P2V Migration for Software Assurance

This just appeared in my inbox, regarding a new beta available on Connect:

“P2V Migration for Software Assurance uses the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit and Sysinternals Disk2VHD to convert a user’s existing Windows XP or newer client environment to a virtual hard disk then automates the delivery of an updated and personalized Windows 7 operating system containing a virtual machine with the user’s previous Windows environment, applications and Web browser. The user’s previous virtual desktop retains its existing management components, domain membership and policies. The process also publishes applications and the browser for the user to access them seamlessly within Windows 7’s start menu.

Help Reduce Windows 7 Deployment Times: The ability to perform P2V conversion of Windows XP or newer 32-bit systems as part of Windows 7 and/or 64-bit deployment means that IT organizations do not need to wait as long to get value from Windows 7. IT organizations will deliver the new Windows 7 operating system builds while preserving the old environments of a limited set of users that would otherwise delay production deployment.
Extend the Timeframe to Mitigate Application Compatibility: Using this solution, targeted users can have access to their previous set of applications, just in case something was not provisioned as part of the Windows 7 deployment. Accessing previous applications is also easy for end users, as those applications are published to the Windows 7 start menu.

Users can Access Incompatible Legacy OS Applications: Using this solution, targeted users can have access to their previous set of applications, just in case something was not provisioned as part of the Windows 7 deployment. Accessing previous applications is also easy for end users, as those applications are published to the Windows 7 start menu”.

Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.6

Microsoft released a new version of ACT, 5.6, last week.  ACT will provide you with the tools to help “fool” incompatible applications into working on Windows Vista or Windows 7.

When doing an upgrade, you’ll identify those applications that won’t work on your new OS.  You would try to either fix the application or get a new version that won’t work. Maybe you’ll try to find an alternative application.  If that’s not possible (no budget, vendor is gone, developer is gone, etc) then you would try to get the application working.  ACT works by providing shims that sit between the OS and the application.  For example, an application may not be UAC aware and you make it aware via a shim.  It might explicitly check for Windows XP so you use a shim to lie to the application about the version of the OS.  It is pretty cool stuff.

Companies Delaying on Windows 7 Will Face Staff Shortages

TechCentral has posted a story where Gartner is advising companies not to delay on the deployment of Windows 7.

Gartner says that “”We estimate that large and mid-size organisations worldwide will migrate approximately 250 million PCs to Windows 7” between 2011 and 2013.  They think this will drive up demand for OS deployment skills, not seen with Vista, and will lead to a shortage of those skills.  That will drive up staffing prices, and force laggards to hire lesser skilled people who will perform a lower quality job.

Nice timing!  It just so happens that my current (already!) writing project is centred in this space.  I’ll talk more about that later when I can.

Use Wim2VHD to Quickly Build a Lab Network

WIM2VHD has been around for quite a while now but I don’t know that many people realised what it could offer.  Mikael Nystrom (Server deployment MVP) has blogged a reminder.  You can use WIM2VHD to quickly create a VHD from a WIM file, e.g. the install.wim file in the Vista/Windows7/Server 2008/Server 2008 R2 installation media, and then attach that VHD to a Hyper-V virtual machine.  This is a quicker way to build a set of lab machines than doing an installation, e.g. WDS, MDT, sneakernet, etc, if you don’t have a set of library images (VMM).  I’ve been guilty of not doing this … reminder to self: use WIM2VHD in the future when I need to build a lab template.  Mikael has the notes you’ll need to do the job in his blog post.

Sysprep & Hyper-V

You can automate the deployment of Hyper-V host servers using Sysprep.  W2008 would disable the autostart of the hypervisor in any machine deployed from a sysprepped template.  Ben Armstrong has confirmed that this is different with Windows Server 2008 R2; the hypervisor will automatically start.

You could use soemthing like WDS to deploy a new host.  I’d prefer MDT or ConfigMgr OSD because they use task sequences.  That will allow you to automate a bunch of operations using command line, batch scripts, or PowerShell scripts.

