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Windows Vista installation dos and don'ts

Windows Vista installations are still lagging in the enterprise, making now a good time to identify best practices (and worst practices) for inevitable Windows Vista installations.

Windows Vista is available for the few early adopters who can't wait to use the new Microsoft operating system in the enterprise. But it's now up to you as a channel professional to quell the hype and identify exactly how to install and deploy Windows Vista for your clients. In this tip I'll provide some sage advice on how to make the physical upgrade to Windows Vista as painless as possible.


  • Don't run an upgrade installation: Seriously, just don't even consider this. Although, on the face of it, an upgrade might seem like the best way to ensure your customer's system remains intact, upgrades can retain problems as well as files and folders. A far better way of making sure the system feels "fresh and clean" when you move to Vista is to back up old data onto removable media and then import it into Vista later. This way you remove the old operating system and start with a pristine installation. If you are moving from Windows XP, consider using
    the File and Settings Transfer Wizard available by clicking Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and File and Settings Transfer Wizard. Once Vista is up and running, you can import these files and settings using Vista's new version of this feature called Windows Easy Transfer, which you can navigate to by clicking Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and finally Windows Easy Transfer.

  • Don't install multiple machines by hand: A major design factor for Vista was to make the operating system much easier than its predecessors to perform unattended installations and mass deployments. These two important characteristics of Vista will undoubtedly help you deploy Vista in both small and large companies, across different user communities and countries (using the componentized language packs) and help cut down the cost of deployments, since a lot less can go wrong. You can create unattended answer files using Windows System Image Manager, customize deployment environments with the Windows Pre-Installation Environment (WinPE), use SysPrep to image a current system and "generalize" it, and perform the actual imaging of a Vista system using ImageX, all while being hardware independent. Save yourself some time and effort and keep things simple by investigating unattended installation options.

  • Do research tools to speed enterprise deployments: If you're consulting with a business on how to
    Explaining "lite touch"
    "Lite-touch" is as close as Microsoft technology has come to the holy grail of system deployment known as "zero touch." Lite-touch is effectively a complete installation of the operating system and business applications with the absolute minimum of user or administrator input. This is achieved through scripting, XML answer files and the new .wim Vista imaging system.
    deploy Windows Vista in the enterprise, you shouldn't miss this: For the true enterprise-scale business, Microsoft has developed the Microsoft Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment (BDD), which came about as a result of the increasing complexity of rolling out large-scale operating system deployments with their associated applications. The BDD complements WAIK by providing a further multitude of tools and guidelines for creating a truly lite-touch deployment. BDD delivers an integrated deployment tool that helps you work with all the associated deployment facilities, such as ImageX, Windows SIM and WinPE. This deployment tool is known simply as the BDDWorkbench, downloadable from, and as a prerequisite, you'll need to install the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) before BDDWorkbench will run.

    For more information on these tools, visit the following locations:

    About the author: Jonathan Hassell is an author, consultant and speaker residing in Charlotte, North Carolina. Jonathan's books include RADIUS, Learning Windows Server 2003, Hardening Windows and most recently Windows Vista: Beyond the Manual. His work is seen regularly in popular periodicals such as Windows IT Pro Magazine, SecurityFocus, PC Pro and Microsoft TechNet Magazine. He speaks around the world on topics including Windows administration, networking and security.

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