Prowess' SmartDeploy Enterprise uses a combination of virtual machine and other technologies to migrate from XP to Windows 7.
If you're looking at better ways to automate your Windows 7
deployment, you might want to consider Prowess' SmartDeploy Enterprise. This is
one of numerous tools that enable collections of PCs to migrate from Windows XP
to Windows 7.
As you probably know, Microsoft doesn't make it easy to do
this: While you can upgrade a Vista PC to Windows 7, you can't do so with XP
and save the various user files, applications and their settings without having
to erase the entire hard drive and start from scratch.
SmartDeploy does this using a combination of virtual machine
and some other clever technologies. If you have used various other deployment
tools such as Symantec's Altiris or Novell's Zenworks, you will feel right at
home here. And while it can be used to deploy all kinds of Windows OSes, in
this review we'll look at what it takes to go from XP to Windows 7.
Think of SmartDeploy as the reverse of VMware's Converter
program: It takes a virtual disk and turns it into a physical one. To get
started, you need to create your target OS, such as Windows 7, inside a VM.
SmartDeploy can be used only to migrate from a VM, but it
does support a wide variety of virtual machines, including Microsoft's Virtual
PC, VMware and Citrix's XenServer. The virtual disk needs to be as clean a copy
as possible of the ultimate OS, plus all your apps.
Also, don't install VMware tools or equivalent; the PC
shouldn't have joined a domain; you shouldn't have done any image snapshots;
and the disk image shouldn't be split among multiple files. These caveats are
necessary for SmartDeploy to do its magic.
Capturing the Image
Once you have set up your VM, you then use the Image Capture
tool to convert the VM into a generic Windows Image file by going through the
steps here. This is the same kind of file that Microsoft ships on its Windows 7
DVD. The big difference is that with the
Capture Wizard, you incorporate all the apps and other customizations that you
require to produce your own image file.
Depending on how many different computers you are going to install
Windows 7 on, you will want to spend some time with the Platform Manager, which
is used to further customize the driver package for these PCs. If you go to the
SmartDeploy.com Website, you can get a feel for which packages are available
for specific hardware and vendors.
Next, you need to create the boot media, which will be used
to boot the new target computers. You use the Media Wizard and walk through
steps that are fairly self-explanatory.
Finally, you boot the target PC and attach to your image and
load your OS. SmartDeploy uses its own preboot environment to take control of
the PC and connect it to the right image (which you can store on a network file
share) and load the real Windows 7 OS. The SmartDeploy software will preserve
your users' documents and settings and bring them back to the new PC at this
If you don't hit any snags, it might take you a couple of
hours from starting to install a virgin VM to the final boot in Windows 7. Once
you have gone through this process, getting it set up on multiple PCs won't
take much additional time at all.