Windows 7 Deployment Frequently Asked Questions
If I am on Windows XP and didn’t look at the Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 imaging and
deployment tools over the last couple of years, what should I know about Windows 7 deployment?
If you have not yet looked at Windows Vista Deployment Enhancements
(http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=150418) and imaging, now is a great time to learn about the
enhancements made around file-based, non-destructive imaging using the Windows® Imaging Format (WIM), as
well as other advantages, including Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) independence and language neutrality in
Windows Vista® and Windows 7 images.
Which tools are available to help with my Windows 7 deployment project?
There are a number of pre-deployment and deployment tools to help automate common project-related tasks,
including Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=95460) to
inventory hardware and devices; the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) version 5.5
(http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=150419) to inventory applications, analyze compatibility, and create
compatibility fixes for applications; the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT)
(http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=108442) to assist with image creation as well as automating the
operating system and application installation, data migration, and desktop configuration process; and the Microsoft
System Center (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=150420) family of products for large organizations.
What is different about imaging and image servicing in Windows 7 compared to Windows Vista?
Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) in the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK)
(http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=150421) provides additional functionality for Windows 7– and Windows
Server® 2008 R2–based operating system images. DISM differs from the tools that are offered with Windows Vista
and Windows Server 2008 because DISM can enumerate drivers, packages (including updates), and features in the
image. DISM can also add and remove flat file drivers from a Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 system
image. DISM also consolidates the functions previously found across several tools.
Notably, it can be used to manage Windows Pre-Installation Environment (Windows PE) images; it can manage
international configurations, and it can be used for mounting and unmounting WIM images. Previously, these
functions were spread across PEImg, IntlConfig, and ImageX tools. Finally, DISM contains changes that allow for
backward compatibility with Package Manager (PKGMGR) commands that are used for Windows Vista and Windows
Server 2008 image files to help ensure that existing tools and scripts written for previous versions of the Windows
AIK continue to work. ImageX is still provided with the Windows AIK for system image creation and apply
Where do I find the User State Migration Tool for Windows 7?
Windows AIK for Windows 7 now includes the User State Migration Tool (USMT) 4.0 and new features for hard-link
migration and offline migration can dramatically improve the speed of clean operating system installs and in-place
migration to existing Windows XP and Windows Vista hardware. USMT also improves how documents and settings
are detected and gathered and supports Volume Shadow Copy to migrate files in use. For more information about
the User State Migration Tool, see ―What’s New in the User State Migration Tool‖
(http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=150422) on Microsoft® TechNet.
What is Hard-Link Migration, and how can I migrate user states from one operating system to another?
The User State Migration Tool for Windows 7 now provides a new feature called Hard-Link Migration. This feature
enables your customers to install Windows Vista or Windows 7 on an existing computer and retain data locally on
that computer during operating system installation. Hard-Link Migration works by:
Discovering user files and settings.
Creating hard-links to each file in the system that constitutes the user profile, preferences, application
settings, and documents.
Applying hard-links to the proper file locations in the new operating system.
Although the capability of storing user files locally has been available for some time, the process could take several
hours and files would be double-instanced on the local hard drive and require free disk space to accommodate
them. With hard-links, the files do not move and the index of links can be created and remapped to the new
operating system within a few minutes. The hard-link catalog also consumes very little space on the hard drive
since files are not double-instanced.
Hard-Link Migration can be performed before the operating system installation from within the legacy operating
system. In that case, the index of links is stored in a protected folder while the operating system is installed and
other folders are deleted as part of the install routine. The migration store protects files from deletion. This process
is how the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 Beta (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=108442) performs a
default computer refresh. The second option is to perform a clean install of the operating system and by default the
new operating system will create a ―windows.old‖ folder with user files and settings and retain any legacy folders
found in the root directory. Offline hard-link migration can be used to target files within ―windows.old‖ and map
them to the appropriate locations in the Windows Vista or Windows 7 operating system. This process takes only a
few minutes and the risk for data loss using this solution is minimal. After migration has occurred from
―windows.old‖, the user can use the disk cleanup utility to remove ―windows.old‖, and hard-link migrated files are
protected from deletion.
Are there any changes in the Windows Deployment Services server role in Windows Server 2008 R2?
Windows Deployment Services in Windows Server 2008 R2 enables network deployments of WIM images or Virtual
Hard Disks (VHD) as files used for operating system deployments. The previous release of Windows Deployment
Services (WDS) in Windows Server 2008 included the capability of multicast for image transmission to computers
in the deployment pool. This can reduce network bandwidth consumption and increase deployment capacity by
using a single-image transmission to multiple clients. Instead of one 5-GB image passing to 100 clients and
consuming 500 GB of network bandwidth. The same deployment using multicast can consume as little as 5 to 10
GB of network bandwidth.
One consequence of using multicast in Windows Server 2008 was that the slowest client would determine the
transfer rate for all client machines. In Windows Server 2008 R2, multicast now supports the use of Multiple
Stream Transfer of 2 to 3 speeds to ensure that the fastest clients can receive deployment images faster.
