From the Editor

In various ways, all of us are desktop admins at one point in our lives. Right now, I’m on the phone with my mother. I do about two hours a week on this assignment; the current challenge seems to revolve around her running "Microsoft" and not being able to find an icon. What does that even mean? "Microsoft" what? The answer comes back: "Microsoft 2003."

While most amateur desktop admins go through this type of emergency support at some point in their lives, the life of the professional admin presents its own set of diverse challenges. If you’re a desktop admin, you know the pain of rolling out a new software build to your entire organization. Different groups have different requirements. What works for your accounting department might hamper your developers. As you know, security is always a major issue. You have to balance a strong update policy with procedures that avoid the worst breaking changes to a user’s machine. If it’s not handled properly, they’re going to try and go off-program at the earliest opportunity. Tools such as Systems Management Server (SMS) are vital to a healthy network and user base, but proper administration of such tools are important to internal customer satisfaction.

If keeping your client base updated and patched is on your daily task list, this issue of TechNet Magazine was created with you in mind. We’ll take a guided tour through the world of desktop deployment and systems management. Let’s start with deployment and best practices. There are many tools that can help you get the most out of your deployments. In this issue, we discuss three packages that can help your daily work.

The Microsoft Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) provides a set of end-to-end best practices that will help guide admins through the process of planning, testing, and rolling out Windows, Office, and more to desktops throughout their orgs. This framework provides guidance and tools that will help any organization, large or small.

The Operating System Deployment Feature Pack (OSDFP) for SMS 2003 helps administrators develop customized solutions for the automated deployment of Windows images. Featuring image-capture management, OS package management, image deployment, and rich reporting, the OSDFP can make what might be one of the most arduous tasks in the world of administration a whole lot easier. We’ll take a look under the cover to see exactly how it works.

Finally we take an in-depth look at the User State Migration Tool (USMT), which makes it easier to preserve user profiles when installing a new OS. No longer will you need to utter those painful words, "You’ll have to start from scratch. Did you back everything up?"

SMS is really an administration tool that spans both deployment and management, so our management section will discuss both SMS and Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) in greater detail. When you first deploy SMS across your enterprise, you’ll need to perform careful capacity planning. Once you have it up and running, there are many interesting things you can do with it to keep your company humming along. We’ll look at using SMS status messages to troubleshoot an advertisement that didn’t go as planned. Finally, we’ll call MOM and discuss solution accelerators for MOM 2005 as well as setting up efficient reporting with MOM and SMS.

Of course, once you’re using these tools to manage your deployments you’ll have extra time to read. So, sign up for your own subscription of TechNet Magazine by surfing on over to —J.T.

Thank you to the following Microsoft technical experts: Dan Drew, David Hitchen, Jeffrey Johnson, Manish Karla, Mike Lewis, Maureen Magnotta, Jon Markarian, Dave Morehouse, Michael Murgolo, Jim Schmidt, Kyle Smith, and Stephen Toub.

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