Deploying Windows 7 - Part 13: Manual Migration from Windows XP to Windows 7

by [Published on 1 Dec. 2009 / Last Updated on 1 Dec. 2009]

This series of articles on deploying Windows 7 continues describing how to manually migrate a computer from Windows XP to Windows 7 while preserving the user settings and data on the computer.

If you would like to read previous articles in this series, please go to:

Tip:
You can find more information about automating LTI deployment in the Windows 7 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press. I'm the lead author for this Resource Kit and I also maintain the Unofficial Support Site for the Windows 7 Resource Kit where you will find the latest updates and other useful information.

Understanding the Refresh Computer Deployment Scenario

So far we've looked at how to use MDT 2010 to deploy a Windows 7 image onto bare-metal target computers. This is known as the New Computer deployment scenario, whereby a new installation of Windows 7 is deployed to a new computer. In the New Computer scenario, there are no existing user settings or data that need to be migrated, and the Standard Client Task Sequence is used to deploy the captured image of your reference computer onto the target computer.

But what if our target computers are already in use and are running Windows XP and have user settings and data stored on them? And what if we want to migrate these computers to Windows 7 while retaining the existing user settings and data on each computer? In that case, the user settings and data on each computer must first be saved, then the computer must be wiped, the new operating system is laid down, and finally the user settings and data are restored. This is known as the Refresh Computer deployment scenario, and in addition to using this approach to migrate computers from Windows XP to Windows 7 you can also use it to "repair" user's Windows 7 computers by re-imaging them when they become corrupted.

Note:
Why can't one use the Upgrade Computer deployment scenario to migrate computers from Windows XP to Windows 7? Because there is no supported upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 7, take a look at this link for a list of supported upgrade scenarios. For more information on deployment scenarios, see my earlier article Understanding Deployment Scenarios in my series of articles on deploying Vista.

Verifying Migration Readiness

Before you migrate a Windows XP computer to Windows 7, you should make sure the computer is able to run the new operating system. If you are only migrating a small number of computers, you can use the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, available from here. For larger migrations however, you should use the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Tool (MAP) 4.0 described in article 3 and article 4 of this series.

Migrating User Settings and Data

MDT 2010 includes the User State Migration Tool (USMT) 4.0 and uses this tool to migrate user settings and data during a Refresh or Replace Computer deployment scenario. A new feature of version 4.0 of USMT is support for hard-link migration, which allows user settings and data to remain stored on the computer during a Refresh Computer deployment scenario. With earlier versions of USMT, user state information (user settings and data) had to be copied to a network share or removable media because the computer was wiped during a Refresh Computer deployment scenario, then after the operating system is installed the user state information is restored by copying it back to the computer from the network share or removable media where it was saved.

With hard-link migration however, the user state remains where it is on the user's computer, hard links are created for the user settings and data files. A hard link is a directory entry for a file on an NTFS file system. Usually each file has a single hard link, meaning the file appears in a single directory on the file system. With hard-link migration however, USMT creates an additional hard link for each user setting or data file so that the file also appears to reside in the temporary C:\MININT folder created by MDT during deployment. Then, instead of wiping the file system from the computer in order to re-image it, MDT 2010 simply deletes all operating system folders and files from the computer—the boot volume is not formatted—while the MININT folder ensures that the user state information is not deleted from the computer. After installation is complete, the user state information is restored to its proper locations by rebuilding the links to the files, and the MININT folder together with its hard links is deleted.

The benefits of this approach for migrations are threefold:

  1. The migration is faster because the file system does not need to be wiped and recreated during deployment.
  2. The migration is faster because the user state information doesn't need to be copied to a network location, deleted from the computer, and restored.
  3. The deployment is simpler because you do not need to create a separate network share for storing saved user state information.

Manually Migrating Windows XP Computers to Windows 7

Now let us try manually migrating a Windows XP computer to Windows 7 using MDT 2010. Begin by customizing the computer, for example by saving a bitmap image file in the My Pictures folder of user Karen Berg (CONTOSO\kberg) as shown in Figure 1:


Figure 1: Karen's computer is currently running Windows XP and has a photo in her My Pictures folder

Now on the technician computer, open the properties of your deployment share and configure the BootStrap.ini file to read as follows:

[Settings]

Priority=Default

[Default]

DeployRoot=\\SEA-DC1\DeploymentShare$

UserID=Administrator

UserDomain=CONTOSO

UserPassword=Pa$$w0rd

KeyboardLocale=en-US

SkipBDDWelcome=YES

Then configure the CustomSettings.ini file to read as follows:

[Settings]

Priority=Default

Properties=MyCustomProperty

[Default]

OSInstall=YES

SkipAdminPassword=YES

SkipApplications=YES

SkipAppsOnUpgrade=YES

SkipBDDWelcome=YES

SkipBitLocker=YES

SkipCapture=YES

SkipComputerName=NO

SkipComputerBackup=NO

ComputerBackupLocation=AUTO

SkipDeploymentType=NO

SkipDomainMembership=YES

JoinDomain=CONTOSO

DomainAdmin=Administrator

DomainAdminDomain=CONTOSO

DomainAdminPassword=Pa$$w0rd

SkipFinalSummary=NO

SkipLocaleSelection=YES

KeyboardLocale=en-US

UserLocale=en-US

UILanguage=en-US

SkipPackageDisplay=YES

SkipProductKey=YES

SkipSummary=NO

SkipTaskSequence=NO

SkipTimeZone=YES

TimeZoneName=Central Standard Time

SkipUserData=NO

UserDataLocation=AUTO

Then create a new task sequence based on the Standard Client Task Sequence and configure the task sequence to deploy Windows 7 Enterprise edition.

Now log onto Karen's computer as Administrator, open a command prompt, and type the following command to launch the Windows Deployment Wizard on the computer:

\\SEA-DC1\DeploymentShare$\Scripts\LiteTouch.vbs

The wizard will begin by prompting you to select a task sequence (Figure 2):


Figure 2: Select the task sequence for migrating from XP to Windows 7

Next, you will be prompted to select the Refresh Computer deployment scenario (Figure 3):


Figure 3: Note that the Upgrade Computer deployment scenario is not available for Windows XP

Next, you will be prompted to specify a new name for the computer or accept the existing name (Figure 4):


Figure 4: Specify the computer name

Next, you are prompted to specify how to handle user state information. Leave this set at the default of automatically determining the location and storing the information locally on the computer (Figure 5):


Figure 5: Using hard-link migration to store user state information locally on the computer

Next, you are prompted to make an image backup of your computer in case the migration fails. You should always do this, but for this walkthrough we will omit the part where you create the backup to speed things up (Figure 6):


Figure 6: You should back up the computer before migrating it to Windows 7 (though we are not doing this here)

Next, review the choices you have made (Figure 7):


Figure 7: Review your selections

Now click Begin, and soon a progress bar will indicate that user state information is being captured (Figure 8):


Figure 8: User state information is being captured and saved on the computer

After a short time, the computer will reboot and MDT will begin applying the Windows 7 image to the computer. Once Windows 7 has been installed and the computer reboots for the last time, the progress bar will indicate that the captured user state information is being restored (Figure 9).


Figure 9: User state information is being restored

This may take a few minutes. Once this is done, Karen Berg can log onto her refreshed computer and when she opens her Pictures library, she sees that the photo is still present, which indicates that her user state information has been successfully migrated (Figure 10):


Figure 10: The migration of user state information was successful during the XP to Win7 migration

In the next article of this series we'll examine how to automate this whole process.

If you would like to read previous articles in this series, please go to:

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