Moving your Windows XP machine into Virtualize mode and running inside Windows 7

Microsoft recently announced the availability of the P2V tool for desktop migration to address some of the issues face by customers. Most of the customers are reluctant to move to Windows 7 due to the application issues despite many solutions offered by Microsoft to address those problems. Some of the solutions they have been using is MED-V and APP-V which doesn’t address the problem of al audience.

With the P2V Migration tool (beta) with Software Assurance allows the users to simply convert their existing Windows XP environment into virtualize mode and run inside seamlessly inside Windows 7. During this conversion you’ll be able to preserve the existing domain membership, trusts and policies. This will be a great time saving for system administrators. User can use his existing legacy application, IE 6 and other programs inside Windows XP and still interact with Windows 7.

You can download the beta version of the software along with documentation from below mention link,

(https://connect.microsoft.com/site14/Downloads/DownloadDetails.aspx?DownloadID=30989)

Some of the key benefits from this tool is reducing the time frame to deploy Windows 7 in your organization. Most of the companies has allocated time to test the legacy application with Windows 7 and try to troubleshoot them. This will increase the timeline for customers not to use the new benefits in the new OS which can help them to improve the productivity. Thanks to this tool you can move ahead with your deployment timelines accordingly and still spend some time on R&D.

In order to use this software you need to comply as follows,

1. You need to have Microsoft Software Assurance Pack purchased and it is in valid period.

2. You can’t take a Windows XP image from a Windows OEM machine and transfer that image to Windows 7. (OEM license are not transferable)

3. You need to have Volume License to carry out this task.

I do hope Microsoft will come up with more flexible legal methods to address this when customers see the significant advantage on this tool.

Public Beta of service pack for windows 2008 r2 and windows 7 is on the way…

dynamic memory allocation, 3-D graphical experience for remote users via Remote FX and preparation for Cloud computing are few of the major promises to come along with it. In an opening-day keynote speech at Microsoft Corp.’s Tech•Ed 2010 North America conference they has release the official note saying public can expect this service pack on end of the July. Stay tune for this and see what experiment you can experience.

I would be more happy to see the Dynamic memory allocation feature which will allow the VPC to dynamically borrow the memory from other VPC’s when they’re under utilized.

Windows 7 deployment using image capturing

With introduction of the Windows Vista Microsoft introduce the image capturing method. Earlier we used to reply on Symantec ghost, Acronis…etc. Now Microsoft has given complete free tool set to do image capturing and deployment. One advantage I see in this method is the images going to be captured using the Microsoft given tools are,

  • One image for many hardware configurations
  • Multiple images in one file
  • Offline servicing of the image file
  • Installation on partitions of any size
  • Bootable image support for Windows PE
  • Modification of image files using APIs

Of course if you do further search you’ll find many more options and advantages. In this article I’ll guide you how to capture Windows 7 installed PC using Imagex command and then deploy it to different PC. Of course this can be customize and make it Zero touch deployment with advance tools like SCCM, but that will be another article 🙂

Ok to start first you’ll need following items,

  • Active Directory environment (DC with DHCP, DNS roles enabled)
  • Windows 7 PC installed with Windows 7 AIK (Automated Installation Kit)
  • Windows 7 Pc with all the necessary software preinstalled to be captured as reference image.
  • Another PC ready ready without any OS. Network card need to support PXE.

In my article the above mention lab has been carried out on HYPER-V environment. All of them are virtual PC’s. The power of virtualization really shines over here 🙂

Now I assume you’ve already setup the Domain Controller with functioning DNS and DHCP and also one Windows 7 PC installed with downloaded Windows AIK. (since that part is easy)

Now back to work. First I took a virtual PC with windows 7 and MS office 2007 preinstalled. In your case you can install all the application you normally use in your production environment.

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Once all the applications has been installed go ahead and remove the static IP settings and configure to get an IP from the DHCP server. Since we plan to do a image capturing we don’t want the same IP to be duplicated to all the PC, right?

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After that go ahead and launch the sysprep command. This command will make sure all the unique data and settings will be removed from that reference PC.

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once the PC has been generalized go ahead and start it from the Windows PE CD. How to create a Windows PE cd can be found over here. Since I’m doing everything in Virtual environment these pics will show how to assign the iso image and also how configure a legacy network adapter for that image. In HYPER-V only legacy network adapter will support getting IP from DHCP when booting.

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now once booted from the PE cd we’ll go ahead and map a network drive to export the capturing image. After that run the imagex command to capture the image.

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Once the image capture is completed (how long will it take to capture the image will depend on the amount of data you have in the reference PC) Take the same Windows PE CD and boot the machine which is not having any operating system. One you boot to the command prompt again map the network drive by using net use command and then import the captured image using the imagex command.