Additionally, using standard multicast (not with Multiple Stream Transfer), you can set minimum transfer
thresholds and automatically remove slow clients from the multicast pool.
Windows Server 2008 R2 with WDS also enables Dynamic Driver Provisioning so that driver files can be stored
centrally and outside the image and only the required drivers are installed at the time of deployment using Plug
and Play device matching. For organizations now including large driver payloads into standard network-installed
images, Dynamic Driver Provisioning may help to reduce image size and ease driver management routines.
Why is upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 not supported?
An ―upgrade‖ from Windows XP to Windows 7 would not be an experience that would yield the best results. There
are many changes in how PCs have been configured (applets, hardware support, driver model, etc.), and the path
to the highest quality is with a clean install. This is something known and practiced by the majority of IT
organizations. The User State Migration Tool provides support for moving files and settings, but applications will
need to be reinstalled. We know that for a set of customers this tradeoff seems less than perfect, but we think the
upfront time is well worth it. For more information about this topic, read the blog Engineering Windows 7:
Delivering a quality upgrade experience (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=150423).
Are there any tools available to help with finding out which applications my users have installed and to
test for application compatibility?
Yes. You can use the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) version 5.5
(http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=150419) to inventory applications and identify known compatibility issues
that are common to both Windows Vista and Windows 7. ACT 5.5 also includes tools to test Web-based applications
and build compatibility fixes (or ―shims‖) for applications where a compatible version is not available or recoding
the application is not an option.
In addition to using ACT 5.5, you can search for applications and devices compatible with Windows Vista at the
Windows Vista Compatibility Center (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=150424). For organizations seeking to
perform a bulk query of an inventoried application list against a known list of Windows Vista compatible
applications, the Windows Vista Application Compatibility Downloadable List for IT Professionals
(http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=150425) is available from the Microsoft Download Center. Both resources
share common data, which is currently specific to Windows Vista; Windows 7–specific compatibility data will begin
to appear in these resources as the data becomes available from software vendors.
For resources and information related to Microsoft's collaboration with service partners to help overcome the all
aspects of application compatibility—from application inventory to application compatibility remediation—see the
Application Compatibility Factory (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=150426) partner program pages on
What specific application compatibility–impacting changes are in Windows 7 compared to Windows
Compatibility between Windows Vista and Windows 7 is very high. There are relatively minor changes to
Windows 7 affecting overall application compatibility compared to Windows Vista. These changes include:
Operating System Version change. The internal version number for Windows 7 and Windows
Server 2008 R2 is 6.1.
Removal of Windows Gallery Applications. Windows 7 deprecates Windows Mail, Messenger, Address
Book, Photo Gallery, and Movie Maker.
National Language Support Sorting Changes. The National Language Support (NLS) functions help
applications support the different language- and locale-specific needs of users around the world. New
Windows versions almost invariably include NLS changes.
Internet Explorer 8 User Agent String. The User Agent String is the Internet Explorer® identifier that
provides data about its version and other attributes to Web servers. Many Web applications rely on, and
piggyback on, the Internet Explorer User Agent String.
Removal of Windows Registry Reflection for 64-bit operating systems. The registry reflection
process copies registry keys and values between two registry views to keep them in sync.
New Low-Level Binaries. To improve engineering efficiencies and improve foundations for future work,
Microsoft has relocated some functionality to new low-level binaries.
File Library Replaces Document Folder. Libraries provide a centralized folder-like experience for file
storage, search, and access across multiple locations, both local and remote.
User Interface - High DPI Awareness. The goal is to encourage end users to set their displays to
native resolution and use DPI rather than screen resolution to change the size of displayed text and
Internet Explorer 8 - Data Execution Protection/NX. Internet Explorer 8 will enable DEP/NX
protection when run on an operating system with the latest service pack.
For detailed information on these changes, see Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Application Quality
Cookbook (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=150429) for Windows 7. If you are running Windows XP and
want more information about changes starting with Windows Vista, see The Windows Vista and Windows
Server 2008 Developer Story: Application Compatibility Cookbook
What about Volume Activation? Will I need a separate infrastructure for Windows 7?
Volume Activation fundamentally works in the same way in Windows 7 as it does with Windows Vista and Windows
Server 2008. You can use Key Management Service (KMS) or Multiple Activation Keys (MAK). The same
infrastructure will be used to activate Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows
Server 2008 R2. Virtual machine activations can be counted against activation thresholds. The Volume Activation
Management Tool (VAMT) is now included in the Windows AIK.
With so many deployment options, how do I know which one is best-suited for my organization?
The variety of operating system deployment options are intended to meet the needs of each customer type. For
consumers and small businesses, manual deployment options include data migration assisted by Windows Easy
Transfer and installation via retail media.
Midsize organizations can benefit from the use of basic elements found in the Windows AIK
(http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=150421), such as using Windows System Image Manager to build
unattend files to automate domain join and configure basic settings, or taking advantage of the new features in the
User State Migration Tool and Hard-Link Migration for in-place migration to existing computers.
