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Microsoft USMT: Answering Windows 7 migration questions

IT shops can get help from Microsoft USMT for Windows XP to Windows 7 migrations. But first, be ready to answer some questions.

A great way to handle migration, especially if you're moving from Windows XP to Windows 7, is Microsoft USMT.

But be aware that the tool can't do everything you might want it to, and it has drawbacks depending on the scale of your Windows migration. Here are answers to some common questions about what the User State Migration Tool (USMT) can and can't do, how you can use it to manage more user accounts and how to move settings from one computer to another.

What are the capabilities and limits of Microsoft USMT?
Microsoft USMT is a powerful tool for IT, but it can only do so much. It can migrate Encrypting File System files and certificates, save profile data for local users and define file types. The tool can also migrate access control lists, operating system data, application settings, data from local USB drives and computer settings.

The User State Migration Tool, however, cannot allow user interaction during migration, migrate applications, migrate applications to a new version or migrate application settings the user did not modify. In addition, it can't migrate OS settings, such as local printers, hardware settings, or permissions for shared folders, files or settings.

How does Microsoft USMT help with migrations from Windows XP to Windows 7?
If you're still using XP and want to install Windows 7, you have to migrate to Vista first. On one computer, it's not a difficult update to perform, but on lots of computers, admins should use Version 4.0 of the USMT to make migration easier. Use ScanState on the source computer, and install Windows 7 on the destination computer. Use LoadState on the destination computer, then reboot the Windows 7 computer.

Am I ready for a Windows 7 migration?
There are tons of features in Windows 7 that can be great for your organization, so the issue isn't whether you should migrate to Windows 7, but when. To see if you're ready for the migration, ask yourself: Is migrating to Windows 7 important to my organization? What options are there for migrating to Microsoft's OS? How will we handle the Windows 7 migration? Once you've answered these questions, you should be ready to migrate!

What does WAIK have to do with Microsoft USMT?
Want some more tips on getting started with USMT? Install the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK), perform this on a test computer -- even a virtual machine -- with a test user account first, and create a network share to store data.

How does USMT differ from using virtualization for Windows 7 migrations?
Even some virtual desktop vendors don't use virtualization software to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, despite early hopes that the release of Windows 7 would spur virtual desktop infrastructure adoption. Microsoft recommends that for large-scale upgrades from XP to Window 7, IT shops use Microsoft USMT 4.0, because it lets admins control which users, applications, files and settings get migrated. But note that the USMT only migrates one user at a time.

How can I find the right tool for a Windows 7 migration?
When you're deciding how to handle your Windows 7 migration, there are lots of tools to consider, and each works a little differently. Admins have to ask what they want to accomplish in their Windows 7 migration, and the answers will dictate which tools to use.

Microsoft's tool takes a lot of manual steps and some scripting, plus it won't preserve all your applications. But it's free, and it could be perfect for smaller deployments. USMT might be too tedious for most admins, so look at options such as LapLink PCmover and Prowess SmartDeploy too.

How can Microsoft USMT help move user accounts?
Migrating accounts from an old machine to a new one is hard. With the USMT, admins can migrate files and settings and is designed to work with unattended deployments, so IT pros can set up and migrate a whole machine without additional work.

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