Ease the migration to Windows 7

It's time for Windows 7. While there is no silver bullet or secret sauce in upgrading an enterprise, there are clear and straightforward steps for a positive experience in migrating, say Fiberlink's Chuck Brown.
Written by Chuck Brown, Fiberlink, Contributor on

Commentary - Met with widespread acceptance in both the retail and enterprise sectors, Microsoft’s Windows 7 has sold more than 150 million copies so far. These sales have surpassed Vista, making Windows 7 the fastest selling operating system in history with seven copies of Windows 7 sold every second. Some analysts are predicting that its acceptance will exceed that of Windows XP, but the majority of enterprises are still on the sidelines developing their plans for migration.

With a number of new features, the move to Windows 7 will require IT administrators to check each computer to see if they need additional RAM or other upgrades to accommodate the new OS. It can be a difficult and time consuming project that requires extensive planning and budgeting.

Now, IT executives are working to figure out how to effectively migrate their machines from XP to Windows 7. While there is no silver bullet or secret sauce in upgrading an enterprise, there are clear and straightforward steps for a positive experience in migrating to Windows 7.

1. Identification: Determine the operating system currently on each machine in the enterprise. The most efficient way is to install an agent on the endpoints and have them automatically identify and report back the entire hardware and software inventory. Otherwise, a free online app can evaluate each machine, one at a time.

2. Audit and reporting: After the endpoints have sent back information on hardware and software inventory, develop a report on that can be reviewed and analyzed. A free online app can evaluate each machine for you. Review the report and determine which machines are Windows 7 ready and which will require upgrade or replacement.

3. Budget for upgrades: On a machine-by-machine basis, review the report and determine the cost of additional RAM or the expense of replacement. You can use a free cost estimator application to streamline the process and answer “what if” questions. Creating an accurate budget in advance is a key step to an effective Windows 7 migration plan that minimizes waste and keeps CIOs and CFOs in synch.

4. Data backup: This is one of the more important items in planning and execution. The data on each machine needs to be carefully archived. The best practice is to install a backup and recovery service on each of the machines being upgraded or refreshed. If some users will be moving to new machines, this becomes even more important, as they will need the old files placed on their new machine.

5. Refreshing the image: This step can be accomplished in many ways, from a manual installation of the OS from the Windows 7 DVD to the use of an imaging service. No matter which option is chosen, the best practice should be to include backup & recovery and hardware/software inventory agent in the image to be installed. This will make life easier, saving both time and resources and helping to provide a better user experience during this invasive procedure.

6. Data recovery: Since the backup & recovery agent has been included in the image, now start the process of recovering the individual’s specific data that they need in order to be productive. The data recovered will bring the end user a sense of ownership, satisfaction and a WOW factor of “That was easy!”

7. Software Distribution: Distribute and install, hopefully in an automated fashion, any software that was not included in the base image install. The sooner this step is completed, the quicker end users will be productive.

8. Audit verification: After a brief period of time, update the hardware and software inventory reports. Spend some time comparing the pre-upgrade report against the post-upgrade report. If software is missing, go back to step 6 and revisit the situation. This reconciliation process will provide a firm understanding on the disposition of the upgrade, ensuring that the process was successful and all-inclusive.

Microsoft discontinued support for Windows XP SP2 on July 13th, and enterprises are working quickly to develop their Windows 7 migration strategies. Follow the steps above to a cost and time efficient migration.

Chuck Brown is a product manager with Fiberlink, the provider of cloud-based Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) solutions.

Editorial standards