Free tools to help you deploy Windows
Speaking of Microsoft's ACT, it's important for IT admins to catch up on the new tools used to deploy Windows 7 and 8. Back in the day, we used imaging tools like Ghost (remember that?), which was awesome in 2001. This is no longer the modern method for imaging systems and deploying Windows. You need to start looking at the free tools Microsoft provides, like the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT). All of these tools can be found under the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK). The kit also includes:
- Microsoft ACT, which polls all your systems to determine which apps will work on which machines; it even tells you what will work and what is supported, which may not be the same, as well as when you can use a shim (a mini fake fix to make applications work)
- Deployment tools like Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM), System Preparation, SysPrep, and Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE)
- Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE)
- User State Migration Tool (USMT)
- Volume Activation Management Tool
- Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT)
The tools take some time to learn, but they are free. Once you master them, you'll truly appreciate how far we've come from the days of Ghost deployments.
Jump, don't be pushed, toward Windows 7 or 8
If you've ever watched "Wipeout," you know that if a contestant doesn't jump across the large rubber balls (aka Big Balls, with good reason) they get pushed. It's always better to jump than to be pushed, both when it comes to competing in "Wipeout" and supporting Windows systems. Folks, this is happening. XP is a dead OS walking. It takes quite a bit of time to plan and deploy a new client system, and you are already in the "death zone," to coin a phrase from my dear friend Scott Skinger (founder of TrainSignal).
Personally, I think users are better prepared to handle the move to Windows 7 than to Windows 8. The UI adjustments for Windows 8 will frustrate the masses, as it already has, so allow your users to ease into the new UI on their own time with home systems, laptops, tablets they purchased. If they buy it, the frustration is on their head. If you install it for them at work, all that rage will come back on your head. Windows 7 is a no-brainer. It has the same UI as XP (with an orb as opposed to a button for the Start menu), same navigation, plenty of new bells and whistles, lots of security built-in, and a great OS all around.
But don't hold off your plans waiting for Windows 9. You've already run out of time, and the countdown has begun.
This story, "It's time to loosen your cold, dead grip on Windows XP," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.