I did actually use WDS to build my original W2008 cluster back in 2008.  I didn’t have ConfigMgr and I wasn’t comfortable yet with MDT.  I prepped the initial build, figured out the kinks, and modified the images.  I repeated for the pilot.  The production deployment was completed in 1 hour (bare metal to functioning Hyper-V cluster) from a meeting room in a hotel room via VPN and HP ILO.

Heck, if you use one of the tasq sequence deployment solutions for normal server deployment then you only need to create a new task sequence to run against an existing Windows image (most probably Datacenter edition) and use the Server Manager powershell modules to enable the Failover Clustering feature and the Hyper-V role, reboot, install DPM/OpsMgr agents, etc.

So, if you deploy Hyper-V hosts freqeuently or you are planning a huge farm deployment, take a look at Sysprep, WDS, MDT and ConfigMgr OSD to automate the process.  A little work up front can save you a lot of time later on and give you a consistent result.

Notes for sysprepping a configured Hyper-V host:

  • External networks in the image will be converted into internal networks.
  • Passthrough disks will need to be reconfigured in the Hyper-V Manager.
  • The Dynamic MAC address pool on the host will be recreated so that it is unique.

Passed 70-635 Exam

I sat and passed the 70-635 (MDT 2008) exam today.  I know it’s old; but it’s required for a some MS partner stuff and a more modern replacement hasn’t been announced as a requirements replacement.  The exam was particularly easy considering that I had done work with Vista, WAIK (Vista and Windows 7), WinPE, MDT 2010, WDS (2003 SP2, 2008, 2008 R2), and ConfigMgr 2007.  It also goes into some Office 2007 deployment stuff which is easy enough and some SMS 2003 stuff.  The answers to the SMS questions centred around SP3 and the OSD feature pack with everything else being similar to ConfigMgr.

What I did not like was how some of the questions are written as trick questions rather than as tests of knowledge or experience.  That’s quite unfair.  I didn’t bother commenting on the questions; I have my doubts about the comments being used and I had places to be and things to do.

Next up (once the Prometric site lets me book an exam from my voucher) is 70-401: System Center Configuration Manager, Configuring.

Office Migration Planning Manager (OMPM) 2010

You will want to learn about this toolset if you are planning on doing any Windows 7/Office 2010 deployment projects. I know it (previous version) is a minor element in the Vista/MDT 2008 deployment exam.

“The Office Migration Planning Manager (OMPM) 2010 is a group of tools designed to help administrators during the planning and testing phases of a Microsoft Office 2010 deployment.

OMPM assists administrators in the discovery and compatibility assessment of existing Office documents for migration from the binary document formats (.doc, .xls, etc.) to OpenXML formats (.docx, .xlsx, etc.). Additionally, OMPM 2010 adds features to assess macro compatibility with Office 2010 and 64 bit Office compatibility. The toolkit also contains the Office File Converter (OFC), which enables bulk document conversions from binary to OpenXML formats, and a Version Extraction Tool (VET) to extract saved file versions.

The goal of the tool set is to help administrators understand the number and types of Microsoft Office files in their environment and effectively plan for a smooth rollout of the new version of Microsoft Office.

Refer to the Office Migration Planning Manager reference for further information”.

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MDT 2010 Update 1 Released

This came in the mail overnight:

Deploy Windows 7 and Office 2010 quickly and reliably—while boosting user satisfaction

Microsoft® Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010 Update 1 is now available! Download MDT 2010 Update 1 at: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=159061

As you prepare to deploy Windows® 7, Office 2010, and Windows Server® 2008 R2, get a jump start with MDT 2010 Update 1. Use this Solution Accelerator to achieve efficient, cost-effective deployment of Windows 7, Office 2010, and Windows Server 2008 R2.

This latest release offers something for everyone. Benefits include:

For System Center Configuration Manager 2007 customers:

New “User Driven Installation” deployment method. An easy-to-use UDI Wizard allows users to initiate and customize operating system and application deployments to their PCs that are tailored to their individual needs.

