How to Start a Windows 7 Pilot Deployment

Applies To: Windows 7

With the release of the RC version of Windows 7, now is a good time to start thinking about doing a Windows 7 pilot deployment. Windows 7 contains many new features in networking (in particular, in BranchCache and DirectAccess), in security (AppLocker and BitLocker being some examples), and in manageability (e.g., power management and PowerShell) that are worth exploring.


For an overview of on the new features in Windows 7 RC, see What's New for IT Pros in Windows 7, and for details on the feature changes since the Windows 7 Beta release, see What’s Changed in This Release Candidate of Windows 7.
For a complete view of Windows 7 resources, articles, demos and guidance, please visit the Springboard Series for Windows 7 on the Windows Client TechCenter.

Phases of Pilot Deployment Process

The How to Start a Windows Vista Pilot Deployment gives an excellent overview of how to successfully manage a Windows Vista pilot program that provides the best experience for pilot users and helps to provide positive project justification to business decision makers in your organization. The fundamental standard information technology (IT) best practices described in that document also apply to a Windows 7 deployment and are outlined below.

Figure 1: Phases of the Pilot Deployment Process

Phase Key Best Practice

Assess the Environment

Use the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.5 to inventory and provide compatibility data for all the applications that your organization uses.

Select Users for the Pilot

Rule out those users who have mission-critical job functions or whose computers or most frequently used applications do not meet the recommended hardware or software requirements for Windows 7.

Plan the Pilot Phases

A) Proof of Concept Phase

Set up some computers to match your company’s standard configuration, and then test your deployment plan against those computers.

B) Phase 1 Pilot

Start with a small pilot: limit your deployment to 25 or fewer computers.

C) Phase 2 Pilot

Slowly increase the number of computers in your pilot.

Prepare the Infrastructure

Use the Deployment TechCenter to investigate and select your deployment.

Provide the Necessary Training

Prepare and educate the IT staff, help desk support staff, and end users about the deployment and the impact. You can find information about Windows 7 on the Springboard Series for Windows 7 on the Windows Client TechCenter.

Work Around Application Compatibility Issues

Use Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode to make it easy to use and to help you run many older Windows XP applications in Windows 7. For more information, see Windows Virtual PC Evaluation Guide. Also check software vendor sites for updates to applications.

Evaluate the Success of the Pilot

Check the results of the pilot against your organization’s success criteria. For example, was the pilot rolled out with minimal impact to users and IT staff or result in lower support costs or increased end user productivity?