There's more than one way to migrate to Windows 7

Microsoft is working on a new physical-to-virtual (P2V) tool for helping customers move legacy applications to Windows 7 using virtualization technology.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is working on a new physical-to-virtual (P2V) tool for helping customers move legacy applications to Windows 7 using virtualization technology.

The latest migration tool in Microsoft's arsenal -- "P2V Migration for Software Assurance" -- is a combination of the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) and the company's Sysinternals Disk2 VHD product. Microsoft is currently beta testing the migration toolkit offering.

The P2V bundle converts customers' existing Windows XP Service Pack (SP) 3 or Vista client environments to a virtual hard disk and then automates the delivery of a personalized Windows 7 containing a virtual machine with the previous Windows environment, apps and browser. The virtual desktop retains the management components, including domain membership and management policies, and makes availble users' legacy settings via the Windows 7 start menu.

The "Software Assurance" part of the puzzle is a way for Microsoft to attempt to hide its licensing complexities from the user. Microsoft isn't trying to "gate" the new tool so it is only available to its volume licensees who have signed Software Assurance annuity deals, according to a September 9 post to the company's Springboard blog. Because the bundle involves transferring the install from one PC to another, Microsoft ran into its own rule that OEM-installed copies of Windows cannot be P2V'd. Software Assurance includes licensing policies around volume activation that do allow this scenario, however.

Microsoft execs demonstrated the P2V migration tool at the company's internal TechReady conference in July. The first public presentation on the toolkit will be at the TechEd EMEA conference in Berlin in November, according to company officials.

The current P2V Migration beta, which Microsoft made available on its Connect site in early September, includes support for "Refresh and Replace" scenarios without relying on System Center Configuration Manager. But another beta release "with Configuration Manager documented/working and better international support is coming in the coming days," according to the Springboard blog post.

The P2V Migration tool isn't for everyone, the Softies acknowledge. From the Springboard post:

"The best way to deliver a standardized local Virtual PC environment to many users is to use Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization. It enables provisioning and management of much lighter weight VMs, lets you manage how links are published to applications from the VM, redirect URLs to the VM’s browser and back, start the VM when the user logs into the physical machine, etc. It also requires that you know about and manage the applications going into the VMs. Where P2V Migration comes in is where you don’t have the source media, don’t want to include rarely required apps into a standard VM (all this applies to Internet Explorer customization as well). For that handful of users with highly-specialized and otherwise deployment-blocking PCs, you can target them for P2V Migration."

Anyone out there have apps/scenarios where you could see P2V convincing you to upgrade from an older version of Windows to 7?

Editorial standards