Rolling Out Windows 7 - InformationWeek
Software // Operating Systems
01:45 PM
Randy George
Randy George
Connect Directly

Rolling Out Windows 7

We test four products to make your deployment sing.

Deploying a new operating system across a company is a bit like conducting an orchestra: You need the proper instruments in place, and your timing and execution must be right to evoke harmony. Get it wrong and all you get is noise. So for all those would-be maestros of Windows 7, now is the time to take a close look at OS deployment software, which we've tested in our Rolling Review.

Our review focuses on fat client deployment, so we tested products that provide the deployment, migration, and post-deployment management tools necessary to accomplish the task. The jump to Windows 7 from Windows XP, which is what most companies are contemplating, is a rip-and-replace upgrade, so user state migration was a key feature we examined.

We tested products from Acronis, Kace, Microsoft, and Avocent. We invited Symantec/Altiris, and while the company was willing to participate, its product was still in a pre-beta version for Windows 7 deployment and unable to meet our deadline for this Rolling Review. We also invited Novell for its ZenWorks product, but our publishing schedule didn't allow enough time to get the software into our labs.

We also tested XP7, a product from a company called Zinstall. Instead of migrating user applications, files, and preferences from XP to Windows 7, Zinstall installs Windows 7 while also preserving XP on the same machine. Users can toggle between XP and Windows 7. The software works well and is useful for organizations that aren't ready to let go of XP, but it doesn't meet our definition of a full-fledged migration and management product, so we didn't include it in this wrap-up.

Acronis Snap Deploy 3.0 provides a quick option for Windows 7 deployment. Installation was easy because all the server components came packaged in a small executable. Snap Deploy includes a PXE server with a Linux bootloader and Universal IP packet driver, which made it simple to get clients to the pre-boot environment over the network. Within the pre-boot environment, you can connect to the OS deployment server for image cloning and multicasting operations. Acronis offers some functionality to inject hardware drivers into the image, so Snap Deploy met one of our requirements for being able to deploy a single master image to multiple flavors of client hardware. On the whole, Snap Deploy is a good imaging tool, but desktop administrators will have to rope in several other tools to orchestrate the entire upgrade process, and the product offers no client management capabilities. As a result, Snap Deploy is only suitable for the smallest and simplest of deployment scenarios.

Kace KBOX is a series of appliances instead of software. Kace, which is being acquired by Dell, offers KBOX 1000 for client management and KBOX 2000 for OS deployment. You can use each appliance independently or link them together. Of all the deployment products we tested, KBOX 2000 was easiest to get up and running because the appliance takes all of the guesswork out of implementing the product.

InformationWeek: February 22, 2010 Issue To read the rest of the article, download a free PDF of InformationWeek magazine
(registration required)

The right tools can streamline your Win 7 upgrade. Our report based on a hands-on review is available now.

What you'll find:
  • More from our lab tests of products from Acronis, Avocent, Kace, and Microsoft
  • Insights into critical features such as user state migration
  • More on the pros and cons of each product, plus pricing
  • Guidelines for small, midsize, and large businesses to build a comprehensive short list
Download Our Windows 7 Deployment Tools Report

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll