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7 Tips to Ease Windows 7 Migration

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When Windows Vista was released and not received well by business users, Microsoft answered with Windows 7. Many people in the IT world believe Windows 7 was what Windows Vista should have been. It now appears that the lifecycle and longevity of Windows 7 will be just as long as the lifecycle of Windows XP.

Given the positive reception to 7, many businesses are preparing the make the Great Migration — yet they greet this process with no small nervousness. However, the migration from Windows XP to Windows 7 does not have to be a daunting task.

Here are 7 tips to ease your migration:

Tip #1 Virtualization

Microsoft has made it easy to migrate to Windows 7 with Windows Virtual PC. Basically, Microsoft repackaged Virtual PC into Windows Virtual PC and embedded it into the Windows 7 OS. Additionally, Microsoft provides you with Windows XP mode, which allows you to run legacy applications that do not work on the Windows 7 platform. Windows XP mode is simply a downloadable packaged Windows XP virtual machine. Taking advantage of Windows XP Mode allows you to migrate without having to worry about your old applications or drivers not working.

Tip #2 Windows 7 Service Pack 1

Service Pack 1 is due in the first half of 2011. Furthermore, Window 7 Service Pack 1 is in beta and can be tested in a pilot deployment. Most organizations do not want to deploy any software or new Operating System (OS) until the release of the first service pack.

Tip #3 Clean Install vs. Upgrade

In most scenarios, it is recommended that you perform a clean install of Windows 7 and leverage Windows XP Mode for legacy applications. Besides, the in-place-upgrade is not an option because you cannot upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7. In order to perform this type of upgrade, you must be on Windows Vista Service Pack 1 or later.

Furthermore, if you are considering 64-bit deployments but your current deployments are Windows XP /Vista 32-bit, you cannot upgrade from a 32-bit OS to a 64-bit OS. You must perform a clean install of 64-bit. This also requires 64-bit drivers for all of your hardware.

Tip #4 User State Migration Tool

If you are migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7, a clean install is required. The User State Migration Tool allows you migrate user accounts, OS and application settings. It is the safest way to convert your personalized user settings from Windows XP to Windows 7.

Tip #5 Create a Dual Boot Configuration

Many organizations resize the Windows XP Partition and install Windows 7 in a dual boot configuration. This scenario can ease your migration because you can boot into Windows XP to browse your configuration and then boot into Windows 7 to recreate the environment. Once you have properly configured Windows 7, simply delete the dual boot configuration and configure Windows 7 as your primary OS.

Tip #6 Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit

MAP allows you to perform a complete assessment of your company’s hardware readiness for Windows 7 in a few hours. Additionally, it provides a summary and detailed report of your hardware. Information such as which of the computers on your network are capable of running Windows 7 or Windows 7 with Hyper-V virtualization are displayed in a myriad of available reports.

Tip #7 Planning

Planning is the best tip I can provide. Virtualization, dual boot configuration and imaging are all going to help you succeed but if you do not plan properly and assess your environment, you are doomed to fail. It is important to assess your domain and do the necessary work prior to rolling out one of the methods documented above. Create a rollout strategy and get feedback from key members. Once you have a plan in place, use some of the tools mentioned above to migrate to Windows 7.

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