Identify hardware requirements
The fact “identifying hardware requirements” is a separate skill being measured (aka ‘exam objective’) clearly indicates this is a topic you need master for the exam. The number of different Windows Vista editions and features make this a bit more complicated than with previous Windows versions.
The minimum supported hardware requirements for Windows Vista are:
- 800 MHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
- 512MB RAM
- 15 GB free disk space on a disk of at least 20 GB
- SVGA video card that supports DirectX 9 graphics
The above is the bare minimum, and will not allow Vista to run smoothly and will disable certain features. The following web page lists the recommended system requirements: Recommended System Requirements. The main difference is the 1 GHz CPU, and for Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate the 1GB RAM, 40GB hard drive, and 128 MB RAM WDDM compatible video card. In reality, you will want to go way beyond the minimum and the recommended requirements.
Windows Vista Editions
Following is an overview of the Windows Vista editions their features and differences.
Windows Vista Starter
This is a cheap stripped down edition of Windows Vista available only as an OEM version pre-installed on cheap computers that are sold in 139 developing countries with emerging markets. It is not available in countries such as the US, the EU, Australia, or Japan. Limitation of Windows Vista Starter include running on 32-bit processors only, it does not allow incoming network connections, and only three applications can be used simultaneously.
Windows Vista Home Basic
This edition is suitable for home users who need minimal functionality such as reading email and browsing the Internet, and no fancy stuff. It does not include Aero, and supports only a single physical processor and a maximum of 8 GB or RAM.
Windows Vista Home Premium
This edition is designed for the more demanding home users who want more than the basic functionality in Windows Vista Home Basic. This includes additional multimedia features such as Windows Aero, Windows Flip 3D navigation, Windows Media Center, HD support for Windows Movie Maker and Photo management application. As well as features related to storage, such as the DVD Writer, File system encryption, and Scheduled and Network Backup.
Windows Vista Home Premium also introduces improved integrated operating system search functionality and is the minimum required Home edition for Windows Tablet PCs with digital pen and touch screens support.
Windows Vista Home Premium too supports only a single physical processor, but increases the maximum supported RAM to 16 GB.
Windows Vista Business
This edition is designed to meet the needs of users in professional work environments and can be used as a client in a Windows domain. In addition to the features included in Windows Vista Home Basic, it includes Windows Aero and Windows Flip 3D navigation. It does not include the Windows Media Center. It also supports the integrated operating system search functionality, Scheduled and Network Backup, and can run on Windows Tablet PCs like Windows Vista Home Premium.
Additionally, it includes:
- IIS web server
- Remote Desktop
- Windows Fax and Scan
- Offline Files and Folders
- Previous Versions support. (uses volume shadow copy technology to store a "point-in-time" copy of changed files on a periodic basis.)
- Group Policy support
- Encrypting File System (EFS)
- Corporate Roaming
- Complete PC Backup and Restore (backup and restore entire system instead of just files and folders)
Windows Vista Business supports a maximum of two physical processors and 128 GB RAM.
Windows Vista "N" Editions
The Windows Vista Home Basic and Business Editions also exist as an “N” Edition. These are specifically created to comply with anti-trust agreements in the European Union. The Windows Vista Home Basic “N” and Windows Vista Business “N” Editions do not include several Windows media applications including Windows Media Player and Windows Movie Maker. I recommend avoiding these special editions whenever you can.
Windows Vista Enterprise
The Enterprise edition is designed to meet the needs of large organizations and is available only to Microsoft Software Assurance (SA) volume licensing customers (hence not available in retail versions). It includes everything in the Windows Vista Business edition and the following features:
Windows BitLocker™ Drive Encryption, which can protect data in case the hard drive or entire computer is stolen. It uses hardware-based data encryption technology to encrypt the disk, and stores the key on either a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip in the computer or an external USB memory device.
Advanced application compatibility for previous Windows version ‘and’ for UNIX systems. Yes, UNIX. The Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications (SUA) allows you to run UNIX applications unchanged on a Windows Vista Enterprise system. You can also run up to 4 additional installations of Windows Vista Enterprise itself inside Virtual PC on the Windows Vista Enterprise system.
Full multi-language support, which means all the available languages for the interface are available in a single package. This allows global organizations to deploy the same Windows Vista installation to different countries and provide multiple languages to accommodate for different users.
Windows Vista Ultimate
The Windows Vista Ultimate edition has it all. It includes all the features from Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Enterprise (so Business too) and additionally DVD ripping support.
A 64-bit version is available for all editions of Windows Vista except Starter. The Windows Vista Ultimate DVDs include the 64-bit version, but for the others you need to specifically order the 64-bit version if you want it. The 64-bit editions of Windows Vista also support an additional amount of memory beyond the standard 4 GB for 32-bit editions. The amount supported differs per edition:
- 64-bit Home Basic 8 GB
- 64-bit Home Premium 16 GB
- 64-bit Ultimate, Business, Enterprise 128 GB
You can purchase an upgrade license for Windows XP 64-bit to a 64-bit Windows Vista edition, but you will have to perform a clean installation and manually transfer data and settings and reinstall applications.
Dual Processors Support
Windows Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate support twophysical processors. The Home editions can support dual or even quad-core processors, but are limited to only a single physical processor.
Perform a clean installation.
Performing a clean installation of a new Windows version is usually a wise choice, but depending on your current Windows version, it may be the only available way to ‘switch’ to Window Vista. For example, you cannot upgrade Windows 95, 98, ME, NT4, or 64-bit versions of 2000/XP to Windows Vista. There are several ways to start a clean installation:
- Boot from installation CD/DVD
- Start setup.exe from within a current installation of Windows
- Install from network share
- Imaging / automated installation (covered in separate TechNotes)
Once Setup is started, it will go through several different phases:
1. Windows PE
- This phase starts by launching Setup and booting the computer in Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE), which is basically a lightweight version of Windows.
