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Planning Deployment : Planning Low-Volume Deployment, Windows Vista Requirements

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1/30/2013 6:05:15 PM

1. Planning Low-Volume Deployment

In low-volume deployment projects, such as in a small or medium-sized business, the planning guidance in BDD 2007 can be overwhelming. The BDD 2007 technology framework is well-suited to low-volume deployment projects. In fact, a small business can prepare BDD 2007 to deploy Windows Vista in as little as a few hours. Medium-sized businesses can accomplish the same in a few days. Even though you can use the BDD 2007 technology framework without using its planning guidance, you should still put some effort into planning your deployment. This section describes some of the planning steps you should take in this scaled-down scenario.

The first step in the deployment process is to assess your business needs so that you can define the project scope and objectives. Next, decide how best to use Windows Vista to meet those needs. Then assess your current network and desktop configurations, determine whether you need to upgrade your hardware or software, and choose the tools for your deployment. Having made these decisions, you are ready to plan your deployment. An effective plan typically includes the following:

  • A schedule for the deployment.

  • All the details for customizing Windows Vista to suite your requirements.

  • An assessment of your current configuration, including information about users, organizational structure, network infrastructure, and hardware and software. Create a test environment in which you can deploy Windows Vista by using the features and options in your plan. Have your test environment mirror your production network as closely as possible, including hardware, network architecture, and business applications.

  • Test and pilot plans. When you’re satisfied with the results in your test environment, roll out your deployment to a specific group of users to test the results in a controlled production environment. This is your pilot test.

  • A rollout plan. Finally, roll out Windows Vista to your entire organization.

Creating the deployment plan is a cyclical process. As you move through each phase, modify the plan based on your experiences.


Even if you choose not to use the deployment guidance in BDD 2007, you can still use the job aids it includes, which provide templates for planning a Windows Vista deployment more quickly and more thoroughly.

Scope and Objectives

The scope is the baseline for creating a specification for your deployment project. The scope of your deployment project is defined largely by your answers to the following questions:

  • What business needs do you want to address with Windows Vista?

  • What are the long-term goals for the deployment project?

  • How will your Windows Vista client computers interact with your IT infrastructure?

The scope is simply a statement of what you’re trying to accomplish and how you plan to accomplish it. Your statement of scope need only be a few paragraphs long and should not be longer than a page.

Current Environment

Document your existing computing environment, looking at your organization’s structure and how it supports users. Use this assessment to determine your readiness for desktop deployment of Windows Vista. The three major areas of your computing environment to assess include your hardware, software, and network.

  • Hardware Do your desktop and laptop computers meet the minimum hardware requirements for Windows Vista? In addition to meeting these requirements, all hardware must be compatible with Windows Vista. 

  • Software Are your applications compatible with Windows Vista? Make sure that all your applications, including custom-designed software, work with computers running Windows Vista. 

  • Network Document your network architecture, including topology, size, and traffic patterns. Also, determine which users need access to various applications and data, and describe how they obtain access.

Configuration Plan

Determine which features to include in your configuration and how to implement these features to simplify the management of users and computers in your organization. An important means of simplification is standardization. Standardizing desktop configurations makes it easier to install, update, manage, support, and replace computers that run Windows Vista. Standardizing users’ configuration settings, software, hardware, and preferences simplifies deploying operating system and application upgrades, and configuration changes can be guaranteed to work on all computers.

When users install their own operating system upgrades, applications, device drivers, settings, preferences, and hardware devices, a simple problem can become complex. Establishing standards for desktop configurations prevents many problems and makes it easier for you to identify and resolve problems. Having a standard configuration that you can install on any computer minimizes downtime by ensuring that user settings, applications, drivers, and preferences are the same as before the problem occurred. The following list provides an overview of some of the features that you must plan for:

  • Management Desktop management features allow you to reduce the total cost of ownership in your organization by making it easier to install, configure, and manage clients. 

  • Networking You can configure computers that run Windows Vista to participate in a variety of network environments. 

  • Security Windows Vista includes features to help you secure your network and computers by controlling authentication and access to resources and by encrypting data stored on computers. These features include BitLocker Drive Encryption, Windows Firewall with Advanced Security, and so on. 

