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back to article Prepping the great Windows 7 migration

Deciding to move to Windows 7 is the easy bit. The crunch comes in planning and executing the migration. Should it be a big bang or incremental? How much new hardware and software is needed? What can go wrong? The truth is that a lot can go wrong, but only if you plan carelessly. Microsoft has produced a bewildering array of …

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W7 upgraded the wrong partition

Just pray that you don't have any older PCs, especially laptops, without BIOS support for boot disks/partitions over 137GB. When I tried to upgrade to W7 it made my second partition (which was 200GB) into the primary bootable partition, and because the BIOS didn't support a 200GB drive it made my laptop unbootable. Recovery meant deleting the 200GB partition so that the laptop could boot off the original 100GB C: partition, and hence I lost all my data.

Why did W7 try to upgrade the D: partition when the C: partition was the bootable one?

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"hence I lost all my data"

No, you lost all your data because you failed to make a complete backup before attempting to install a new OS.

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Wow, Tough Luck

So far I've "upgraded" ten XP stations to 7 with nary a problem. Let's see, that was five with old AMD socket "A" 3200 XP CPUs (stable and they run faster than XP ever did). two Asus Eee PC 1000HEs (quick with long battery life), one Compaq laptop, one desktop with an ultra modern (for me) AMD dual core Brisbane (?) 5000 CPU and one Toshiba netbook. Installed SP1 on them all via the 500+MB downloaded installer without a single hitch. I must be living right. Or maybe the process just isn't so hard after all.

Partitions? Not a problem since I used GPartEd and did it My Way. Me and Old Blue Eyes got it down pat.

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N2

I thought

That backing up a partition was well embedded into everyone's 'firmware' before embarking on this sort of exercise with anything Microsoft.

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Data and Installs

"Why did W7 try to upgrade the D: partition when the C: partition was the bootable one?"

Because you took the easy way out and just clicked on the "easy mode" button. Always pick "Custom" and you'll get the option to pick with partition to dump Win7 on to (as well as allowing you to format, repartition, etc).

As for data, you should have backed up. In failure of that, the disk may have become unbootable, yes, however, just pop it in a desktop and you can still recover your data (unless windows decided to format your D:, at which point, refer to answer #1).

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It was a breeze,...

... just installed Win 7 Pro on a free partition of my computer then put in latest version of HyperOS and I've got my three computers in one (one Win 7 and two XP Pro)! No pain!

HyperOS is a great and safe way to upgrade (assuming your hardware is capable). Just use Acronis to create a partition then install and slap in HyperOS.

You can then safely use your "legacy" systems as well as your shiny new Win7 until you're happy / confident that all is well.

No - I don't own shares in HyperSystems nor work for them - just been using HyperOS as a security and backup tool for many years. And they're British (flies flag and sings "God save...") or maybe Scottish.... (even better!).

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FAIL

Unfortunately this assumes you want to

Seeing as MS has abandoned XP, we're doing the same and abandoning them.

Win 7 is better than Vista = true

Win 7 is still a piece of crap = true

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WTF?

Yes...?

Yes, most 'how-to' style articles do assume an interest to do something...

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C'mon, XP is dead

Really, stop crying about the demise of XP and how MS is ditching it. It's ancient and long dead.

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Win 7 is still a piece of crap = true

Couldn't agree more, on identical well specified, dual core recent laptops:

one with WinXP - flies

one with Win 7 - snail - more like a 486 with 1Mb of ram

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N2

Time to upgrade?

From '2000 to XPee

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@AC: ancient, etc.

The same non-sense was uttered by Vista proponents.

W7 is hardly better than XP, and struggles to justify the expense of buying the licence, deploying it, upgrading HW, training users, etc.

MS will still sell it because most IT depts are afraid to leave MS and can' t use an unsupported OS, but XP would still do fine without the politics.

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@N2

"Couldn't agree more, on identical well specified, dual core recent laptops:

one with WinXP - flies

one with Win 7 - snail - more like a 486 with 1Mb of ram"....... Actually Windows 7 is VERY fast on any well specified dual core recent laptop.

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@N2

Based on what I've see at my workplace (around 400 windows desktops and laptops of various vintages, mostly Dells, but also other random stuff including experimental control equipment that ends up being kept running for up to 20 years in some cases), I'm unwilling to believe that anything which can properly run XP (ie XP Pro SP3 with IE8 and all .NET Frameworks installed) can't at least run Win7 acceptably with Aero turned off.

