Do you ensure you have a computer with the
recommended specifications before upgrading to Windows 7?
Windows 7 is about 27% faster than Windows
Vista. It is essential for PCs, which are being upgraded to Windows 7,
to meet the minimum recommended specifications. You can install
Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor Beta
to check if your system is ready to install Windows 7.
- Figure: Results from Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor Beta
Do you know whether to upgrade or reformat?
When you're installing a new OS on your PC it's always a dilemma as to whether to
go the whole hog and reformat your hard drive or take the upgrade path into the
new system. Upgrading is nice because there is no need to install all your programs
again. The problem is all the old junk stays around.
At SSW always go for a fresh start. We've already found a number of programs will not work in
Windows 7. Besides, a nice, clean C: drive to go
with your new, nice, clean operating system is always a big plus. Just be sure to
follow your organization's backup standards carefully!
Note: For individuals looking to upgrade to Windows Windows 7, the upgrade
process is exactly the same as that for Windows Vista.
Note: If you intend to follow an automated deployment
then you will be forced to reformat.
Do you know the best way to deploy Windows 7 across
With Windows XP we commonly see situations where a system rebuild takes a day or
more. With Windows 7 we have got that down to 45 minutes.
Windows 7 has deployment tools which you can download, which make it significantly
easier for organizations ranging from small to large sizes to migrate to Windows
Here are you deployment choices:
- Individuals - Standard Installation using Windows 7 CD (not recommended as you
then need to install all your programs)
- Small Organizations (less than 100 computers) - Business Desktop Deployment 2007
- Small Organizations (less than 100 computers) - Windows Automated Installation Kit
- Large Organizations (100 computers or more) - Windows Deployment Services (WDS)
At SSW, we use option 3, which means that you need the new deployment tool which
utilizes Image Based Setups (IBS). When you use IBS you install all the programs
you you create a large .WIM file. Once the custom image is created you deployed
individually to each PC as detailed below:
Note, for option 4, you use the same IBS method described for creation of your image.
Windows Deployment Services is the equivalent of Remote Installation Services on
Windows Server 2003. For this deployment process, a dedicated server is required.
In order to use IBS you will need to:
- Step 1: Create a CD with the tools needed to deploy the Image
- Step 2: Creating a custom image of a Windows 7 Installation
- Step 3: Get your new PC and Deploy this custom image
Step 1: Create a CD with the tools needed to deploy the Image
- Figure: This is for Windows 7 image developer to follow
every time he creates a new version of Windows 7 image.
PS: You may skip Step 1 because the CD labeled WIN PE and Image X is kept in n the SSW Sydney boardroom.
Note: Use the CD labelled WIN PE and Image X x64 bit for building Windows 7 x64-bit image.
- Install Windows Automated Installation Kit
- Open Command Prompt and change from the current location to the PETools directory.
Type CD C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools
- Copy the PE Tools into a directory on your C: drive.
Type Copype.cmd [arch] [destination]
Where arch is the arhitecture of the computer on which Windows 7 is being deployed,
either x86, amd64 or ia64 and destination is the path to the local directory, for
Copype.cmd x86 C:\WinPE_x86
- Copy ImageX into the same folder.
Type copy "C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\x86\imagex.exe" C:\WinPE_x86\iso
- Using Notepad, create a configuration file with the following text and save it as
"System Volume Information"
Save the configuration file to the same location as the ImageX:
- Create an image file (.iso) of the folder you just created.
Type cd C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools
Oscdimg -n -bc:\winpe_x86\etfsboot.com c:\winpe_x86\iso c:\winpe_x86\winpe_x86.iso
- Burn tthe image onto a blank CD ROM.
Step 2: Creating a custom image of a Windows 7 Installation
Warning: If you're using a
VPC or VMWare then it is best to create a "Clone" before you generialize so that
you can revert back to it after the image has been created.
Now that we have all the tools on a CD, we now need Windows 7 and all the programs.
- Using a master computer, install Windows 7.
- Install all your applications.
Figure: Inside your image, make sure you keep track of all the installed applications
(along with whom added them, and when). We keep a word document on the desktop.
- It will be much easier for user to know the version of the Windows 7 Image installed
in their machines if you put the versioning information in a text file, for example:
NOTE: When you build the image you need to update C:\_Windows7ImageVersion.txt.
Figure: Windows 7 Image Versioning File Image Versioning File
- Prepare the computer for imaging by running the Sysprep tools and cleaning up User
In Command Prompt, type C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep\Sysprep.exe /oobe /generalize
- Caution: Do not forget to execute the above command
before capturing the image. Not performing the above step may cause Boot Failure error message when you try to boot the installed image on your
- Note: You can only generalize your installation 3 times. After that you'll
received an error when trying to generalize the installation.
- Boot up from the Windows PE CD that you created previously.
- Figure: This
is what it looks like the first time you boot off the CD C it is the Windows Pre-Installation
Environment 2.0 - now you capture the image
- In the command prompt, capture the image.
