On Day two of MMS, Microsoft continued to announce more products.
System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP2
SCCM 2007 SP2 will ship 90 days after Windows 7. This puts it into Q1 2010 and for anyone planning widespread deployment of Window 7 this is a product where the beta needs to be used to plan your full scale deployment.
One of the problems that Microsoft has suffered from in the past, albeit self inflicted, is overly optimistic statements about application compatibility with new versions of its Operating Systems. Despite tools such as the Application Compatibility Toolkit being available for several years now, few companies seem to have been able to master how to use if effectively.
With SCCM 2007 SP2, Microsoft has made significant enhancements to ensure that operating deployment is not only easier but more likely to succeed. The first task is to see if a machine can be upgraded via a complete audit. Once audited, the status of each machine is shown in its hardware readiness status. As Microsoft has kept the hardware requirements the same as for Windows Vista, this should mean that the bulk of machines inside a corporate network can be upgraded with little or no hardware change.
Once you know if applications and computers are compatible and capable of running Windows 7, you need to update them. One of the big problems with updating machines is that they have to be turned on first. If not, they can easily be missed off the update process. This is where Microsoft has been working with Intel Intel vPro allows computers that are turned off to be turned on via the network, Now you can do that over wireless. This means that any computer registered inside the company can be updated even if switched off.
To speed up installation there is a new task sequencer that allows you to determine how the deployment of Windows 7 will work. From here you can build a complete workflow including deciding which applications will be upgraded and, where required, removed as part of the upgrade.
Of course all of this is the easy part of an upgrade and deployment. The hardest part is the maintenance of user data. Historically that has meant having a lot of spare disk space in the datacentre to copy the content of a computer into. Once the machine has been upgraded, the data is copied back. This is a slow process so with SCCM 2007 SP2 you will be able to leave user data on the local machine. As part of the upgrade process you can determine where the user data is, even when scattered all over the drive, and ensure that it is not overwritten.