Latecomer's guide to deploying Windows 7

As businesses finally get serious about migrating from Windows XP, an expert shares what works in the real world

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With the inventory in place, you can assess your Windows 7 readiness. (Windows 8 readiness, Office 2010 readiness, and Internet Explorer Discovery are other reports you may want to run at other times.) Click the Inventory and Assessment option in MAP's Action pane, then open the Assessment Properties dialog box. In that dialog box, set your readiness criteria, such as CPU speed and RAM amount, or use Microsoft's default options. Click the Run Assessment button to get the results of which PCs meet your Windows 7 readiness criteria. The reports are shown on screen and saved in your Documents/MAP folder as an Excel spreadsheet.

The MAP readiness report
The MAP readiness report

Microsoft has detailed instructions on using MAP.

Step 2: Assess your applications' compatibility with Windows 7

Microsoft also has a free tool to help you validate your applications' compatibility with Windows 7. Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) tracks applications you have tested and their level of compatibility. It can provide compatibility information for applications, devices, Windows updates, User Account Control (UAC)-related issues, and Web applications with new versions of Internet Explorer.

You need a SQL server to run ACT, as it uses SQL databases for its compatibility data. After you create the ACT database, you next install client agents to gather the application inventory information.

To do so, create a deployment package by double-clicking the Collect option. In the Details pane that appears, give the collection a name and select the type of compatibility you want to evaluate: OS or Windows Update. Click the Advanced button if you want to select UAC and Windows Compatibility. UAC detects applications trying to run as a standard user (not as an admin), whereas Windows Compatibility detects issues related to Session 0, Gina, and components that have been deprecated but are still used in applications. Specify when you want the ACT client agent to begin monitoring the client, how long it should monitor, how often the data should be uploaded to the SQL database, and where to output collected data.

The Microsoft Application Compatibility Manager
The Microsoft Application Compatibility Manager

To actually deploy the collection package, you can use group policy objects, Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 (MDT) or System Center Configuration Manager (2007 or 2012), or you can simply email the package to your users -- it's a small .msi file. On the client PCs, users should double-click the .msi file to run it.

The ACT database will list all applications found. It's up to you to do the testing to ensure they work appropriately in Windows 7 (as compatibility is about more than binary compatibility), and the ACT database has various fields for you to use to track your progress. Normally, evaluating applications takes a few months, so be sure to set aside enough time to do a thorough job.

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