Continuing our Move to Windows 7

After recently spending a week in Nashville and Dallas, talking to folks about desktop virtualization, I’m getting back from the Microsoft® Management Summit in Las Vegas. It seems like a terrible shame to spend a week in Las Vegas locked up in a conference room, giving demos and presentations , but the blue guys had to wait. For now, I want to continue talking about the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), and how it can help make the move to the Windows® 7 operating system a bit easier.

In my last blog post, I described how MDOP can help you plan for Windows 7. For example, you can build an inventory to help you choose which applications you want to leave behind, making the transition less cluttered. You can build this inventory by using the Microsoft Asset Inventory Service (AIS). You can also use Microsoft System Center Desktop Error Monitoring (DEM) to help monitor the impact of your Windows 7 migration.

After the planning phase, a Windows 7 deployment project moves to the development phase. Whether or not that phase is formal in your organization, MDOP can help make it easier.

Managing application compatibility is one of the most painful and time-consuming parts of desktop deployment. Using AIS to build an inventory, and then rationalizing the inventory to reduce its size, is the first step in reducing the pain. But most organizations still go through the tedious process of testing each application and mitigating issues.

MDOP provides a different option. Instead of testing and mitigating each application on Windows 7, you can use Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (Med-V) to deploy unverified applications. After you’ve rolled out Windows 7 and caught your breath, you can revisit those applications: testing their compatibility with Windows 7, mitigating any issues you find, and deploying them natively. By using this strategy, you can move to Windows 7 more quickly, skipping much of the pain associated with application compatibility.

Application packaging and deployment is another chore. For a large-scale deployment project, you need to automate the deployment and configuration of many—too many—applications. First, you repackage applications so that they install and configure themselves silently. After testing them, you must decide how to deploy them: by including them in your image or by using products such as Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007. How you package and deploy these applications also has a significant impact on the maintenance experience later. (I’ll discuss this topic more deeply in my next blog post.)

MDOP has a feature to help improve this aspect of deployment, too: Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V). Our customers say that packaging applications for use with App-V (a process called sequencing) is easier and quicker than packaging the applications for native deployment. It isn’t uncommon to sequence a large application in less than an hour. However, the big win for App-V is deployment. Using App-V to deploy applications can be far easier than other deployment methods. For example, after sequencing an application, deploying it is as simple as assigning the application to a user or group. Recalling the application is just as easy, and App-V enables you to update applications without interrupting users.

Microsoft provides numerous free, powerful deployment tools for Windows 7. The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 is the most notable example. For our Software Assurance customers that already license MDOP, I encourage you to dust it off and consider the value that it can add to these tools. In my next blog post, I’ll describe MDOP features that can help you better manage your organization’s desktop computers after Windows 7 deployment. For more information about how MDOP fits into the desktop deployment process, see Optimizing Windows 7 Deployment with MDOP.