS) in Windows Server 2008 R2 enables network deployments of WIM images or virtual hard disks as files used for OS deployments. The previous release of WDS in Windows Server 2008 included multicast for image transmission to computers in the deployment pool.

One consequence of using multicast in Windows Server 2008 was that the slowest client determined the transfer rate for all client machines. In Windows Server 2008 R2, multicast now supports the use of multiple stream transfer of 2 to 3 speeds to ensure that the fastest clients can receive deployment images faster. In addition, you can use standard multicast without multiple stream transfer to set minimum transfer thresholds and automatically remove slow clients from the multicast pool.

Windows Server 2008 R2 with WDS also enables dynamic driver provisioning so that driver files can be stored centrally, outside the image, and only the required drivers are installed during deployment by using Plug and Play device matching. For organizations that include large driver payloads with standard network-installed images, dynamic driver provisioning can help reduce image size and ease driver management routines.

Why is upgrade from Windows XP® to Windows 7 not supported?

There are many changes in how PCs have been configured (applets, hardware support, driver model, and so on), and a clean installation yields the highest quality. The User State Migration Tool provides support for moving files and settings, but you must reinstall applications. For a set of customers this tradeoff may seem less than perfect, but the upfront time is well worth it. For more information about this topic, read the blog Engineering Windows 7: Delivering a quality upgrade experience. For more information about how to migrate data from Windows XP to Windows 7, see Step-by-Step: Windows 7 Upgrade and Migration.

Are there any tools available to help find out which applications my users have installed and to test for application compatibility?

You can use the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) version 5.5 to inventory applications and identify known compatibility issues that are common to both Windows Vista and Windows 7. ACT 5.5 also includes tools for testing Web-based applications and for building compatibility fixes for applications where a compatible version is not available and recoding the application is not an option.

You can also search for applications and devices that are compatible with Windows Vista at the Windows Vista Compatibility Center. To perform a bulk query of an inventoried application list against a known list of Windows Vista compatible applications, you can use the Windows Vista Application Compatibility Downloadable List for IT Professionals which is available from the Microsoft Download Center. Both resources share common data, which is currently specific to Windows Vista. Compatibility data specific to Windows 7 will appear in these resources as the data becomes available from software vendors.

Microsoft is collaborating with service partners to help overcome application compatibility, from application inventory to application compatibility remediation. For more information, see the Application Compatibility Factory partner program on Microsoft TechNet.

What specific changes are there in Windows 7 compared to Windows Vista that could affect application compatibility?

Compatibility between Windows Vista and Windows 7 is very high. There are relatively minor changes that affect application compatibility, including the following:

  1. Operating system version The internal version number for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 is 6.1.
  2. Removal of Windows gallery applications Windows Mail, Messenger, Address Book, Photo Gallery, and Movie Maker are deprecated in Windows 7.
  3. National Language Support changes The National Language Support (NLS) functions help applications support the different language-specific and locale-specific needs of users. Windows 7 includes some NLS changes.
  4. Internet Explorer 8 user agent string The user agent string is the Internet Explorer® identifier that provides data about its version and other attributes to Web servers. Many Web applications rely on the Internet Explorer user agent string.
  5. Removal of Windows registry reflection for 64-bit operating systems The registry reflection process copies registry keys and values between two registry views to keep them in sync.
  6. New low-level binaries To improve engineering efficiencies, Microsoft has relocated some functionality to new low-level binaries.
  7. File library replaces document folder Libraries provide a centralized folder for file storage, search, and access across multiple locations, both local and remote.
  8. User interface high DPI awareness The goal is to encourage end users to set their displays to native resolution and to use DPI rather than screen resolution to change the size of text and images.
  9. Internet Explorer 8 DEP/NX Internet Explorer 8 enables DEP/NX protection when run on an OS with the latest service pack.

For detailed information on these changes, see Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Application Quality Cookbook . If you are running Windows XP and want more information about changes starting with Windows Vista, see The Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 Developer Story: Application Compatibility Cookbook .

What about Volume Activation? Will I need a separate infrastructure for Windows 7?

Volume Activation fundamentally works in the same way in Windows 7 as it does with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. You can use key management service or multiple activation keys. The same infrastructure is used to activate Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2. Virtual machine activations can be counted against activation thresholds. The volume activation management tool is included in the Windows AIK.

With so many deployment options, how do I know which one is best-suited to my organization?

For consumers and small businesses, manual deployment options include data migration assisted by Windows easy transfer and installation via retail media. For more information about migrating data with Windows Easy Transfer, see Step-by-Step: Windows 7 Upgrade and Migration.

You can review the deployment options in the Choosing a Deployment Strategy evaluation. These topics describe the recommended deployment types based on your type of organization and help you select an appropriate deployment method.

What is VHD Native Boot?

In Windows 7, you can use a virtual hard disk as the running OS on designated hardware without any other parent operating system, virtual machine, or hypervisor. For more information, see Virtual Hard Disks in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7.

How can I use the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack tools to help with my Windows 7 deployment?

Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V), a component of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), can minimize time-consuming regression testing and application compatibility issues. This is possible because applications are virtualized and not redirected or installed on the client, saving you significant time and effort. You can use dynamic virtualization to control virtual application combinations, consolidate virtual environments, and simplify and speed administration. Customers can accelerate and centralize the deployment and management of operating systems and applications, including simplifying the global management of virtual applications by letting users work in localized environments with localized applications.”

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