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Well once that completed you can restart the PC and start the PC with OOBE (Out of the Box Experience) In that scenario you can provide a computer name, user name..etc. So as you can see the entire process is that that difficult and compared with the benefits you can get out of image based deployments. Microsoft MDT 2010 is a good tool to use to automate this process if you have a requirement to deploy Windows XP, windows 7 or Windows 2008 for few hundred computers. Apart from that have a look into the following TechNet articles as well,

DISM , MDT2010 , SCCM

Enjoy with these tools and doing your own experiments.

Better together with Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 7

Few weeks back I had the privilege to conduct a session on Windows 2008 R2 and it’s new features. This session has been combined with Windows 7 and it’s new features. Windows 7 session has been conducted by Sabeshan. He is one of the Microsoft Certified Trainer in NetAssist.

We have conducted this session to audience who comes from filed engineer to IT manger level. So instead being too techie of the product features we highlighted the technology and how they can implement and get quick ROI from their network. When it comes to new technology some companies are slow adaptors and especially with few Enterprise companies. With Business perspective side there are few reasons for that. We wanted to break that barrier and demonstrate how effectively they can use the technology and get their expectations with less complex setup. Though we didn’t went on deep technical level on that day our future sessions will be deep dive into each product feature with live demonstrations.

We kept on demonstrating Windows 7 bit locker features, VHD boot up, Windows 2008 Active Directory Administrative Center, Recycle bin, PowerShell, Group Policy new feature usage….etc. Direct access could have been preferred one but with limited time frame I had to keep that away for a later time.

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Well there will be no fun without some introduction on Microsoft licensing 🙂 So we introduce one of Sri Lanka’s distributor as well to do some introduction. So keep in touch guys for more updates on future sessions. Some of the contents has been uploaded to the NetAssist training institute web site which can be reached from following links,

http://netassist.com.lk/windows7.html

How to extend trial period of Windows 2008, Windows Vista and Windows 7 products

WindowsServer2008 windows-7-logo windows-vista-logo-1

Most of the time I use Windows 2008 products for video recordings and customer site demonstrations. During this period I use TechNet subscription materials for this purpose. Once issue I have been facing is when I want to do another demo after few weeks time the VPC cannot be used do the trial period of the product has been expired! Registering the demonstration purpose operating systems frequently is not an easy option either (Even though I create a set of VPC like that once)

With Windows 2008 you’re getting trial period of 30 days. But if you’re smart enough now there is  way to extend that period for 180 or more. This is really valuable because that means we can keep the VM’s running properly under trail period for nearly 6 months! (For me that is more than enough!) Good news is this trial extend work around is working for Vista and Windows 7 as well. ok so let’s get start how to extend the trial period.

What we have to do is run a script in the windows\system32 folder called slmgr.vbs

  1. Bring up a Command Prompt.
  2. Type slmgr.vbs –rearm, and press ENTER.
  3. Restart the computer.

You computer has now extended the evaluation period 60 days!  You can run the same command in the same system for 3 times up giving you an activation-free trial period of a total of 240 days!

To find out how many days remain in the trial period you can use the following command.

  1. Type slmgr.vbs -dli, and the current status of the evaluation period is displayed.

Be curious and check out additional commands available in the slmgr.vbs

Something interesting in Windows 7 and windows 2008 R2

Start setting up HYPER-V role in my desktop PC after installing Windows 2008 R2 (It’s a new rig 🙂 )
Tried to install windows 2008 R2 Ent and Windows 7 as guest OS in my HYPER-V environment. After installing went on usual method of installing the IC’s (integration services), but no need to do that anymore.

According to the given message ICS (Integration Component Services)has been installed already.

Wondering if this installed automatically during the setup I went to the control panel and found no evidence for that. So looks like Microsoft has integrated the ic’s into the OS itself!
Looks like MS expecting big change in future on virtualization and they have been ready for it with the launch of Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 7.

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Windows7 RTM and upgrade options

Hope TechNet subscription people already enjoying the Windows 7 RTM (Build 7600) As a matter of fact I also rush into the new RTM version and choose Windows 7 Ultimate version 🙂 One good thing I found is Windows Easy Transfer (aka Files and Settings Transfer Wizard in Windows XP) working smoothly as is. I had 20 GB data in my user profile and after the fresh installation of Windows 7 Easy Transfer managed to restore the data properly and even give nice indication what application I am missing and what application I’ve already configured. Pretty nifty I would say.

BTW due to lack of VGA card driver and trying to run several Graphic intensive applications first time I experience the Windows 7 BSOD woooot!!!! Now it’s over with the latest NVIDIA VGA card driver installation. Apart from that I found out this OS is stable and managed to handle whatever the apps I throw for it.

Now lots of threads talk about the complicated methods of upgrading path offered by Microsoft. While you go through that you’ll initially get the same feel but considering the new enhancements in the OS it would be acceptable for us to have the clean installation rather than upgrading. Luckily for the cooperate customers upgrade will be easy with the given tools by Microsoft Desktop team. More will come on that in another article. So sit tight and enjoy the new OS.