Larger midsize organizations to large organizations with a dedicated IT staff or IT service providers can use the
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2008 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=108442) to integrate all core
desktop provisioning and data migration tasks. MDT provides a customizable task sequencing engine to reduce the
user interaction required for installation to a few moments.
We recommend that large organizations with a dedicated IT staff and managed desktops use Microsoft System
Center Configuration Manager 2007 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=150430) and the zero-touch
operating system deployment mechanisms in that product. Zero-touch installation eliminates the need for user
interaction at the deployed computer.
The tools found in the Windows AIK (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=150421) are the backbone for all
operating system deployment tools from Microsoft. MDT and System Center Configuration Manager rely on the
technologies in Windows AIK to create and service images, migrate user state, and perform unattended setup. For
some customers, this also means they can develop their own custom tools using the technologies that are found in
Windows AIK along with image and driver delivery support in Windows Deployment Services.
What is VHD Native Boot?
In the Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate editions and Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems, a VHD can be
used as the running operating system on designated hardware without any other parent operating system, virtual
machine, or hypervisor. Windows 7 disk-management tools, the DiskPart tool, and the Disk Management snap-in in
Microsoft Management Console (Diskmgmt.msc) can be used to create a VHD file. A Windows 7 image (WIM) file
can be applied to the VHD, and the VHD file can be copied to multiple systems. The Windows 7 boot manager can
be configured to boot directly into the VHD. The VHD file can also be connected to a virtual machine for use with
the Hyper-V technology role in Windows Server 2008 R2.
Native-boot VHD files are not designed or intended to replace full image deployment on all client or server systems.
Enterprise environments already managing and using VHD files for virtual machine deployment will get the most
benefit from the native-boot VHD capabilities. Using the VHD file as a common image container format for virtual
machines and designated hardware simplifies image management and deployment in an enterprise environment.
This technology is designed for non-mobile workstations in a highly managed environment and is best used with
technologies such as Folder Redirection and Roaming User Profiles so that the user’s state is not stored in the
image. Although this technology opens up new deployment scenarios, there will not be 100 percent parity in the
end-user experience when deploying the operating system directly on a hard disk or with VHD in Windows 7. For
example, features like BitLocker™ Drive Encryption and hibernation are not supported in this release.
What can I do to take advantage of native VHD boot?
Organizations using Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) can benefit from the image consolidation of Native boot
VHD files for use on physical and virtual clients if they are aware of the physical client constraints, design against
architectural recommendations for user data storage, and are willing to run system preparation specialization on
virtual hosts for every new virtual desktop that is provisioned in the data center or on physical hardware.
How do I create and configure a bootable Windows 7 VHD file?
The simplest way to create bootable Windows 7 VHD file is to use Windows PowerShell™ scripts in conjunction with
WIMGAPI to automate the process of applying WIM files (from Windows 7 optical media for instance) to VHD
containers. For more manual scenarios, organizations can also use ImageX, which is a component of the Windows
AIK (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=150421) to apply a standard reference image to an empty VHD file
created using DiskPart.exe or Diskmgmt.msc. The Boot Manager can then be configured to boot from this VHD file
using the BCDEdit tool. Native-boot VHD image files may be serviced like WIM files using the Deployment Image
Servicing and Management tool (another component of the Windows Automated Installation Kit), and these images
can be deployed using Windows Deployment Services in Windows Server 2008 R2. More information on creating
and configuring bootable Windows 7 VHD files can be found at the Windows 7 VHD Overview
(http://technet.microsoft.com/library/dd440864.aspx) on Microsoft TechNet.
How can the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack tools be used to help with my deployment of
Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V), a component of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), can
minimize time-consuming regression testing and application and operating system compatibility issues. This is
possible because applications are virtualized and not redirected or installed on the client, saving significant time
and effort. Dynamic virtualization lets IT staff control virtual application combinations, consolidate virtual
environments, and simplify and speed administration. Customers can accelerate and centralize the deployment and
management of operating systems and applications, including simplifying the global management of virtual
applications by letting users work in localized environments with localized applications.
Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V), another MDOP product, enhances deployment and
management of Virtual PC images on a Windows Desktop while also providing a seamless user experience between
a Virtual PC environment independent of the local desktop configuration and operating system. Application-to-
operating system compatibility issues can be avoided by providing an integrated and virtual legacy operating
system environment to allow incompatible applications to run while they are being updated or fixed to run natively
in Windows Vista or Windows 7. This provides more flexibility for application mitigation and helps accelerate
deployment. Delivery and reconstitution of corporate desktops are made easy, simplifying support tasks, business
continuity, and incorporation of heterogeneous IT environments.
Currently MED-V is supported on Windows Vista and Windows XP. The goal is to support MED-V and
other MDOP components on Windows 7. The target window for support of all MDOP technologies is
within three to six months of Windows 7 RTM.