If you're running machines with XP that only meet MS' recommended spec, of course you'll have grief. A current XP install needs at least a 1.5GHz proc, 1GB RAM, and about a 40GB partition to be usable. Anything less and you need to dick about with turning off/removing services. And once you've got that, well, Win7 will run roughly equivalently in terms of performance.

Of course, something like Fedora will probably run rings around either option, but that's beside the point.

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Confused...

The examples from Pella show they have migrated 1200 PCs in just over 6 months - that averages about 10 PCs per working day. That's not much progress in my mind - I know it isn't as straight-forward as a new install, but I also can't imagine they have just one person doing the work?

1 person = 10 a day

3 people = 3-4 a day

5 people = 2 a day

Are my maths screwy, do I just have too high expectations or is that just not very impressive?

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe...

Maybe it was more like - four months developing the build, testing the software required to run on it and making sure that it generally all worked. Then, two months of rolling out the upgrades, staged, each weekend in controlled tranches.

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Maybe...

Doesn't sound like that's the case? "Pella did pilot projects with the Windows 7 beta in February 2009, and started its full rollout in November 2009 when Windows 7 was released. By June 2010 the company had migrated 1,200 computers"

Pilot projects from Feb 2009, rollout between Nov 2009 & June 2010 to 1,200 machines.

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Missing the big issue

Which is that Win7 comes with IE8. Re-writing every 'browser-app' is the biggest hurdle to ever getting a business case.

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Anonymous Coward

Or...

You could use compatibility mode?

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If...

It worked all the time.

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Or

You could ditch IE all together...

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Linux

Different decision

Deciding to move to Windows 7 is the easy bit.

no....

Deciding whether or not to move to Windows 7 is the easy bit. Take a wild guess at the answer

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Just had a Compatability Mode issue

We have 40 PC's (W764, quad core). 10 workstations needed to run a remote .exe.

We suffered random stops, crashes, even though the software provider swore it was W764 ready.

Ran compatitbility mode which allows you to run compatability mode on a remote .exe and it resolved the issue.

Very impressed, no need to resort to virtual XP mode. Yeah!

W7 does come with a lot of reverse compatibility resolution options.

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What do you mean XP is dead?

Every month or two somebody asks if their old machine can get on the internet, as they would like to try this new fangled e-mail surfing thing that their grandchildren say they need to be on.

The machine is generally something like a PII that has been sitting in a corner for ages, maybe doing a bit of word processing. It's running 95/98/ME.

They don't know whether they really want the internet, so aren't prepared to spend much money.

So, a bit more cheap RAM, a modem (they won't sign up to broadband at this stage) and a copy of XP so that they can get anti-virus.

Works fine, and they usually end up on broadband before long when the photos start to arrive.

They don't need 7, and see no reason to pay for it.

Personally I run 3 off on XP (one just built), one laptop on ME (mainly as an ereader, never goes on net) and a Ubuntu to play with (useless for my purposes).

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Err...

Ubuntu useless for your purposes?

I don't want to try and tell you what your purposes are, you know better than me, but your user cases as described above suite Ubuntu perfectly.

On top of that you have less worry about those machines being added to the latest botnet as virus definitions go out of date due to those dial-up users never updating their software.

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User uses are not my uses

Yes, Ubuntu would do what they want, though it would cause chaos when the kids and grandkids got on the machine and tried to install their CBeebies type applications.

My uses are different - in particular I need to edit data on an MSAccess database, run Autoroute, run Birdguides v8, run a tidal predictor, Astronomy simulator, and several others.

Wine? Too much fiddling about - and surely better to run the real thing than an emulator? And no, dual boot is not an answer if you want to run things simultaneously.

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Oh dear...

I see - yes, they are all very specialist pursuits, I didn't even Autoroute still existed what with Bing maps, Google maps and all the integration with modern smartphones etc.

As for Wine, I agree (about running it as an emulator, not the red stuff) better to have native apps - so if you can't find them then I guess you are stuck in the old world.

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Windows 7 is a gimmick

Windows 7 is just like Vista rehashed. Full of gimmicks and fancy tricks. Aero Snap? There's a far better version in XP called Tile Horizontally or Tile Vertically that isn't limited to arranging just two windows but any number you select. There are many good useful features of XP removed and broken in Windows 7. The file manager, Windows Explorer was utterly destroyed in Vista and becomes worse in Windows 7. Poor usability. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_features_removed_in_Windows_7 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_features_removed_in_Windows_Vista . Unnecessary GUI changes. Vista was innonative but horrible usability wise and removed things. Windows 7 is Vista with few new features and again many features removed and fancy gimmicks and shiny graphics added. Sure it's more secure and XP is also *secure enough*.

