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Windows 7 Migration: Step 3 - Prepare Applications

Created: 22 Feb 2010 • Updated: 01 Nov 2010
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Step 3: Prepare Applications

Applications that are not installed on the base Windows 7 image will need to be installed after the imaging process. Some of these applications will be installed as part of the migrations process and others might be installed later as needed. One major feature of Deployment Solution is the ability to deploy applications. It also works together with Wise SetupCapture and Symantec Workspace Virtualization (formerly Software Virtualization Solution) to package and virtualize applications. To prepare your applications for Windows 7 migration, you will:

  • Identify the applications supported on Windows 7
  • Test applications on Windows 7 and with each other to ensure compatibility
  • Remediate issues through policies, packaging, virtualization, or code changes

Identify The Applications Supported On Windows 7

A key step in this Migration to Windows 7 is to identify the business critical applications that will be used in the Windows 7 environment that are not included in the master image that will be deployed to each new Windows 7 computers. The applications to be identified in this section are those that will be installed after the Windows 7 image has been deployed. Identifying can be a big task with the sheer number of different applications in the environment.

Classification of Applications - To help identify which applications need to be prepared for installation on Windows 7, classify them using the following list:


  • Critical
  • Important
  • Useful
  • Not important


  • Commercial Applications
    • Applications with broad distribution and current development by ISV
    • ISV's are working hard to update their applications
    • These applications are well represented in Microsoft Mitigation (ACT, Shims, and Community)
  • Legacy Applications
    • Were developed by ISV's
    • Often business-critical
    • Not as well represented in MS Mitigation or community
  • Custom Applications
    • Developed in house
    • Business Critical and represent unique challenges
    • Not represented by most MS Mitigation (other than detection). Not represented in community
    • Hard-coded paths in applications (Temp, My Documents, Documents and Settings, and Applications with platform specific drivers)

Refer to the list of installed applications you generated in Step 1. It is important to verify which of these applications will run successfully on Windows 7. Consult each software vendors support resources to validate support for that platform. It also might be useful to attempt to install and run each application on a test Windows 7 system to verify that basic functionality for each application is available.

Test Applications On Windows 7 And With Each Other To Ensure Compatibility

Much of this step will need to be done either through research via resources available by third-party software vendors or by manually testing software with a Windows 7 workstation. Many commercial applications have updates that are fully compatible with Windows 7; however some software has not been updated and might have compatibly issues.

After you have identified which applications will need to be installed on Windows 7, you can begin testing them for compatibility. First, check the software vendor website for information concerning Windows 7 readiness for each application. We recommend that you test the software in a lab environment.

Software incompatibility is usually caused by one the following:

  • Operating System requirement
  • Hardcoded path
  • Administrator rights required
  • Class Identifier (CLSID) registration in the registry
  • File copy (rights)
  • Applications with platform specific drivers

Be aware of these issues as you test each application. If an application fails, the reported error messages may correspond to one of these issues.

Manual Application Test - Follow these steps to test each application on a clean Windows 7 image (these steps may be different depending on the application requirements):

  1. Revert to your Windows 7 clean image. Use the base image snapshot taken in step 2.
  2. Install the application.
    1. If requested for permission, click Permit.
    2. If the applicatoin fails with no request for permission, right-click the installer and choose Run as Administrator.
  3. If errors are reported:
    1. Right-click the installer and click Properties.
    2. Open the Compatibility tab.
    3. Enable Run this program in compatibility mode.
  4. When the install has completed, launch the application.
  5. If the application does not launch:
    1. Right-click the application icon and click Properties.
    2. Open the Compatibility tab. c. Enable Run this program in compatibility mode.
  6. Verify the application performs properly. Perform use case tests to validate functionality.
  7. If the application fails to function correctly, remediate the issues as explained in the next section.

Some applications will install and function correctly when they are the only software installed on a clean system. It is important to test groups of software packages that would commonly be used together on a single system to identify potential risks. Install various combinations of software that will be used in your production systems. It is much easier to deal with these issues now rather than later in the migration process.

Application installation with Deployment Solution - After you have validated that an application will install and function properly on Windows 7, you will need to create an installation package and job. Command-line parameters will be needed to perform an automated silent install using Deployment Server. Most software already comes with a method to install it silently, or with a silent installation answer file. Consult with the application vendor to find command line options for installation. Most MSI files will accept the following command: MSIEXEC.EXE /I "installer.msi" /QN.

More information can be found at

Before you are ready to install an application using a Deployment Solution Job, you must be able to:

  1. Copy the installer file, or a folder containing installer files, to the client computer.
  2. Run a batch script or command.
  3. Make sure the application installs without interaction.

Move the installation file or folder to the Deployment Server's eXpress share. You might want to consider creating a folder in the root of the eXpress share that will contain all software installation packages. From the Deployment Console create a new job. Add a "Distribute Software" task to the job. Browse out to the main executable or MSI file of the installation package. If the installation package uses multiple files, check the box Copy all directory files. Add the command line parameters under Additional command-line switches. Validate the software installation job by running it on a few Windows 7 test systems.

Remediate Issues Through Policies, Packaging, Virtualization, Or Code Changes

As mentioned earlier, Deployment Solution is integrated with Wise SetupCapture and Symantec Workspace Virtualization. These can both be used to help remediate issues with software installation. If the application is not business critical then you may want to wait for the software vendor to update the application to be Windows 7 ready.

Wise SetupCapture is a solution that will create an MSI package from a software install. SetupCapture will track any changes made to the system. It will then compile the changes into an MSI file that can be used to deploy the application. Additional information can be found in Altiris KB Article 20052.

Symantec Workspace Virtualization also tracks changes made to the system, but it does not create an MSI package. It instead creates a VSA file which is considered an application layer. When a VSA layer is activated on a client system it appears that the software is installed and it is fully functional. However, files and registry keys have not been actually committed to the Windows operating system. Additional details can be found in Altiris KB Article 40553.

Return to: Windows 7 Migration: Introduction