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How to evaluate a Windows Vista test environment

Before you launch a full Vista deployment, it's important to analyze your Vista pilot deployment test results.

Having assisted in performing Vista pilot deployments for a few clients, I can tell you that there will come a point in the pilot deployment program when the help desk phones will stop ringing. At this point it is tempting to assume that the pilot program is a success, and to move forward with the full-blown deployment. But doing so would be a big mistake.

Before you move into the full-scale deployment, take a moment to evaluate the pilot deployment. First, review the Vista-related help desk calls that have been made since the pilot deployment program began. If large numbers of calls were made about the same issues, then you should see if there is something you can do to prevent those issues from occurring when the full-blown deployment takes place. If an issue can't be prevented, then at least educate the users and the support staff about it ahead of time. This will greatly reduce the number of calls that the help desk receives.

One more thing. Before moving forward, talk to the program participants. Remember that most of them are power users, and there may be issues they have had to work around themselves and not told you about. Ask them if they are having any problems and if they know of any reason why Vista shouldn't be deployed to the rest of the company. As an administrator, it's easy to get a superiority complex, but I have found that power users can provide a wealth of valuable information in situations like these. They are computer literate, and they experience the same types of situations as most casual users, so they can often tell you about potential problems and offer solutions.

How to handle your Vista migration

Step 1: How to handle your Vista migration
Step 2: Plan a pilot deployment program
Step 3: Decide on a deployment mechanism
Step 4: Train the support staff and the end users
Step 5: Assess the results of the pilot deployment program

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, has received Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional Award four times for his work with Windows Server, IIS and Exchange Server. He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities, and was once a network administrator for Fort Knox.

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