Type D:\ImageX.exe /capture C: C:\MyImage.wim "My Windows 7 Install" /verify
(Where MyImage.wim is the image name, you can give any name
- Option A (Not Recommended):
Copy the image to a network location. (Note: This will not work in VMWare
as the network drivers aren't supported without VMWare Tools, instead boot up the
Windows 7 install and copy the image to the network drive from within Windows 7)
Type: net use \\[network share]
Where network_share is the location to which the Image will be saved on the network.
Type your username and password
Type copy C:\MyImage.wim \\[network_share]
Now the image is on the network and all the guys can get their Windows 7 image from
Warning: It may take 8 to 10 hours
to copy the file to network location. Instead try copying the file to any
Option B (Recommended):
Note: If you are building the image on a virtual machine, then
Step 3: Get your new PC and deploy this custom image
- Figure: This is for Windows 7 image user to follow.
- On the PC, to which the Image is to be deployed, back up all your
- Boot up using the Windows PE CD you created previously.
- Format the hard drive and create partitions by typing these commands
select disk 0
create partition primary size=<size of hard disk> (For example
'create partition primary size=20000' where 20000 equals 20 GB.
select partition 1
format (format quick)
- Option A (Not Recommended):
Copy the image from the network share onto the local hard drive.
Type net use \\<network share>
Type your username and password
Type copy \\<network share> C:
Warning: It may take 8 to 10 hours to copy the file to network location. Instead try copying the file to any external drive.
Option B (Recommended): If you have followed the recommended steps to copy the .wim file to external hard drive, then type the following command to apply the image to your local hard drive:
Apply the image to the C: drive.
Type D:\ImageX.exe /apply X:\Myimage.wim 1 C:
(Where X = External hard drive).
- Reboot once the above process is complete.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.
- Run Windows Update to get all necessary drivers and software updates.
You are now ready to work ( it has taken about 45 mins)
Do you run all your incompatible applications in
a Virtual PC?
When upgrading to Windows 7, you will find that many of your important applications
may not install or give errors.
a smooth migration process, your image will include a shortcut on the desktop
to a Virtual PC so you can continue with all of these incompatible applications.
Figure: Run incompatible applications in Virtual PC
Tip: VPCs are a bit slow, so you will want your VPC to be as fast as possible so
please see Rules to Better Virtual PC's
for an extensive guide to creating an efficient development environment.
Do you use default gateway on remote network?
VPN is a wonderful tool for users to remotely control the other PCs via network.
If we control the PC located in Sydney and use default gateway on remote network,
some of the bandwidth in Sydney will be occupied by us. In order to avoid that,
we need to configure the VPN as following:
Figure: Uncheck "Use default gateway on remote network".
Furthermore, the Microsoft Firewall Client for ISA Server, which connects with the
remote server, will be disabled as well.
After that we can detect our settings by accessing
http://www.dnsstuff.com/tools/aboutyou.ch. The result will show Your IP,
Your country and Proxy Server etc.
Do you make sure all non essential services are set to manual
The windows 7 image will work fast, even on slow PCs. So only have a service running
if people use it the majority of the time
Figure: See the ‘Start Mode’ are all set to Manual.
Do you use custom images for your Windows 7 background rotator?
Having the same background is boring. Enliven your PC by having a rotating
series of background images (using the Windows 7 background rotator). For
example at SSW we include images of the guys having fun, SSW products and past
Follow the instructions mentioned below to change your desktop background:
Attention: SSW Developers
SSW background images are stored at:
SSW's background images
- Select the images for your background rotator
- Save them at %userprofile%\Pictures
- Click Control Panel | “Appearance and Personalization” | Under ‘personalization’ option | Click “Change Background Image”
- Browse to %userprofile%\Pictures (For e.g., C:\syeddilawer\pictures\SSWBackgroundImages) | click Ok.
- If all images are not selected, then click ‘Select All’ option to select the images.
- Under ‘Picture position’ option, select ‘Fill’ | Under ‘Change picture entry’ option, select any time limit you like.
- Click 'Save changes'
Figure: See the ‘SSW background images’ are used for Windows 7
Do you check out built-in samples for Reporting Services?
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and 2008 comes with great sample reports. However they are not installed by default,
for more information please see Rules to SQL Reporting Services.
Also see our knowledge base article:
How do I install SQL Server 2005 with the Adventure Works Samples?
Do you have a recommended file structure for storing
Using a standard file a structure for storing user data on laptops makes locating
important information fast and performing automated backup operations easy.
Our developers always have:
D:\DataExchange - For storing the MS Outlook .OST file. This folder is deliberately separate so it is not backed up. (the Exchange server itself is backed up regularly)
D:\DataFirstnameLastname - For storing all user data. This folder is automatically backed up.
Do you use the "Boot to VHD" feature of Windows 7?
Windows 7 introduced a nice feature called "Boot to VHD". This feature allows you to natively boot into a VPC image.
This has a couple of advantages:
- Usage of Aero styles
- Bare metal performance
- 64 bit support
Do you start from scratch when creating a "boot to VHD" image?
When you consider to use the boot to VHD feature, try to install a new VPC image from scratch.
All your hardware is direct accessed and not anymore virtualized when you boot into the VHD image, only the HD is virtualized.
So it is better to start installing a new VPC image from scratch so that all your drivers are up to date and use the full power of your machine.
See our rules Do you use an operational base when creating VPC images?