This article is cross posted from my original post on Born To Learn

Microsoft struck a gold mine with the release of Windows 7. It was just the kind of OS, every Windows User ever wanted. Fast, Feature Oriented, Sleek, Reliable and Stable. It struck a chord with both; the Enterprise Users as well as the Home Users. The popularity of Windows 7 stems from the announcement recently made by Microsoft that in the eighteen months Windows 7 has been available; the Software Giant has already sold 350 million licenses.

The rapid adoption of Windows 7 clearly indicates the need to have the right plan, tools and technologies to help customers move from their older versions of Windows (Windows XP, Windows Vista) to Windows 7. Microsoft does provide a suite of Deployment Tools that can help an organization transition to Windows 7. This includes Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT), System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (SCCM), Windows Deployment Services (WDS), Windows Automated Installation Toolkit (WAIK) etc. So, if you boil it all down, the job of a Deployment Consultant is to use these Microsoft tools, devise a cost effective plan and then finally upgrade to Windows 7. That would be pretty easy, if we didn’t have to worry about three ‘little’ questions that bother each Desktop Administrator or a Consultant;

1) Which is the ‘right’ tool for my or my Customer’s environment?

2) How would I handle Applications that are not compatible with Windows 7?

3) And finally, how to use these tools to deploy Windows 7 with minimal or no user impact?

If you have been pondering over these questions as well, then put your concerns to rest. Microsoft Learning has a solution for you and it goes by the name of:

Course 6294A: Planning and Managing Windows 7 Desktop Deployments and Environments

Let’s take a look at what this course covers and how it can help you accelerate your or your customer’s Windows 7 Deployments.

http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/course.aspx?id=6294A

Alright, so doesn’t the course look promising? In a nutshell, by completing this course you should be able to

  • § Prepare to deploy Windows 7 business desktops.
  • § Assess and resolve application compatibility issues with Windows 7.
  • § Determine the most appropriate method to deploy Windows 7 based upon specific business requirements.
  • § Design a standard Windows 7 image by assessing and evaluating the business requirements.
  • § Deploy Windows 7 by using WAIK.
  • § Deploy Windows 7 by using WDS.
  • § Deploy Windows 7 by using Lite Touch Installation.
  • § Deploy Windows 7 by using Zero Touch Installation.
  • § Migrate user state by using Windows Easy Transfer and User State Migration Tool 4.0.
  • § Design, configure, and manage the Windows 7 client environment.
  • § Plan and deploy applications and updates to Windows 7 client computers.
  • § Plan and deploy Windows 7 by using LTI. (Lab-Only Module) 

I won’t go into the specifics of each and every module of this course. You can refer the link above to get more details of that. What I really want to share is how this course can transform you into a Deployment ‘Consultant’ in the real sense of the term. 

Course 6294A teaches you stuff for the “real world”. It is more of less based on the Microsoft Operations Framework covering all the phases of the Desktop Deployment Lifecycles. 

The course begins with the overview of the Desktop Lifecycle and walks you through the deployment challenges and considerations, tools used to architect a deployment strategy, accessing the existing infrastructure using the Microsoft Assessment and Planning tool and choosing the right Activation Strategy. This is crucial as it can help you gauge the existing infrastructure and design an appropriate plan. As the Great Abraham Lincoln said and I quote, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. This is so very true and applicable to every deployment project. Lack of planning and a proper vision may save you some time, but you would have your customers baying for your blood if the deployment goes wrong or proves to be a hole in the pocket. 

Module 2 covers one of the biggest challenges for Desktop Deployment; Application Compatibility.It teaches you how to use the Application Compatibility Toolkit to inventory applications that are not compatible with Windows 7 and them to Windows 7 using various remediation techniques. 

One striking feature of this course is that it slowly steers you through the entire process of Envisioning, Planning, Application Portfolio Management, Deploying and Maintaining. The MCT teaching this course can add value by chipping in with his/her consulting experiences while working on deployment projects.

Module 3 helps answering the question “Which deployment mechanism is right for my environment?” while Module 4 to Module 8 cover the “how to do” aspect of it. While you have your Users all excited as they move to a new platform, you really don’t want their excitement to subside by figuring out that they seem to have lost their “personalized” Windows which they have been using for years together. Module 9 guides us through the process of migrating user state data by leveraging the USMT and the WET tools. 

Module 10 addresses the concerns of “determining the method for implementing the client configurations” by examining how to design, configure, and manage Windows® 7 client configurations. This focus of Module 11 involves the explanation of Configuration Manager, GPO and RDS/TS RemoteApp, along with considerations for using different file types of application file types. 

The course climaxes with an extensive lab which provides an opportunity to perform an end-to-end deployment of Windows 7 by using the LTI cementing the concepts you learnt throughout the course. 

The Labs used in this course are top notch and will surely help you getting your feet wet with related deployment technologies transforming you from being a novice to an expert. 

Next Steps

All MCTs are certified instructors and bring years of teaching/educational/consulting experience on the table. Know your instructor prior to the course. ‘Bing’ about him/her. If he/she has a blog, go through the posts. Not that all MCTs have blogs, but a reputed CLPS or a training center will surely give you the best instructor in the industry. Look for promotional offers. There are plenty in the Training Spotlight section.

Killing two birds in one shot!

Apart from preparing you to face real world Windows 7 deployment challenges, this course maps to the MCITP Exam 70-686: Pro: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Administrator. So in other words, you get best of both worlds. By teaching you skills required for this exam it helps you pass the exam with flying colors thereby making your resume stand out as compared to others.

Stay current by following the Deployment Guys blog at http://blogs.technet.com/b/deploymentguys/

Reading and then applying what you've learned is important. Practice, practice, practice as part of your learning process. Take one step at a time, and remember to breathe! Stand before you walk and walk before you run J. Don't let yourself get overwhelmed. The course book can always be your handy reference.

Wishing you all the best!