Points to Consider While Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7

In this article, Scott Drucker and Jeff Woeber speak on the important points which are to be considered while moving from Windows XP  to Windows 7. Continuing this article, They will also be writing a Step by Step process to do a Windows 7 Migration using WinINSTALL.

According to Microsoft’s Technet Website, “there is no Upgrade option available when installing Windows 7 on a computer running Windows XP. The task involves using Windows Easy Transfer to migrate files and settings from Windows XP to Windows 7 on the same computer. To do this you must first copy files to a removable media, such as an external hard drive or UFD, or to a network share. Then, you will install a fresh copy of Windows 7 on your existing hardware and then migrate your files back from the removable media or network location, onto your computer. When you are finished, you must install your software programs again, but your files and settings will have been copied from Windows XP.

windows-7-logoSince this is can end up being a multi-step process involving many trips to the desktop,  Scalable Software can offer you an alternative solution to performing your upgrades with a zero-touch process in mind.

Combining both Scalable Software’s Survey product and WinINSTALL Desktop Availability Suite, you will be able to determine first, what machines meet the minimum requirements for Windows 7 and then be able to target those machines for your Windows 7 Migration using WinINSTALL‘s zero-touch process.

Section A-Determine what machines meet windows 7 hardware requirements

Deploying a new operating system, such as Windows 7, is a balancing act. On one side of the scale are the functional benefits of the new system. On the other side are the time, cost, and effort of deployment; the inevitable compatibility issues; the ambiguous and error-prone deployment processes; and the lack of well-integrated, single-solution management tools. The deployment effort seems even more daunting when you consider these facts:

  • The majority of today’s business PCs do not support Windows 7’s minimum hardware requirements, which means they will need to be upgraded or completely replaced.
  • Upgrading an existing PC with increased memory or video capabilities involves a costly hands-on hardware upgrade process.
  • Hardware upgrades typically cost more than acquiring and deploying a completely new PC, so migrating to Windows 7 will most likely require purchasing and deploying new PC hardware.

It’s important to know which hardware assets currently deployed meet the recommended hardware requirements and what will it take to upgrade machines that do not meet the requirements.  Using an asset management tool such as Scalable Survey or WinINSTALL to determine what machines do not meet the requirements for Windows 7

Windows 7 recommended hardware requirements

*Windows XP Mode requires an additional 1 GB of RAM, an additional 15 GB of available hard disk space

32-bit 64-bit
Proc Speed 1 Ghz processor 1 Ghz processor
Memory (RAM) 1 GB of Ram 2 GB of RAM
Graphics Card Support DirectX 9 with 128 MB Support DirectX 9 with 128 MB
HDD free space 16 GB free space 16 GB of free spaced
Optical Drive DVD DVD

Below is an example of the Scalable’s Survey Migration Planning report for machines that do not meet the Windows 7 recommended requirements.  It’s important to know what machines meet the requirements.  It’s just as important to know what machines do not meet the recommended requirements and why. Using the below report an administrator can determine what machines can be upgraded and what machines should be replaced.


Section B-Targeting Windows XP workstations for Upgrade to Windows 7

So now that we know which machines are eligible for an upgrade to Windows 7, we can leverage WinINSTALL to target these machines into a single Search Group.  The benefit here, is that you can search for all Workstations that have Windows XP installed on them and then cross reference those machines with your list generated from Survey.

As you can see from the screenshot below, I have targeted workstations that have Windows XP Operating System installed on them.  From this list, I can use my Survey Migration Planning report to eliminate machines that I do not want to Upgrade.


Section C-Determine a Windows 7 Deployment method

As you begin planning for a migration of this size, a cost effective implementation plan aimed at minimizing the labor required to deploy Windows 7, is always the end goal.  OS deployment tools such as Scalable Software’s WinINSTALL can be used for a Zero touch Windows 7 roll out.  WinINSTALL uses PXE to start an automated install of Windows 7.  WinINSTALL has the ability to implement custom Windows Imaging Format (WIM) along with Pre/Post processes such as hard drive preparation and all application distributions that need to be preformed.  WinINSTALL PXE OS Deployment is hardware independent.  All needed Plug and Play drivers can simply be added to the PXE server, where they are stored in a repository for distribution during the installation process.  The clients will only install drivers for its specific hardware loadset.  No post-install process or Sysprep is required.  Once a client has finished the WinINSTALL deployment, it will have the operating system, correct name, AD account, OU Membership, and SID.