Testing and Piloting

Before rolling out your deployment project, you need to test it for functionality in a controlled environment. Before you begin testing your deployment project, create a test plan that describes the tests you will run, who will run each test, a schedule for performing tests, and the expected results. The test plan must specify the criteria and priority for each test. Prioritizing your tests can help you avoid slowing down your deployment because of minor failures that you can easily correct later; it can also help you identify larger problems that might require redesigning your plan.

The testing phase is essential because a single error can be replicated to all computers in your environment if it is not corrected before you deploy the image. Create a test lab that is not connected to your network but mirrors your organization’s network and hardware configurations as closely as possible. Set up your hardware, software, and network services as they are in your production environment. Perform comprehensive testing on each hardware platform, testing both application installation and operation. These steps can greatly increase the confidence of the project teams and the business-decision makers, resulting in a higher-quality deployment.

Microsoft recommends that you pilot the project next i.e.roll out the deployment to a small group of users after you test the project. Piloting the installation allows you to assess the success of the deployment project in a production environment before rolling it out to all users. The primary purpose of pilot projects is not to test Windows Vista, but to get user feedback. This feedback will help to further determine the features that you must enable or disable in Windows Vista. For pilots, you might choose a user population that represents a cross-section of your business in terms of job function and computer proficiency. Install pilot systems by using the same method that you plan to use for the final rollout.

The pilot process provides a small-scale test of the eventual full-scale rollout: You can use the results of the pilot, including any problems encountered, to finalize your rollout plan. Compile the pilot results and use the data to estimate upgrade times, the number of concurrent upgrades you can sustain, and peak loads on the user-support functions.

Rolling Out

After you thoroughly test your deployment plan, pilot the deployment to smaller groups of users, and are satisfied with the results, begin rolling out Windows Vista to the rest of your organization. To finalize the rollout plan, you need to determine the following:

  • The number of computers to include in each phase of the rollout

  • The time needed to upgrade or perform a clean installation for each computer that you include

  • The personnel and other resources needed to complete the rollout

  • The time frame during which you plan to roll out the installations to different groups

  • Training needed for users throughout the organization

Throughout the rollout, gather feedback from users and modify the deployment plan as appropriate.

2. Windows Vista Requirements

To plan deployment, you must understand the deployment requirements for Windows Vista. The following sections describe the minimum hardware requirements and the migration paths for Windows Vista. 

Hardware Requirements

Table 1 describes the minimum hardware requirements for installing Windows Vista. Part of the deployment Planning Phase is collecting a hardware inventory. Compare the hardware requirements in Table 1 to your hardware inventory to identify any computers that require upgrades or replacements.

Table 1. Minimum Hardware Requirements
HardwareMinimum requirement
Processor800 MHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor
Memory512 MB
Graphics ProcessorSVGA (800 by 600)
Hard Disk Drive20 GB
Free Hard Disk Drive Space15 GB
Optical DriveCD-ROM Drive


To assess the readiness of client computers for Windows Vista, you can use the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment Solution Accelerator, a centralized and agent-less tool that can remotely inventory computers, identify their supported Windows Vista experience, and recommend specific hardware upgrades where appropriate. At the time of writing this Resource Kit, the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment Solution Accelerator is in public beta. 

Upgrade Paths

Table 2 describes the Windows Vista upgrade and migration paths. As shown in the table, performing an in-place upgrade from Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) or later to Windows Vista is supported. Using Windows Easy Transfer to migrate user state data from Windows 2000 with SP4 or later to Windows Vista is also supported. However, upgrading or migrating user state data from Microsoft Windows 98 to Windows Vista is not supported.

Table 2. Windows Vista Migration Paths
FromUpgrade to Windows VistaMigrate to Windows Vista using Windows Easy TransferMigrate to Windows Vista using USMT
Microsoft Windows 95NoNoNo
Windows 98NoNoNo
Windows 98 Second Edition (SE)NoNoNo
Microsoft Windows NT 4.0NoNoNo
Windows 2000 with SP4 or laterNoYesYes
Windows XP with SP2 or laterYesYesYes
Windows VistaYes (higher SKU)YesYes


You cannot upgrade Windows XP x64 to Windows Vista x64.

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