Support for Configuration Manager R3 “Prestaged Media.” For those deploying Windows 7 and Office 2010 along with new PCs, a custom operating system image can easily be preloaded and then customized once deployed.

For Lite Touch Installation:

Support for Office 2010. Easily configure Office 2010 installation and deployment settings through the Deployment Workbench and integration with the Office Customization Tool.

Improved driver import process. All drivers are inspected during the import process to accurately determine what platforms they really support, avoiding common inaccuracies that can cause deployment issues.

For all existing customers:

A smooth and simple upgrade process. Installing MDT 2010 Update 1 will preserve your existing MDT configuration, with simple wizards to upgrade existing deployment shares and Configuration Manager installations.

Many small enhancements and bug fixes. Made in direct response to feedback received from customers and partners all around the world, MDT 2010 Update 1 is an indispensible upgrade for those currently using MDT (as well as a great starting point for those just starting).

Continued support for older products. MDT 2010 Update 1 still supports deployment of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista®, Windows Server 2008, and Office 2007, for those customers who need to be able to support these products during the deployment of Windows 7 and Office 2010.

Next steps:

Download Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=159061.

Learn more by visiting the MDT site on Microsoft TechNet: www.microsoft.com/mdt.

Get the latest news by visiting the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit Team blog: http://blogs.technet.com/msdeployment/default.aspx.

Provide us with feedback at satfdbk@microsoft.com.

If you have used a Solution Accelerator within your organization, please share your experience with us by completing this short survey: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=132579.


Microsoft Deployment Toolkit Team”

Windows Deployment Workshop with Deployment MVP/Expert Rhonda Layfield

Deployment MVP, speaker, journalist, consultant, and author, Rhonda Layfield is running a deployment workshop in Las Vegas on March 17th-19th.  It’s 2 and a half days with a person who knows this stuff inside-out.  If you’re a techie getting ready for a desktop deployment, a consultant who’ll probably do Windows 7 deployments this year, or an engagements manager with staff who should know this stuff then this is the best way to kept them up to speed with the MS technologies and approved ways to do this work. 

Rhonda doesn’t stop there.  She always goes on to explain the “edge scenarios”, e.g. what happens when drivers aren’t there, WDS deployments are slow, etc. Rhonda has done deployment projects for some huge organisations in the USA so she knows what she’s talking about.  This will be totally unlike attending some MOC course or a MS partner training day.  This is real at-the-coalface teaching from someone who has been there and done that.

Rhonda is the sort of person you want to teach you because she personally invests herself in each and every session she does.  I’ve seen how much work she invests in sessions the days leading up to them … even if they are repeat sessions, Rhonda will be constantly looking for ways to tune them, give better explanations, more information, etc.

The costs are actually pretty low.  The 2.5 days cost $835 which is around the cost of a MS partner training course in Ireland when you take the exchange rate into account.  Flights to Vegas are economic (Delta via Atlanta), and the Bellagio hotel will cost €150 a night.  Lunch and unlimited coffee are free for 2 days.  There will also be a cocktail hour.  Mark Minasi and Paul Thurrott will be attending so that’s 3 of the biggest brains around to bounce questions off of which is a unique opportunity.  I’ve never met Paul but if he’s like Mark and Rhonda, you’ll get your questions answered by someone approachable and friendly – and knowledgeable.

It also happens to be St. Patricks weekend and the bar to be at in Vegas will be in New York, New York, just a short stroll away.  Their rooms can be cheap if you book ahead.  I can’t remember the name of the older hotel just diagonally across from NY, NY on that junction but it’s decent and very cheap.

So go check out the Deployment Workshop.  I personally think it’s a great looking course, full of info and with a great teacher.  Rhonda did one session at TechEd Europe last year … and then was asked to repeat it due to popular demand later in the week.  That, I promise you, does not happen by accident.  So imagine what you’d get out of 2.5 days of material!

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