Windows XP to Windows 7 migration using free deployment tools

How do you ease the pain of migrating either five (or 5,000) desktops from Windows XP to Windows 7? Here are some effective Windows XP to 7 migration tips.

One of the concerns while doing a Windows XP to Windows 7 migration is to not lose any user documents, Internet Explorer favorites or other similar settings. In such situations, the Windows XP to Windows 7 migration can be made quite simple with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010 tool. However, there are a lot of popular deployment tools in Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) for different Windows XP to 7 migration scenarios. For example, in SMBs and large enterprises, and there are different tools which you can effectively utilize.

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Earlier, there used to be a lot of confusion about which migration tool to run for a specific purpose. However, certain tools can act as a meeting platform for different tools. Some of the popular migration tools that can be used for Windows XP to Windows 7 migration are:

·  ImageX: This is used to customize deployments. It was introduced in Windows 2007, and was used for all the bare metal requirements. Bare metal customization examples include requirements such as adding drivers or packages.

·  Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool.

· Windows Preinstallation Environment (WINPE).

· User State Migration Tool (USMT): The latest version is 4, which cannot be downloaded separately. One has to download the WAIK, and USMT is a part of this toolkit usable for effective migration of Windows XP to Windows 7.

Windows XP to 7 migration: The SMB scenario

Windows Easy Transfer (WET) is a very SMB-centric tool whose requirements will not be very complicated when used for Windows XP to 7 migration. WET is available in Windows XP. It can migrate only the program settings—not the program as such.

While using a transfer using WET, the data can be stored using end-user media. It creates an MIG file and stores data into it. Take a target machine and run Windows XP on it. Select the transfer option, and while doing the rerun, WET transfers all the profiles and settings. After that, you have to install the applications.

Enterprise Windows XP to 7 migration requirements

When it comes to enterprise scenarios of Windows XP to Windows 7 migration where the number of desktops can vary from 200 to 2,000, the SMB strategy cannot suffice. In this scenario, USMT and MDT 2010 come in extremely handy for Windows XP to Windows 7 migration. All capabilities use MDT. It can be installed on Windows 2007, 2008 and 2008 R2 machines. You will require WAIK for Windows 7, which has to be installed prior to installing MDT 2010.

After installing MDT 2010, you should create a deployment share—within it the applications, out-of-box drivers, operating systems and packages. The OS options which can be kept in the deployment share include options right from Windows XP to Windows 7. One can also deploy Windows Server editions.

Once you complete the above step during Windows XP to Windows 7 migration, you need to create a task sequence to bundle them together. The folders are not there by default, so you have to create them separately. You should give a logical name and select a template from the provided options. This task sequence will take the backup of the user data, wipe out everything from a particular machine, install Windows 7, join this client to the domain, install the applications, and recover the data. One has to specify a key during Windows XP to Windows 7 migration; if it is not specified one has to specify during the time of Windows 7 installation.

From the Windows XP machine, you should go to the deployment share, then go to the scripts folder, and from there go to Lite touch or zero touch. Lite touch will show you the task sequences to choose from for Windows XP to Windows 7 migration. From there make the selection of Windows 7. After that, it is just a matter of following the wizard and selecting options for migrating Windows XP to Windows 7.

To wrap it up, there are five essential basic steps that you should keep in mind when using MDT to migrate Windows XP to Windows 7. These are:

· Lite touch deployment.

· Install.

· Gather.

· Configure.

· Deploy.

About the author: Sumeet Khanna is the director of Windows Client Business Group, Microsoft India. He has been a speaker at various events on Windows Client and Windows Migration. The topic of Windows XP to Windows 7 migration was discussed at Microsoft TechEd 2010 held in Bengaluru.

(As told to Jasmine Desai.)

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