Windows 7 Deployment Tools Interview with Jeremy Chapman, Part 2

Before we dive into part two of our interview with Jeremy Chapman, Windows Senior Product Manager, on new image management and deployment technologies in Windows 7, we want to remind you to join Mark Russinovich for a Virtual Roundtable discussion on Windows 7, airing live on February 12, 2009 at 11:00 am PST .

Stephen: In our previous post, we’ve covered the building of images and the delivery of these images. Let’s talk about migration of user data. Migration of user data is a place where deployment projects seem to slow down. With some users having upwards of 50GB of data on their system can make it hard enough, but needing to ensure end-users are not accessing the data during migration means you can only move people outside working hours. This drives up project cost and can impact the relationship with the end users. How will Windows 7 help change this?

Jeremy: You’ve hit on one of my favorite new features. For these types of upgrades we’re introducing Hard-link migration in Windows. In the past we would detect, then migrate files either off the PC or to a protected location locally on the disk, wipe everything except the protected location, then remap or re-migrate those files back into the appropriate locations in the new OS. This would typically be a 30-60 minute time hit up front and then on the backend, even longer if moving to/from a network share. With Hard-link migration, we catalog where the user files are on the disk and create a catalog of hard-links to each file. When an OS is deployed, everything on the disk except those files is wiped and the link catalog protects them wherever they reside on the disk. The new OS is laid down and the files are remapped into the new folder structure and its completely seamless to the user. We can also migrate from a Windows.old folder for people using that option in WDS. In the end, nothing actually gets moved, so it is much faster.

Stephen: So how fast can the deployment of a desktop go with Windows 7?

Jeremy: I’ve tested this quite a bit on my personal PCs and I am typically moving 20-30GB between Windows Vista and Windows 7 in about 5-6 minutes. If I don’t use hard links and move the files to a protected location on the local disk, the same migration takes about an hour and for both gather and restore phases combined. Times will vary based on hardware and the sheer number of files, but it is much faster than the physics of moving the files has been.

Stephen: This will really help streamline a deployment project and limit the impact on users. Windows 7 makes it easier to build images, deliver these images and now migrate users. Before we wrap up, can you give us a brief overview of how tools like Microsoft Assessment Planning, the Application Compatibility Toolkit and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit will work with Windows 7?

Jeremy: All of these tools will be updated for Windows 7. MAP will be updated to provide detailed hardware assessment for Windows 7. With ACT, we are looking to provide more support for 64 bit and compatibility testing against Windows Server. Microsoft Deployment Toolkit will integrate all of the foundational elements from Windows AIK tools, hard links, etc. If you know these tools now it will be very easy to get up to speed quickly with Windows 7-supporting versions.

Stephen: It sounds like everything IT pros have learned about Windows Vista deployment will carry forward, and that Windows 7 will make it easier, faster and more flexible. If you were still in your old IT Pro capacity outside of Microsoft, what would you be doing right now to prepare for Windows 7?

Jeremy: I’d download the Beta and start combing the CHM files corresponding with the tools we just discussed. The Windows AIK is now available on the Microsoft Download Center and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 Beta is an open Beta program on Microsoft Connect. You can start building Windows 7 images and testing the deployment tools now.

Stephen: Good advice. Thank you, Jeremy, for taking the time to sit down with me and help get our IT Pro community up-to-date on Windows 7 deployment, and for folks looking for more Windows 7 information and resources, be sure to visit the Windows 7 tab on