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From Microsoft Windows XP to Windows 7

Six Steps to Success

Written by Richard Hanley

Migrating Microsoft Windows XP workstations to Windows 7 is a huge job. The pressure to get the job done is intensifying because Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP SP2 after July 13, 2010 and Extended Support for Windows XP SP3 will end in April of 2014.

An in-place migration from Windows XP to Windows 7 isn't possible because the two operating systems are based on different architectures. Instead, Windows 7 requires a completely new install. It's not a trivial undertaking, especially if you have to migrate hundreds, even thousands of workstations.

IT organizations that are managing their Windows XP workstations with Novell ZENworks Configuration Management have an advantage: Novell has developed a straightforward, six-step methodology for migrating ZENworks Configuration Management-managed Windows XP workstations to ZENworks Configuration Management-managed Windows 7 workstations. (ZENworks Desktop Management users can also take advantage of the methodology but they must first move up to ZENworks Configuration Management.)

The methodology employs both Novell and Microsoft tools that automate many of the migration processes, minimizing risk and reducing effort and cost. The methodology retains the individual personalities of the user workstations, so users see a smooth transition. (A workstation's personality generally consists of system settings that govern the look and feel of the desktop, configuration data for the user's applications, personal files and Internet browser settings and bookmarks.)

The methodology enables you to use the same ZENworks Configuration Management tools with Windows 7 that you are currently using with Windows XP. The ability to manage a mix of Windows XP and Windows 7 workstations means you can migrate the workstations incrementally.

Novell offers a one-day, instructor-led (online or in-classroom) training course to guide you through the migration process. The course includes lab exercises that provide hands-on experience in using the tools and applying the methodology.

The Tools

The methodology uses both Novell ZENworks Configuration Management tools and Microsoft tools. Here's a brief description of each tool used.

ZENworks Configuration Management Tools

  • ZENworks Configuration Management Personality Migration captures and records the personalities of the Windows XP workstations so you can restore those personalities as part of the Windows 7 migration. This tool generates an XML document that the Personality Migration Engine uses when gathering or applying personality.
  • ZENworks Configuration Management Inventory/Reporting Feature enables you to assess your workstation inventory to determine which Windows XP workstations are capable of accommodating Windows 7.
  • ZENworks Configuration Management Bundle Management provides the ability to gather, package, deliver and install content on remote workstations. You can use this feature for such purposes as driving the capture and restoration of workstation personality and installing applications.
  • ZENworks Configuration Management Image Explorer is used to build add-on images. These images are so named because, unlike base images, they are deployed without deleting and recreating existing partitions. The contents of add-ons are simply added to the contents of existing partitions. An example of an add-on image is one used to deliver the ZENworks Adaptive Agent to the target workstations.

Microsoft Tools

  • Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) comprises a set of GUI and command-line tools with associated documentation. Network administrators use it to create, configure and modify Windows 7 operating system images, and to automate the installation of Windows 7 operating system images on target machines. The Windows System Image Manager (WSIM) component exposes all configurable settings of an image file and enables you to write your selected settings to an XML Answer File. Both Sysprep and Windows Setup use the Answer File as input to their processes.
  • Sysprep is installed as part of all versions of Windows 7. (You must run Sysprep before deploying a Windows 7 image.) Sysprep prepares a Windows 7 workstation for imaging and removes the machine's "uniqueness." It's generally used as a command-line utility but you can also use it with a GUI.

The Methodology

The six-step methodology from Novell wraps around Microsoft Image-Based Setup (IBS) technology that applies an entire Windows 7 image in Windows Imaging (WIM) format to the workstation's drive. You can deploy the image that Windows Setup applies to the drive using either traditional ZMG-based imaging or ZENworks Configuration Management 3rd Party Imaging Support.

Step 1 - Identify Windows 7-ready workstations
This first step is an assessment of the inventory of Windows XP workstations to determine which ones are capable of migrating to Windows 7. You can use either the ZENworks Configuration Management Inventory/Reporting Features or Microsoft's Windows Upgrade Advisor for this assessment.

Step 2 - Configure the Technician's Computer
In this step, you build and configure the Technician's Computer that you will use to create the control files and bundles needed to perform the migration. You begin by installing the operating system. (You can use either Windows XP SP3 or Windows 7. Novell recommends Windows 7.) You then install WAIK and ZENworks Configuration Management Image Explorer, and install and configure ZENworks Configuration Management Personality Migration.

