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Migrating off Windows XP -- getting to the finish line

Terry Chapman | Nov. 12, 2013
We look at the remaining streams of work to be done and a few practical tips.

Last week we covered understanding your organisation's workforce through workforce analysis and some practical ways to expedite application remediation. This week we wrap up this series by looking at the remaining streams of work to be done and a few practical tips.

Beyond the streams of work discussed last week, the remaining project streams undertaken when Microsoft Consulting Services undertakes a Windows migration are; image creation, user experience personalisation and infrastructure preparation.

The first of these — image creation — is probably the most well understood and proscriptive activities within the migration project. Managing a modern Windows 7 or 8/8.1 image is relatively straightforward.

There are two image creation questions that we commonly get asked. Which architecture to deploy, 32-bit or 64-bit Windows? Unless you have applications or business critical legacy device drivers that will not support the processor architecture, then your default choice should almost always be 64-bit. It is also common to run a 32-bit version of Office (mainly due to plug-in compatibility) on a 64-bit version of Windows — in fact this is how Microsoft runs it own desktop infrastructure.

The second common question is 'what do I include in the image?' The approach that many organisations use is to include only applications which will be installed on the majority (greater than 80% to 90%) of end user devices. Including these applications in the image will reduce the deployment duration however bear in mind that applications with frequent updates should be excluded. Next up; user experience personalisation.

In essence, this capability provides a consistent and predictable user experience when staff access multiple Windows based platforms; for instance across different desktops, tablets and/or virtualised desktops. While this ability used be analogous with roaming profiles and logon scripts, time and technology has moved on since the early 2000's.

There are a number 'out of the box' methods to enable this personalisation, including folder redirection, group policies and preferences as well as Windows 8/8.1 setting synchronisation through SkyDrive and the Microsoft account. It is also possible to use a dedicated toolset for more granular control such as Microsoft's User Experience Virtualisation (UE-V) tool or other third party tools. For staff moving between different devices, getting this capability right can make a big difference between having satisfied or dissatisfied end users.

The final project stream beyond the deployment itself is infrastructure preparation. This stream can be fairly broad depending on the current state of your existing infrastructure. At a high level this typically includes network and security readiness, computer management and deployment tools (such as System Center Configuration Manager, the free Microsoft Deployment Toolkit or third party equivalents). This is where having an architect assigned across the project can help avoid unexpected and unpleasant surprises and delays as the project progresses.

 

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