Your next logical step is to determine which versions of Windows 7 you will need for your deployment. Keep in mind that the edition you choose may not have the features you thought it did. For example, if you want BitLocker encryption on the system, perhaps for your laptop deployments, the Professional Edition isn't going to work for you; you need either the Enterprise Edition (which requires a volume license) or the Ultimate Edition. The same holds true for working with DirectAccess (VPN-less access for mobile users) and BranchCache; both require the Ultimate or Enterprise editions. These two editions also offer the Windows 7 UI in 35 languages in a single OS image for global deployment. But one advanced feature -- Windows XP Mode (aka XPM), for running XP in a virtual machine -- is available in the Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions.
In addition, the Enterprise Edition supports federated search across remote repositories, AppLocker policy-based management of user apps, and multiple-monitor and microphone support in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments.
The Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP)
Addressing hardware and software compatibility issues
Before you begin rolling out Windows 7, be sure to deploy it in a smaller environment to test your systems. That way you can identify if your PCs have any issues with their hardware or software. You can try running Microsoft's Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor utility (currently in beta). You can also quickly test PCs' support for Windows 7 using InfoWorld's free Windows Sentinel tool. However, if you need a more serious tool for your organization, go with the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP) 4.0, shown at right. MAP provides an agentless scan of your systems to inventory your system hardware, checks for compatibility, and reports where you stand.
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If you have legacy 16-bit applications, note that they will not run in the 64-bit version of Windows 7. You can run them in the new XP Mode virtual machine that comes with the Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise versions of Windows 7, or natively in the 32-bit version of Windows 7. XP Mode is useful not only for running 16-bit apps but for any programs that require legacy application compatibility.