You will use the Technician's Computer for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Creating a Sysprep Answer File to configure how the Windows 7 Standard Operating System (SOS) will be installed on the target workstations
  • Determining what workstation settings and data are to be backed up and restored as part of the workstation personality migration
  • Building ZENworks Configuration Management Application Bundles for installing ZENworks Configuration Management Personality Migration, capturing and applying workstation personality, and deploying images to the workstations
  • Building add-on images using ZENworks Configuration Management Image Explorer

Step 3 - Backup operating system settings and user data files
This step employs ZENworks Configuration Management Personality Migration and ZENworks Configuration Management Bundle Management to save the operating system settings and user data files of all Windows XP workstations so you can restore them to the Windows 7 workstations.

Step 4 - Build and configure the Reference Computer
At this point, you build a Reference Computer from which you create the Windows 7 Standard Operating System Image that you will apply to the target workstations. You begin by installing your selected version of Windows 7. The configuration of the Reference Computer is determined by the Sysprep Answer File that you created on the Technician's Computer in Step 2. You specify the name of the Sysprep Answer File you created when you run the Sysprep utility on the Reference Computer. After running Sysprep, you then make an image of the Reference Computer using ZENworks Configuration Management ZMG-based or ZENworks Configuration Management 3rd Party Imaging.

Typically, in addition to the Windows 7 SOS base, you will deliver content, such as the ZENworks Adaptive Agent and the Novell Client for Windows 7, to the target machines during the imaging operation. To do so, you create nondestructive add-on images using ZENworks Configuration Management Image Explorer. You also configure a default profile that will be assigned to all local users created on the target workstations.

Step 5 - Deploy Windows 7 SOS Image to target machines
In this step, you use ZENworks Configuration Management to deploy the Windows 7 SOS base image created from the Reference Computer, plus any add-on images you created, to the target machines. These add-on images include the ZENworks Configuration Management Adaptive Agent to make the target machines manageable from ZENworks, and may also include other standard line-of-business applications.

Step 6 - Restore user settings and data files
In this final step, you use ZENworks Configuration Management Personality Migration and ZENworks Configuration Management Bundle Management to restore the user data and settings that you saved in Step 2 to the migrated machines. After the target machines have been imaged, they will automatically reboot. Windows Setup will then configure Windows 7 according to the settings in your Sysprep XML Answer File that will also include the installation of the ZENworks Adaptive Agent. Once the agent is installed, the target machines will again reboot. As each target machine reboots, a device object for that machine will appear in the ZENworks Control Center making the machine fully manageable by ZENworks Configuration Management.

The Training

The Novell training course presents the generalized methodology, which you can easily customize to meet your organization's specific requirements. There are two recommended prerequisites for attendees. First, they should be experienced Windows users or support people. Second, they should have a basic understanding of ZENworks Configuration Management, including an understanding of the feature set and experience using the ZENworks Control Center.

Major Topics

The major topics covered include:

  • Understanding the new Windows 7 Image-Based Setup (IBS)Technology - Includes an understanding of how IBS differs from Windows XP Setup and an understanding of Windows Imaging Format (WIM)
  • Introduction to the Novell Migration Methodology - Includes an overview of the basic processes of the methodology and an introduction to the tools used
  • Understanding the Microsoft tool set - Includes Windows System Image Manager (WSIM) and Sysprep
  • Understanding ZENworks Personality Migration - Includes a definition of workstation personality, and an understanding of the components of ZENworks Personality Migration and ZENworks Personality Migration Template Builder
  • Building a Windows 7 Standard Operating System (SOS) image - Includes selecting the image format, building the Sysprep Answer File that is used to configure the Sysprep process that you will run on your Reference Computer, and running Sysprep
  • Creating add-on images to deploy with the Windows 7 SOS Image - Includes installing and using ZENworks Configuration Management Image Explorer, and building add-ons for the ZENworks Adaptive Agent and other third-party applications.
  • Deploying the SOS base image and add-ons - Includes creating the Image Bundle to deploy your Windows 7 SOS base image and add-on images, configuring the imaging hardware rule to trigger imaging operations, and building a ZENworks Directive Bundle to restore the personalities from the users' Windows XP machines to their new Windows 7 machines.

Lab Sessions
Lab sessions include:

  • Session 1. Configuring the Technician's Computer
  • Session 2. Configuring ZENworks Configuration Management Personality Migration
  • Session 3. Building the Sysprep XML Answer File
  • Session 4. Configuring and imaging the Reference Computer
  • Session 5. Creating add-on images using ZENworks Configuration Management Image Explorer
  • Session 6. Deploying the new Windows 7 SOS environment with add-ons

Take the Next Step

Find out more about how the Novell methodology and training class can help you lower the cost, effort and risk involved with Windows XP to Windows 7 migration. Visit http://www.novell.com/training/online/.

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