At the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 - Deployment made easy event
Well as you may have read, myself and Soulfish braved the early start (well I did at 4am!) to attend the Microsoft Deployment Made Easy event at Shepherds Bush in London, which was part of the UK Tech Days Events that Microsoft ran over a one week period in London.
I must say it was a very worthwhile day, and although we both have ended up crippled from various injuries that the Cinema caused to us (the seats gave us both bad backs and Soulfish had a little incident as well during the day), despite those it was a very good day. Unfortunately James OíNeill who Iíve seen present a few times before was unwell meaning that Richard Smith (Blog: - http://blogs.technet.com/deploymentguys/ ) very kindly stepped in and covered all of his slots and did so with some very good PowerPoints, audience interaction and pre-recorded screen casts. The morning kicked off with Planning and Preparing for your deployment, something which I know many members are thinking about, if not already dipping toes in the water, of Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2. They covered all angles for deploying both Desktop and Server, showing how things have changed from Vista & 2008 Deployment to 7 & 2008 R2 Deployment.
There are some new tools for doing so, which in some cases are only available for use on Server 2008 R2 (which is to be expected as 2008 R2 is the equivalent of Windows 7 but in Server form) and some will port backwards to Server 2003 and 2008. They covered WDS, MDT & SCCM all for deploying the operating system, including the DISM, WAIK, WinPE and many other acronym-ed Microsoft products (the acronyms I cannot remember!) but all related to the deployment of the latest and greatest of Microsoft Operating Systems. MDT 2010 (Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/solutionaccelerators/dd407791.aspx ) is the newest update and is needed for the deployment of Windows 7. This has new and updated features from the previous tools, itís as you would expect based on the 2008 version but upgraded for 2010 J they have integrated / upgraded tools such as WAIK 2.0, WinPE 3.0, DISM, USMT 4.0. Some of these are new to 2010 and some are upgraded from 2008 / combined into MDT 2010 so some will be new names. With the combination of MDT and those tools you can do a fairly end user input-les (Lite Touch Install) of Windows 7 on any PC. Including injecting drivers based on specific machines, multi-cast the images out. They covered in a lot of depth SCCM for deploying Windows 7, this was, as many have found very heavy going, and seems in my view too complex for many in schools to bother with, it is very nice, powerful and flexible but the time taken to set it up, configure it, test it and take advantage of is too great in my view (I am sure many of us can find Ric_ís posts on trying to get it to deploy Windows 7 and his pains he had with it (oh and Ric they showed us how to fix your drive letter issue, you will kick yourself when you find out how to do it as itís a simple option ) The Application Compatibility Session was presented by Chris Jackson Ė The App Compat Guy (Blog - http://www.appcompatguy.com/ ) who was over from the USA to present, and brought life and excitement to the event, including hurling SWAG around the cinema! (An idea for the next Edu-Conf I think ) They also showed us how the Application Compatibility Toolkit can be used to help check out how your software will cope with the move to Windows 7 (or not as it maybe) and how to use Shims to potentially get some software working correctly. The tool can give you a nice inventory list of all your software and can run very powerful filters as well as look at feedback from other users, Microsoft Certification lists etc about is it / does it work with Windows 7, known issues with it etc and options you have to resolve them. A good website, apart from the Blogs of the presenters, is the MS App Compatibility Website Ė http://www.microsoft.com/compatibility which is a searchable list of software that has statuses on its compatibility. As some of us know, some websites donít render the same in IE8 as they did in IE7 or even 6 due to the stricter adherence of the standards, and there are ways of checking this out easily and seeing what causes it to go wrong as you can use, in Win 7 GPOs to set it to render some sites in other modes!! Did you know if you hit F12 in IE8 you get a Dev Tools option where you can use these tools to check the site out and change its rendering modes, and use the last option Ė Document Mode to change the types of rendering it does. A very nifty tool (one of many that we were shown today!) Another useful tool is the Expression Web 3 SuperPreview (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=8e6ac106-525d-45d0-84db-dccff3fae677&displaylang=en ), it comes in 2 flavours a free version and a paid for one Ė paid for is part of Expression Web which is part of the Expression Studio which is free to Schools Agreement Holders. The free one allows you to compare sites in different version of IT and drill down in more depth as to where itís going wrong, and play with code from them and see what is happening with sites, so maybe a good tool for you web devs to have a look at and see whatís occurring. Another useful web tool is Fiddler (http://www.fiddler2.com/fiddler ) this also gives you some dev and checking tools. There was a long session on WAIK and WDS combined together to give a smooth deployment either via PXE boot or onto DVD, USB Stick etc for your customised Windows 7 Deployments with some brilliant videos from Richard. This was as it sounded, basically use WDS and MDT2010 and its built in tools and you should be able to do near enough everything you want and need to with your Windows 7 Deployment in school, college, office or even your test LAN. Then followed a large session on SCCM and Zero Touch Deployments, this is where Soulfish is better chipping in as Iím afraid I didnít really follow this session that well as it is very complex but does have some brilliantly amazing power! But it is very much a High End Tool and you need a big LAN for it IMHO. Migrating Server Rolls from Joey Snow (Blog - http://blogs.technet.com/jsnow) Again another MS USA guy come over to support this event, and he showed us all the new shiny automated tools for migrating from your existing tin to your new Server 2008 R2 based systems be they physical or virtual boxes.
Lots of new shiny migration tools for things such as Certificate Services rolls, DHCP, DNS, Fileserver, Printserver etc lot of them, all done through PowerShell in the main (if you donít know about PowerShell yet you really need to start learning as more and more and more server stuff is going to be using it to control it ) A useful website for this part of the event, including the tools is Ė www.microsoft.com/migration which has them available for download and complete with step by step guides and work though. The final session of the day was using the USMT (User State Migration Toolkit) this is about moving users over from the XP to Windows 7, keeping desktops, favourites, settings and preferences exactly as they were but moved into the new Win 7 locations and setups, there are many ways of doing it some as part of your main deployments, some on their own, some on the same PC, some from one to another, some whilst re-formatting your PC etc (you get the idea many ways of doing it!) but they all give you the power back to act on it and keep your users happy. Soulfish was very interested in this for his Laptop users for instance. Another useful tool built into Win 7 that I hadnít seen before is PSR.exe, which is great for making help sheets as well as supporting users. You enter psr.exe at the run command it pops up a box with a record button this then records every step you take to do an action, errors it creates, files it deals with etc, its designed for support personnel to log and see what is happening with an end user. When you hit stop recording it makes a .zip files which has a webpage inside it, full of screen caps showing where you clicked, files accessed etc a VERY useful tool and well worth people having a look at! Anyway, that is a very quick, well 2 and ĺ pages in word, run through of the day (and my train back is nearly in Leeds so time to depart from the land of Internet on the move), I would like to summarise by saying it was a great event and thanks for Microsoft putting it on as a free event once again and do urge members to go to these events as they are well worth it. Oh and before people ask, as you would expect from Microsoft there were lots of opportunities to interact including via text, email and Twitter. The event was filmed and slides and video casts are now starting to turn up on the Techdays site - http://www.microsoft.com/uk/techdays/default.aspx Thanks to Soulfish for keeping me company on this event as well.