Making the decision to move to a new operating system isn’t easy, and return on investment (ROI) typically is an essential element in this decision. Many businesses delay deploying new operating systems for six months to a year while they perform planning, test application compatibility, and develop deployment scenarios. Other businesses elect to perform small initial deployments while they get their plans and procedures in place for the new operating system. Additionally, in many medium and large enterprises, new operating systems often are rolled out to mobile PC users first, as these users typically get the highest benefits from adopting the next-generation operating system, and then to other users within the organization, as these users get the most benefits when there are well-planned migration and upgrade paths in place.
Unfortunately, if your organization is looking purely at return on investment, you might be missing the mark. Microsoft Windows Vista is not just another upgrade—it is the single largest rollout of the Microsoft Windows operating system since Windows 95. Windows Vista is significantly easier to deploy than its predecessors, primarily because one of Microsoft’s key development goals was to make the operating system easier to deploy. A key part of this effort was to streamline the deployment process by making deployment tools easier to use and more versatile. Microsoft took this one step further though by introducing the following features:
Operating system modularization, providing a selective capability to customize Windows Vista, with separate device driver and language components
Single-format answer files for unattended setup with scriptable installation
Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) for managing computer configuration prior to installation
System imaging with single-instance storage and a hardware-independent format
Answering the question of why these enhancements are important and how they help reduce deployment costs and complexity is what this chapter is all about. In addition to discussing the Windows Vista deployment enhancements, this chapter describes upgrading and migrating computers, using the User State Migration Tool Version (USMT) 3.0, and running Windows Easy Transfer.
This book was written using the Windows Vista Beta to provide an early introduction to the operating system. More so than any other area of Windows Vista, the features discussed in this book are subject to change. Some of the features might not be included in the final product, and some of the features might be changed substantially.