Since Windows 7 is now available and downloadable for Microsoft Partners (and everyone else with a MSDN or TechNet subscription), one of my first jobs at work is to make plans to replace our Windows Vista Enterprise boxes with Windows 7 Enterprise. I’m about to upgrade all client PCs on the network to Microsoft Windows 7, but before I’m able to do so, I might need the following:
A Windows 7 compatible deployment solution
Microsoft offers a couple of solutions to deploy Windows 7. Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 with Service Pack 2 and Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 will both support deploying Windows 7, but both solutions are currently in beta. Symantec’s Ghost Solution Suite isn’t ready either, and if deploying Windows Vista is any indication, we’ll need to do some extra work to make it happen, only this time it involves a separate 100MB boot partition.
A Windows 7 compatible volume activation infrastructure
You can use Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 as Key Management Server (KMS) host for their respective inactivated counterparts. All of the existing KMS host platforms (Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008) will support Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 KMS clients, but an update is required on these existing platforms to enable that functionality. The download will be available soon…
Windows 7 compatible anti-malware software
Microsoft offers a page with compatible anti-malware solutions for Microsoft Windows 7, but the links all point to pages with beta versions of upcoming anti-malware software. Microsofts own Security Essentials and Forefront Client Security are notably absent from the page. The first is still in beta. The latter works beautifully with 32bit and 64bit installations of Windows 7 though, but tangible support is notably absent.
A Windows 7 compatible backup solution
While you can always rely on Windows backup to safeguard your backups, it’s not the most cost-effective way to maintain copies of your files. Microsofts own System Center Data Protection Manager does not support Windows 7 yet (nor does it even support all features on Windows Server 2008 yet) and no-one on the team has even hinted on an availability date for full Windows 7 support…
A Windows 7 compatible monitoring solution
While you can always use SNMP to monitor everything you want, sometimes it’s just a whole lot easier to use a monitoring solution with management packs. Microsoft offers System Center Operations Manager, for example. SCOM Windows 7 support? Windows 7 MOM packs? huh!?
A Windows 7 compatible management infrastructure
The question popped up in the Windows Vista era and it’s still unanswered: Can I use Windows 7 to manage Active Directory on Windows Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2003 like I was used to in Windows XP? Holding back systems administrators to manage their Windows Server systems isn’t exactly going to help them migrate to a newer version of the Windows client…
Managing Windows clients by scripts, group policies and group policy preferences also needs attention. The Excel worksheet containing the Windows 7 Group Policy Reference isn’t out yet and neither is the Windows 7 Security Guide. The Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for Windows 7 aren’t released either by the way…
A Windows 7 compatible software management solution
To me software management is about software metering and software asset management: To know how much an application is used, what it costs and when the cost outweigh the need. Do you know of a software product, that’s capable of metering on Windows 7, supported of course…
A Windows 7 compatible application delivery solution
Working with App-V and wanting to migrate to Windows 7? For 32bit Windows 7 installations App-V 4.5 with Service Pack 1 will suffice to get your application bubbles on these systems. 64bit Windows is still out of luck, though. 64bit support is slated for App-V 4.6, which only recently went into beta.
Windows 7 compatible applications (and support)
Users with Windows and Office don’t make most companies run. Line of Business (LoB) applications are needed for business purposes most of the time. They’d better be 100% compatible too. Not like Office Outlook 2002 on Windows Vista, which couldn’t remember it’s IMAP or POP passwords…
As a Training Center we have a couple of PCs using software from Pearson VUE and Thomson ProMetrics, so we can provide our own exam facilities for certification. Pearson VUE doesn’t support Windows 7. They don’t even support Windows Vista for their applications, burdening me with four Windows XP boxes.
Don’t underestimate software though: Software comes in many shapes and sizes. Some shows up in the list of installed applications, some don’t. Others are mere plug-ins for Internet Explorer or Windows Media Player…
A Windows 7 compatible Virtual Private Networking (VPN) solution
Remember Cisco and their Windows Vista 64bit IPSec VPN client fiasco? Checkpoint wasn’t very fast to support 64bit Windows Vista. (April 13, 2009)
If your company relies on road warriors and their ability to connect to corporate data and servers for their Line of Business (LoB) applications, you need to take a good look at your remote connectivity. A Terminal Services Gateway, Citrix Secure Gateway or DirectAccess solution might solve your VPN issues…
Windows 7 compatible hardware
Windows 7 offers a few solutions to common problems. Encrypting USB media (Bitlocker-to-go) and full Windows XP compatibility through Windows XP Mode (Virtual Windows XP) or Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) are two of these great solutions. The first however requires a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip by default and the latter requires virtualization technology. (VT) If you want to enjoy these solutions you’ll need the hardware.
Windows 7 compatible and signed drivers
New hardware means new drivers. AMD has released drivers for their ATi cards, but not all hardware manufacturers are as ready for Windows 7 as they are. When you’re making the change towards 64bit computing, like we are, you should pay special attention to your drivers: Most 32bit drivers are incompatible with 64bit Windows.
Standardizing on a single piece of desktop and a single piece of laptop hardware is a good idea, but with drivers it can also be a huge pain… What if the manufacturer of your hardware doesn’t offer drivers? or worse… poorly written drivers…
Windows 7 End User Training
The most productive Windows version ever… Sure, with End User Training. Who provides it?
Windows 7 certification
Of course my boss wants me to be a good systems administrator. Microsoft offers exam 070-680, which makes you a Technology Specialist (MCTS) on configuring Windows 7. Information on exam 070-686 and the corresponding IT Pro Desktop Administrator (MCITP DA) certification is still meager.
Checking the 14 boxes above will make me ready to deploy Windows 7. I just realized I’m not ready to upgrade all client PCs on my network to Microsoft Windows 7. Are you?