Ready Vista migration map

Office 2003 to Office 2007. Windows XP Pro to Windows Vistax-of-6. It's all looming on the horizon, and even though that horizon moved to early 2007 as of this week, it's still going to spawn headaches if you don't make adequate preparations. To avoid ruining your Fall, you're best off planning your user-migration process now rather than in, say, November.

Just put a plan in place. Even the skeleton of a plan is better than nothing at all. Someone's going to pin you down during some meeting between now and then asking questions about estimated manpower, migration dollars, and so forth. Better to be able to pull something smart-looking off the tablet in the boardroom rather than just staring off into space and calculating off the cuff.

First off, check Microsoft. For administrators using SMS (Systems Management Server) 2003, Microsoft's done some real work on automating the user-migration process. WIM (Windows Imaging) allowed Microsoft to add tools to SMS such as the OS Deployment Feature Pack, which combines a small-footprint OS, called Windows PE (Preinstallation Environment), with SMS to download predefined XP OS images. All that with a "zero-touch" moniker, which basically means "automated."

Microsoft has also added the USMT (User State Migration Tool), which tacks on top of the SMS OS tools, allowing admins to specify which user settings are to be moved over to the new deployment. And that's far more than just MyDocs and your IE Favorites; it includes favorite fonts, display settings, Outlook Express or Microsoft Office, and more. Theoretically, you should be able to swap XP for Vista and upload every Microsoft application to the new OS using USMT.

Trouble is, few folks use only Microsoft apps, and that's the rub when using USMT. Building migration scripts for custom and commercially purchased third-party software isn't rocket science with USMT, but it is tedious and will take time. If SMS is the broad tool you're looking at to deploy Vista, then familiarizing yourself with USMT now would be a good idea.

Additionally, maybe it's just me, but I never like making application migration part of the user-specific settings process. I like defining an OS and application portfolio for every class of users (usually by department), rolling that out as part of a desktop imaging process and then updating individual user settings on top of that. Microsoft has the tools in place to handle that with or without SMS if you're willing to do a little legwork.

Alternatively, look at some third-party tools. If you've got another desktop management tool in place, calling your rep now and getting particulars on his or her company's Vista vagaries means your early summer will be much less hectic. Vendors such as Altiris and LANDesk have already made Vista compatibility announcements. Altiris, in fact, is part of Vista TAP (Technology Adoption Program) beta, so you know the code is out there for those guys.

But selecting a tool is only part of the process. Planning means taking a close look at where Vista makes the most sense in a tiered rollout. My favorite approach is to look at hardware-lease end dates. If your client PCs are coming up for lease renewal anyway, rolling out new operating systems to those users is made simpler by the fact that new hardware will come Vista-ready.

Just be sure you've tested all business applications for those users under Vista before making the move. Applications then become part of a new OS image, and user-specific settings can then be relegated to either the third-party OS management tool's features or the internal Windows tools you're already using.

Don't get pushed into do-it-all-at-once fever. Rollouts are stressful, so there's a natural inclination to "just get it over with." But having several smaller rollouts is a far better recipe for success than trying to land the big fish all at once.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Oliver Rist

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?