With the October 22 general availability of Windows 7 inching inexorably closer every week, there is no doubt that some IT departments will be scrambling to prepare their SMBs for the big move to Windows 7.
Rob Schaper, who is the Product Marketing Manager of PCmover, wrote in with these simple steps that small and medium-sized businesses will do well to follow. As usual, I have added my own comments and thoughts.
Schaper: All non-traditional applications on XP must be Windows 7-compatible, or they may not install properly. Identifying compatibility issues early provides time to come up with alternative options and ensure that all critical business applications remain operational after a migration takes place.
Mah: I suppose that's what the release of Windows 7 RC and, more recently, the availability of the free 90-day Windows 7 Enterprise trial are about - to give companies the ability to adequately test existing applications ahead of actual deployment. In some ways, the jump from 32-bit to 64-bit is bigger than switching to Windows 7, so be sure to test thoroughly if you are considering going to Windows 7 64-bit directly.
Get users involved
Schaper: Ask users receiving a new PC to perform pre-migration clean-up ahead of the migration, including:
Mah: While I would hesitate to ask end users to touch their registry for any reason at all, I love the part about getting users to be responsible about backing up their own data. Assuming only a moderate amount of data per user, one suggestion I have is to make use of the free version of SugarSync to ensure proper backup of user files.
Use a migration utility
Schaper: Use a migration utility like Laplink PCmover to fully automate the upgrade process, including the transfer of installed applications, data and settings.
Mah: Obviously, the company recommends the use of its own PCmover product in order to automate the upgrade process. I confess I haven't yet been able to try out my (beta) evaluation copy of PCmover on a test system. I did go through the upgrade instructions, however, and it looks incredible to me: Other than migrating to a new machine via a USB connection, it is also possible to perform an "in-place" upgrade from Windows XP or Windows Vista to Windows 7.
Remember to do a proper data wipe
Schaper: After the migration is complete and the "old" PC is ready to be recycled and re-used, safely erase the data using a certified disk wipe solution that is DoD certified. This process ensures all private information on the PC will no longer be accessible.
Mah: Of course, another way to ensure the confidentiality of your data would be to encrypt it using a disk encryption utility such as Microsoft's BitLocker. Even with that, though, it makes sense to adhere to proper data-wipe procedures.
Over the last few months, I have covered a fair amount on Windows 7. You can find a round-up at the SMB Windows 7 cheat sheet. In the meantime, do feel free to post any questions you have here.