A. Many organizations are looking at migrating from Windows XP (and Vista) to Windows 7, and one challenge can be application compatibility with Windows 7. There are several solutions for application compatibility, including application shims, updating the applications, and Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V, the enterprise version of XP Mode with centralized management and image distribution). Sometimes solutions like MED-V might not be available, though, and the entire XP desktop, including profile, applications, and data, just needs to be made available under a new Windows 7 OS.

Microsoft has released a beta of Microsoft P2V Migration for Software Assurance, a solution built on the disk2vhd Sysinternals tool and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (which can also integrate with SCCM). The solution:

  • Captures the entire XP (or later) desktop to a VHD.
  • Deploys the new Windows 7 OS.
  • Restores the XP VHD and related hotfixes for full XP Mode functionality (including RemoteApp fixes).
  • Integrates the VM into the Windows 7 start menu so the applications that are installed in the XP OS show on the Windows 7 Start menu.

You can launch the applications that are installed in XP seamlessly from the Windows 7 Start menu, and the applications run on the Windows 7 desktop instead of a separate XP desktop. You can also elect to see the entire Windows XP desktop. You have a complete legacy OS environment running alongside your new Windows 7 environment.

It should be noted that this should be treated as a solution for particular cases and not a normal migration solution. You're capturing the entire Windows XP environment, which means you may end up with a VHD that's 50-80GB. In contrast, MED-V deployed XP images may only be 2GB. MED-V also has functionality that allows automatic URL redirection to the IE6 running in a MED-V-provided XP image, which isn't possible using the standard XP Mode functionality that this P2V migration solution relies on. So when would you use it?

  • You have users that have highly customized Windows XP environments and configurations that can't risk any disruption to their own environment.
  • Your XP installations have software for which the install media is no longer available, or have region-specific versions that can't be deployed centrally.

The solution can be downloaded from Microsoft. Once the P2V migration is installed on your Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) or System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) box, there will now be extra scripts available. During the installation, extra tools, such as disk2vhd and hotfixes, are downloaded, ready for integration with the new task sequences.

P2V Migration

The P2V process relies on the new ZTIRetro.wsf script, which has both /STATECAPTURE and /STATERESTORE modes that are used to capture and restore the XP legacy environment. Several scripts are added to MDT (and to SCCM through MDT integration) to automatically capture and restore using the P2V capabilities. However, you can add the P2V capabilities to other task sequences/templates by copying the command used to capture/restore. You get the command by looking at the Capture and Restore VHD tasks in the P2V-provided templates.

P2V Migration

There's a great video at on TechNet that talks more about the P2V Migration solution.