One of my friends has a cozy home near campus but recently decided to upgrade to a nicer place. Her new home has all the latest creature comforts like home automation and an upgraded security system. According to her, the best part is that it’s further away from campus.

When it came time to move, she discovered her attic was full of things she’d collected over the years. Rather than sort through it all, get rid of the junk, and move only the real treasures, she chose just to move it all to the new house. She ended up doing a lot of extra work packing and unpacking things that she didn’t really need or even want.

Her move is similar to your predicament: You’re busy packing up for the move to Windows 7. However, you’re missing a key opportunity to make the job easier by using the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). You probably own it already. Pulling MDOP off the shelf and rolling it out during your Windows 7 refresh can help you do it more efficiently and less painfully. How? Over the next few blog posts I’ll show you how, but for now I’ll start with pre-migration, when you’re planning a Windows 7 rollout.

An inventory is the foundation on which you build a successful rollout plan. Not only does it describe where you’re going but also from where you’re starting. If you’re business is like many, though, you haven’t inventoried your computers in years. Yes, you probably have an inventory of each computer asset, and yes, you know they’re running Windows XP. But do you know what devices and applications are on them? You can’t plan for application and device compatibility without this information.

An intriguing statistic that we all know intuitively is that the top 20% of applications are on 80% or more of the desktop computers. These aren’t usually the applications that sneak up and bite you during a rollout. The other 80% of the applications—the ones that are less well known and less well tested—are the ones about which you need to know. Additionally, how much easier would your Windows 7 refresh be if you could easily identify and eliminate duplicate, unnecessary, and undesirable applications? Each application you can toss is just one less thing to do—one less point of failure.

MDOP includes a feature to help you complete this all important first planning step: The Microsoft Asset Inventory Service (AIS). Using AIS can give you a comprehensive view of the applications and devices on your desktop computers. In addition to the basic inventory, AIS can help you understand the usage patterns of those applications. Armed with that information, you can identify the top 20% and bottom 80% of the applications in your organization. You can eliminate applications to reduce the inventory, and you can better prioritize your application-compatibility testing efforts. AIS can help you translate your inventory in to useful, actionable information.

I also want to touch lightly on System Center Desktop Error Monitoring (DEM)—not because it’s a great planning tool but because it can help you more carefully watch for side effects during your rollout. To use DEM for that purpose, however, you have to prepare it in advance. DEM is an agentless monitoring system that’s very simple to deploy. It monitors failures and can help identify their causes and their resolutions. By deploying DEM early, you can compare metrics before and after rollout. This comparison can give you invaluable insight in to the impact of deployment. Back up that fuzzy feeling you have about the stability of your work with facts provided by DEM.

The time to deploy MDOP is when you begin planning your move to Windows 7. In my next blog post, I’ll talk about MDOP features that can help make the actual move easier. Until then, take a look at the article Optimizing Windows 7 Deployment with MDOP—it gives you roadmap for where I’m heading.