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Windows 7 is a gimmick

Windows 7 is just like Vista rehashed. Full of gimmicks and fancy tricks. Aero Snap? There's a far better version in XP called Tile Horizontally or Tile Vertically that isn't limited to arranging just two windows but any number you select. There are many good useful features of XP removed and broken in Windows 7. The file manager, Windows Explorer was utterly destroyed in Vista and becomes worse in Windows 7. Poor usability. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_features_removed_in_Windows_7 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_features_removed_in_Windows_Vista . Unnecessary GUI changes. Vista was innonative but horrible usability wise and removed things. Windows 7 is Vista with few new features and again many features removed and fancy gimmicks and shiny graphics added. Sure it's more secure and XP is also *secure enough*.

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SCCM

They've just begun using this here at work, what a pain in the arse, or maybe they've just buggered up it's configuration like they have with so much else. "Manually enter the MAC address of a PC to be deployed, now move it from this container to that one, now reboot and cross your fingers, now wait half an hour for it to do several reboots and installs, now move it to this container and delete the second copy of the object SCCM created for some reason, then reboot again and wait another half an hour..."

Christ. I prefer our old imaging method - boot off linux cd, run script wrapped around dd, reboot into Windows, run NewSID, join domain. Fifteen minutes total, one reboot, no faffing about with containers and other nonsense.

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Win7 on laptops

We found a massive difference between the performance of Win7 that came on a laptop direct from dell, and the performance after a reinstall with all the dell crapware left off.

I've been using WDS for a few months now, and while that side of things works great, unattend files are still the bane of my life. Getting a machine to both activate and join the domain seems to rely more on the phase of the moon than any changes I make (or don't) to the xml file.

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@rattus rattus

Yes. Yes, they have indeed buggered up the configuration. What you have described smacks of a lack of planning and/or understanding.

I've been building and implementing a multi-site SCCM infrastucture for about two years now, and while I can certainly understand the duanting complexity of the SCCM system, the power and flexability is staggering.

Our desktop environments vary wildly in their hardware/software setup, so an image-based OS deployment system like RIS, Ghost, or WDS is completely impractical. The difference between those and SCCM is dramatic. Our server Has the drivers and software for every machine, and applies them intelligently during setup.

SCCM takes a lot of investment of time to get right, but once it is, it's magic. One example is we have a large number of machines with M-Audio soundcards. M-Audio haven't written their drivers correctly, so the OS deployment will install the drivers, but not the software needed to configure them (this is possible, as the Intel Media Graphics Accelorator does this correctly).

To compensate, I have a collection whose membership rule is that the machine has said M-Audio card. I then have a sub-collection whose membership rule is that the machine DOES NOT have the M-Audio software. A Silent install is advertised to that sub collection. These get updated each time the machine performs a scheduled hardware inventory, so it's all completely automated.

The collection rules can be based on any information that can be collected from Active directory, network information or the WMI repository. I've found that the WMI can tell you the serial number off the battery in the laptop, if you know how to ask it!

Sounds like your guys are running the site in mixed-mode rather than native. That's why a second computer account is generated after the OS deployment.

You can avoid inputting the mac address by simply joining the computer to the domain, pushing the SCCM client out, and then adding it to the OS deployment collection. I've done this a few times, but I've often found that OEM Windows install takes so long to do its' initial configuration, it's quicker to input the mac and run a bare-metal deployment via pxe.

Dell are the best for this. Not only do they routinely put the mac on the outside of the packaging, but when you enter the service tag on their site, you can download a CAB file containing all the drivers, which you can import straight into SCCM. No mess, no fuss.

The software suite we install during OS deployment is a pretty standard afair, again, because all the systems are so different. You can create rules during the task sequence that check for variables, but I found it easier to keep that part simple, and have software advertisments based on the computers OU container, group memberships, and the most commonly logged on user.

It doesn't deploy all the software during the initial setup, but we give it to the user, and the silent installs cause no disruption. They just suddenly find a new program in their start menu.

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Sanity aids

These alternatives may restore sanity after an initial brush with WIndows 7:

http://classicshell.sourceforge.net/

http://locate32.net/index.php

http://thehotfixshare.net/board/index.php?autocom=downloads&showfile=11829

http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/888-quick-launch-enable-disable.html

http://www.lopesoft.com/en/fmtools/info.html

http://amip.tools-for.net/files/dips64/

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Upgrading to Windows XP

Recently I trashed my Windows 7 Virtualbox in favor of Windows XP.

Not only everything works faster, but also programs that deal with the hardware, actually work.

What do I run my Virtualbox under? Fedora Linux.

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