PXE Client Reset templates can be created to customize installs for different:

  • Active Directory OU placement
  • Customized Application Load set
  • PC Profile and Application Setting Restoration
  • Post-Installation Utilities including running .bat files, scripts, or custom setup routines
  • Customizable DOD Level drive wiping options, including up to 32 write counts per hard drive
  • Support for optimizing screen resolution, refresh rate, and color depth
  • Support for both Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit Operating System Installations
  • Support for setting local Administrators password, as well as adding local and domain accounts to workstation
  • WinINSTALL Agent deployment integration

Additionally, you will be able to implement default settings for:

  • Windows Sidebar
  • User Account Control (UAC)
  • Windows Defender and Firewall
  • Configuration and change control for new devices

Below is a chart showing how the PXE server, PXE Template, and PXE clients are connected:


If you are using a disk imaging solution (such as Norton Ghost™) to manage anything beyond operating system distribution, you probably will not realize true automated software distribution, patch management, or PC disaster recovery.  In fact, you may end up managing images instead of PCs.  Disk imaging software is frequently misused for software distribution, data backup, and patch management—tasks that it was not designed to perform.

Section D-Applications

IT administrators need to find out how currently deployed, homegrown, and packaged applications will run on Windows 7. In other words, will they behave correctly and adhere to Windows 7’s new security and rights management configurations? To gather this information, IT Administrators will have to communicate with ISVs and other application providers to understand how their Windows 7 support plans impact the migration cycle.

Windows XP mode (XPM) can be used as an option for applications that where not designed and do not function on Windows 7.  Windows XP Mode is a virtual machine package for Windows Virtual PC containing a pre-installed, licensed copy of Windows XP SP3 as its guest OS. Pre-installed integration components allow applications running within the virtualized environment to appear as if running directly on the host

Application packaging and deployment should be considered separate from OS deployment for an efficient Windows 7 Migration strategy.  This allows applications to be updated or replaced easily without changing the OS deployment method.  According to Gartner, in 2007 fewer than half of the average company’s applications will be MSI-packaged or automated distribution (Gartner, Managing PCs from Start to Finish, September 2006).  This leaves the task of application packaging up to the IT Administrator.  Using a reputable tool such as WinINSTALL can help you avoid packaging pitfalls. As IT costs rise and resources shrink, following best practices approaches like those listed here can help you streamline IT processes, increase desktop availability, and effectively manage the PC lifecycle.

Once it is determined what application can run natively in Windows 7 and what applications will need to be run in XPM, a labor efficient deployment method will be needed.  This is an area where a well-defined Windows 7 Migration strategy will greatly benefit the IT administrator.  Using a product such as “Scalable Software’s WinINSTALL Desktop Availability Suite, application deployment can be integrated into the Zero touch WinINSTALL 7 deployment.  WinINSTALL provides easy ways to package and edit applications so they can be deployed along with a new OS or to existing machines on a network.


Section E-Personality and User data

Personality and user data can not be overlooked.  In order to keep productivity maximized it is important to consider the end user experience.  Being able to migrate the Personality and User data to Windows 7, will provide your end users with the familiar and comfortable feel that they have become accustomed to in their working environment. This functionality will help to minimize any learning curves and allow the end user to stay as productive as possible.   Tools such as Scalable Software’s WinINSTALL Personality Transfer, can not only migrate an application’s persistent settings, but also migrate their user documents.


Section F-Putting all of the tools together

Once the IT administrator has determined what machines can be migrated to Windows 7, a procedure can be created.  A zero touch procedure should include:

  • Backup PC Personality and user data, including Application Persistent Settings
  • Prepare hard drives by performing DoD Level Wipes of the hard drives,  and creating new partitions
  • Deploy pre-configured Windows 7 WIM Image
  • Create AD Computer account; and join the computer to AD Domain, as well as an OU
  • Enable Remote Desktop connection
  • Turn On/Off features such as Windows Sidebar, Windows Defender, and User Account Control (UAC)
  • Enable/Disable the Windows Firewall and configure for custom Port Exclusions
  • Se the local Administrator Password and add new local or domain accounts to the workstation
  • Deploy the WinINSTALL
  • Deploy customized application loadset
  • Restore Personality and user data

Where possible a “Windows 7 Pilot group” is recommended.  Define a test group of key personal in the organization.  Use the complete migration process on this test group and allow them use the new Windows 7 loadset for a time period.  This will provide feedback and allow an IT Administrator to make adjustments in a controlled environment before rolling out Windows 7 Company wide.


  1. Very useful article for IT support staff. I will give a try on this and post here if any difficulties or my experience.

    Vivekananda M

  2. Sure Vivek, In coming week, there will be another article from Scott, on Step by Step instructions for Windows 7 Migration using WinINSTALL. Keep watching..

  3. Nearly zero labour required for installing win7, this is what makes it more interesting. Very soon Windows7 will be running on all the systems!!!

  4. Download details: Automated Installation To Upgrade Windows 7 Step-by-Step Guide:

    Download details: Upgrading to Windows 7 for Small and Midsize Businesses:
    Download details: Automated Installation To Upgrade Windows 7 Step-by-Step Guide:
    Download details: Manual Installation of Windows 7 Overview:
    Download details: Upgrading to Windows 7 with a Standard Image Overview:

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