As I write this blog, the SP2 download is available only to TechNet and MSDN subscribers (drat! I gave up my TechNet subscription as of 1/1/2008, and this is the first time I’ve missed it since then). On Thursday, 12/4/08, it became available on its own Beta CPP page [added 12/5/08].
Of course this information begs a very important question for enterprise Vista admins to ponder: why would they care about this beta? Instead of thinking of it as another distraction from important tasks and activities, think of it as an early opportunity to look for potential install, deployment, and compatibility issues. Although the full-blown release won’t go live until April09 at the earliest, it’s never too soon to start weeding out the potential gotchas from the work that a full-blown rollout will inevitably bring. That’s why you’ll probably want to download and work with this beta, albeit in the context of a safe and isolated test lab setup.
There’s one more incredibly useful nugget inside this prep guide. It reads: “This exam is the Windows Vista version of Exam 74-134: Pre-Installing Microsoft Products and Technologies, [and is] focused on the OEM Pre-Installation Kit (OPK).” Why so? Because you’ll find some great links to study materials for the other exam on its prep page (linked at the head of this paragraph) that don’t appear on the 70-624 exam page.
The prep tools and resources that appear on the 70-624 page include the following:
The lack of books and complete e-learning coverage explains nicely why the 74-134 page is referenced, and also why it’s a good idea to dig up its study material citations to help you get ready for this exam as well.
Skills measured on the 70-624 exam break down as follows:
There’s a lot more to this exam than the title conveys, especially where automation, deployment, and user state migration are concerned. This one’s going to take some work and experience to get through, so be prepared to invest substantial time and effort in preparing, unless you work with these tools and technologies on a daily basis. My guess is that those conditions hold only in enterprises or outside services companies big or specialized enough to have their own Vista deployment teams. How many of those can there be? The total count for MCTS: Business Desktop Deployment certified professionals as of 10/27/08 is 4,868, so the answer could be: “More than you think!”]]>
Microsoft is keenly aware of this potential hurdle, and has devoted considerable time, energy, and resources to creating tools, guides, and processes for assessing application compatibility. In some upcoming blogs, I’ll take a closer look at that company’s Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0, aka ACT. In this blog, I begin the overall process of assessing application compatibility by describing that process as Microsoft sees it, and pointing to some papers, resources, and how-to’s that the company has put together to help companies and organizations see their way through it. Much of the information you’ll find here, in fact, is summarized from the company’s paper entitled “Getting Started with Application Compatibility in a Windows Deployment” (PDF document, 301KB).
In a nutshell, the process works like this:
Centrally managed environments that have established standard desktop configurations and that control the applications allowed to run on those desktops will have the easiest time of the inventory stage. ACT includes an inventory tool, in fact, for environments that don’t already maintain one (such as Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007, or SMS 2003). The idea is to put together a comprehensive list of every application and version in use on enterprise desktops.
The next step, which MS delicately labels “prioritize and rationalize” is the tricky one. This really means choosing standard versions for apps in use across multiple versions (what MS calls “application relevancy”). It also means choosing a single app when more than one is used to do the same job (such as multiple productivity suites, video editing tools, and so forth; MS calls this “application redundancy”). Finally, it means getting rid of unauthorized applications or those that, as MS puts it, “are irrelevant to the day-to-day work being done in your organization.”
After the winnowing process is done, there will be fewer applications to deal with. This is the point at which prioritization occurs, based on the relative importance of the remaining applications within your organization. Often, this means tossing names into buckets that might be labeled:
The categorization process also involves identifying applications essential for business or operations to proceed, and for typical job roles to be enacted. Prioritization within buckets requires management buy-in and means tackling items from the top down, once there’s agreement on what’s on top, and how items are ordered from there.
Next comes application testing, which is where you’ll decide which applications can be made to work, and which ones may need to be retired and replaced. Ultimately, the idea is to work toward a collection of software components that get the necessary work done and that also work properly with Vista. More on this in my next blog!
For more ACT resources, check out
Just Released: Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT)5.0.3
ACT 5.0 Deployment Guide
ACT 5.0 Step by Step Guides
TechNet Webcast: Making Windows Vista Application Compatibility Testing More Predictable
Webcast: Debugging for Application Compatibility Issues with Chris Jackson (interested readers should also check out Jackson’s Blog)
Windows Vista Application Compatibility Training Recordings