Since Windows 8 is now available, some of our jobs at work is to make plans to replace our Windows client infrastructure. At my employer we’ve already migrated to Windows 8 and this has provided us with a wealth of information, experience and feedback. Some of this information, luckily, I’m able to share with you today in the form of this migration checklist:
A Windows 8 compatible deployment solution
Microsoft offers a couple of solutions to deploy Windows 8. Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2012 with Service Pack 1 will support Windows 8 and Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 Update 1 supports deploying Windows 8, but the first solution is currently still in beta and is due early 2013.
Notable 3rd party solutions like Symantec’s Ghost Solution Suite, Acronis Snap Deploy and SpecOps Deploy are also made ready to be able to deploy and manage Microsoft’s latest and greatest, but don’t as of yet.
A Windows 8 compatible volume activation infrastructure
Windows Server 2012 introduces Active Directory-based Activation.
Alternatively, you can use Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 as Key Management Server (KMS) hosts for their respective inactivated counterparts or reuse existing KMS host platforms (Windows Server 2008, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2), after you install an update.
Windows 8 compatible anti-malware software
Windows Defender in Windows 8 has been extended with anti-malware protection. This capability, however, does not offer centralized management of anti-malware within large environments.
Microsoft adds support for Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 in both System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection Service Pack 1 and Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP) 2010 with Update Rollup 1. This support and any required updates will be available in the same timeframe as System Center 2012 SP1 in early 2013.
A Windows 8 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. Microsoft’s own System Center Data Protection Manager does not support Windows 8 yet, but support is slated for Data Protection Manager 2012 with Service Pack 1
A Windows 8 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 8 support? Windows 8 MOM packs? Probably Service Pack 1.
A Windows 8 compatible management infrastructure
The Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for Windows 8 have been released and can be used to manage Windows Server 2012-based networking infrastructure environments.You can also manage Windows Server 2003 (R2) and Windows Server 2008 (R2) from Windows 8 with the RSAT, but some issues exist and described in Microsoft KnowledgeBase article 2693643. The Remote Desktops App can be used to compensate for the missing Remote Desktops application.
Managing Windows clients by scripts, group policies and group policy preferences also needs attention. The Excel worksheet containing the Windows 8 Group Policy Reference can be found here, together with useful tips on using Group Policy.
A Windows 8 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 centralized software product, that’s capable of metering on Windows 8? Supported, of course…
A Windows 8 compatible application delivery solution
Working with App-V and wanting to migrate to Windows 8? App-V 4.6 with Service Pack 1 and Hotfix 4 will suffice to get your application bubbles on these systems.
Windows 8 compatible applications (and support)
Users with Windows and Office don’t make most companies run. Line of Business (LoB) do. These applications are needed for business purposes most of the time. They’d better be 100% compatible too.
A common mistake in migrating Windows clients is to underestimate LoB software. 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 good solution to check application compatibility is to use the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) from the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK).
A Windows 8 compatible remote connectivity solution
In the past Cisco and Checkpoint weren’t really forthcoming with compatibility between new Windows versions and their VPN appliances. 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 better than legacy VPN solutions…
Windows 8 compatible hardware
Windows 8 offers solutions to common problems. Encrypting disks BitLocker and Hyper-V are two great solutions. The first however requires a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip by default and the latter requires second level address translation. (EPT or NPT) If BitLocker Network Unlock is on your wishlist, be sure to stock hardware with Intel Family 7 processors. If you want to enjoy these solutions you’ll need the hardware and a bit of strategic purchasing goes a long way these days.
Windows-to-Go, the feature in Windows 8 Enterprise to boot from a USB flash drive could be a great solution for your business, but also requires some thought.
Windows 8 compatible and signed drivers
New hardware means new drivers. Especially, when you’re making the change towards 64bit computing, 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 8 End User Training
A reimagined Windows sounds like a great thing. With Windows 8 it is, but your colleagues might take a little while to get use to it and get the most productivity out of the new interface. Good End User Training and readiness materials go a long way.
Windows 8 certification
Of course my boss wants me to be a good systems administrator. Microsoft offers exam 070-687, that counts towards the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows 8 title.
Checking the 14 boxes above will make me ready to deploy Windows 8. I just realized I’m not ready to upgrade all client PCs on my network to Microsoft Windows 8. Are you?
Windows 7 Migration Checklist
New features in AD DS in Windows Server 2012, Part 16: Active Directory-based Activation
Three useful ways to get started with Group Policy in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012
Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 8