ASPE-IT instructor Tom Carpenter provides some new thoughts.
I’ve been working with Windows 7 now for more than two years, when you include the betas of the product. It seems like only yesterday that it was released, but it will actually be the one year anniversary in just a few days. What does this mean about rollouts? It means that many more people will begin their deployments of Windows 7 in the next six months than we saw deployed in the past 12 months.
I’ve planned on 8 full-scale deployments and have consulted on more than 20 in the past year. In that time, I’ve come up with three major tips related to rollouts. I’m going to share all three with you in this post.
First, have a plan. Don’t just assume you can start installing Windows 7 without a full plan. Many complexities must be considered when rolling out this operating system. You must plan for hardware compatibility, software compatibility and security. If you do not plan, you will run into problems during the deployment that can cause minor hiccups (at best) or require a complete regeneration of images (at worst). Avoid these problems by creating a full plan and this means testing your installations thoroughly.
Second, train the users. Windows 7 is not a simple change, particularly for users moving from Windows XP. Some of your users will have used Vista at home and that will soften the blow of the interface changes, but Windows 7 is also different from Vista with interface changes and tweaks scattered throughout. Providing a simple one hour overview for advanced users and a half-day class for beginning and intermediate users will greatly reduce the support workload after deployment. In one small business, with about 220 employees, we provided this training and the internal support techs said that the “how-to” questions didn’t even spike after Windows 7 was deployed. The users had question, but there was no greater volume than that seen when running Windows XP.
In another organization, with fewer employees and no internal support staff, my consulting firm provided three months of telephone “how-to” support on Windows 7 and Office 2007. We may have received one or two calls per week from a pool of about 60 employees. We had provided a half-day class to all employees spread over a five day period, with some employees coming to the class each day. Because of the class, the users were able to jump in and begin working with the new interface without any major issues.
Third, remove unneeded features from your deployment image. Many deployment engineers forget this step. We think of the importance of adding applications and features that are needed, but we fail to remove those that are not needed. Removing unneeded features reduces the installation size and time for the operating system and it also takes away components that will only cause users to waste time instead of getting productive work done.
A few examples of features that can typically be removed from the deployment image include:
- Windows Media Center: This is really nothing more than a glorified DVD/Blu-Ray player.
- Internet Printing Client: Very few large organizations are using web printing and the need for this feature is almost non-existent in small businesses.
- Tablet PC Components: If your users will not need these features, they can be removed. The table PC components includes Windows journal, the math input panel, the tablet PC input panel and handwriting recognition features. Few desktop computers use these features and yet they are installed by default.
- Windows Gadget Platform: This feature allows you to display gadgets on the desktop. If your company does not play to deploy custom gadgets, this feature should probably be removed from all business-use computers.
In addition to the preceding list of features, browse through the features in Programs and Features > Turn Windows features on or off. From hear you can determine those features that should be removed from the deployment image. To remove the features, simply use the Programs and Features Control Panel to remove the undesired features from your image creation machine before capturing the image for deployment.
I could give you 33 tips instead of just 3, but these 3 tips will provide the greatest benefit to your deployment planning. Keep watching this blog. More deployment suggestions and solutions for Windows 7 will be posted in the coming weeks. In addition, I’ll begin posting on other Windows 7 topics within the next couple of months. Keep coming back; you won’t want to miss the tips and information coming your way.
Tom teaches public courses but is also available for a personalized on-site training courses that can be tailored for your companies needs, for more information please visit our On-Site page.