- On the first screen, you need to select a language, time and currency format, keyboard and input method, and then click Next.
- At this point, you can continue by pressing the Install Now button, or you can choose the Repair your computer option.
- After pressing Install Now, you can enter the 25-character product key. Optionally, you can change the setting to Automatically activate Windows online, which is enabled by default.
- Accept license agreement and click Next.
- Choose the installation type Custom (Advanced) and select the target disk and volume. At this point you can also repartition the hard disk using the Drive Options (advanced) option. And, in case Windows Vista does not support your hard drive or controller by default, use the Load Driver option to load a driver from removable media.
2. Installing Windows
The Installing Windows phase is when the actual installation takes place, using the following steps:
- Copying Windows Files
- Expanding Files
- Installing Features
- Installing Updates
- Completing Installation
The computer automatically reboots during this phase.
3. Set Up Windows
During this final phase, you need to:
- Configure an initial user account by providing a user name, password, and picture
- Assign a name to the computer and select a desktop background
- Configure Windows Update and security settings
- Set the date, time and time zone
After this, the installation will be complete and Windows Vista will prompt you to logon with the user account you created during the final phase. Windows will also run performance checks to determine the Performance Score value, which in turn can influence which features (like Aero) will be enabled
Upgrade to Windows Vista from previous versions of Windows
The main advantage of upgrading the operating is that – if everything goes well – you don’t need to reinstall supported applications, settings, and data. There is a reason a ‘clean installation’ is called ‘clean’. After an upgrade, your system likely contains many artifacts from the previous Windows version and application that were installed and uninstalled in the past. Upgrading also requires additional disk space and you must start Windows Vista setup from within the Windows XP installation you want to upgrade. Instead of starting with the WinPE phase, Setup will start in the Downlevel phase instead. Besides migrating settings and Windows components, the rest of the process is similar to a clean installation.
The following upgrade paths exist for an in-place upgrade to Windows Vista:
Windows XP Home --> any Windows Vista edition
Windows XP Professional --> Windows Vista Business or Ultimate edition
Windows XP Tablet PC --> Windows Vista Business or Ultimate edition
Windows XP Media Center --> Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate edition
Just as with a clean install, you need to make sure the system meets the minimum system requirements. To get an indication whether your system will be able to run Windows Vista and whether applications and drivers will be supported, you should run the Upgrade Advisor. The Upgrade Advisor can be started from the installation DVD welcome screen, or can be downloaded from the Microsoft site. It checks the current system for compatibility with Windows Vista, and provides the result in a report listing possible required hardware upgrades and a recommendation for a suitable edition of Vista, if any. This is useful to determine whether a system running Windows XP can be upgraded to Windows Vista, but also to check if the system can support a higher edition of Windows Vista.
Although data and settings will be retained if the upgrade is successful, you should always perform a full backup of the current Windows installation before starting the upgrade.
Upgrade from one edition of Windows Vista to another edition
Windows Vista includes a feature called Windows Anytime Upgrade, which allows you to upgrade from one Vista edition to another. This may be useful when you need additional features, such multimedia features and the ability to join a Windows domain. However, there are several limitations. The following upgrade paths are available using Windows Anytime Upgrade:
Windows Vista Home Basic --> Windows Vista Home Premium
Windows Vista Home Basic --> Windows Vista Ultimate
Windows Vista Home Premium --> Windows Vista Ultimate
Windows Vista Business --> Windows Vista Ultimate
You cannot perform an upgrade from a 32-bit version of Windows Vista to a 64-bit version of Windows Vista. Windows Anytime Upgrade can be accessed through the System and Maintenance applet in the Control Panel or online at the Microsoft site. You need to purchase an upgrade license first, and then install the additional files from the installation DVD (which contains all relevant Vista editions if it has the Upgrade Anytime logo).
Windows Easy Transfer provides a convenient method to transfer files and settings from a computer running Windows XP or Windows Vista to a computer running Windows Vista. You can also use the Easy Transfer Wizard on Windows 2000 computers, but it will only allow you to migrate files and folders, not settings. The following can be included when transferring from XP or Vista:
- User Accounts
- Files and folders
- E-mail messages, settings, and contacts
- Windows settings
- Program data files and settings
- Internet settings and Favorites
You can move these files and settings from the source computer to the target computer in several different ways:
- Pulling the files and settings from the source over a direct connection, for example a USB cable (like the Easy Transfer Cable from Microsoft)
- Over the network, directly from source to target or by saving to an intermediate network share
- Saving to and loading from an external hard drive.
- Saving to and loading from a CD, DVD, or other type of removable media
You can start Windows Easy Transfer in Windows Vista by choosing it from System Tools in the Accessories folder in All Programs in the Start menu. Or, from the Windows Welcome Center in the System and Maintenance control panel applet. On Windows XP, you can run it from the Vista installation DVD, but you can also transfer the required files to a network share or removable media and than use migwiz.exe to launch it. If you use an Easy Transfer Cable to transfer files from a Windows XP PC, you must first install Windows Easy Transfer.
Using the Easy Transfer wizard requires administrative rights. If you save the files and settings to a network share, hard drive, or removable storage, you can protect it with a password.
Microsoft released a public beta version of the Windows Easy Transfer Companion, an additional utility that allows you to transfer entire applications from a computer running Windows XP SP2 to a computer running Windows Vista, via an Easy Transfer Cable or network connection.
User State Migration Tool (USMT)
The User State Migration Tool (USMT) is a more advanced set of utilities that allow administrators to automate the process of transferring data and settings to clean installations of Windows Vista. An advantage of the USMT is that it consists of command-line utilities, to save and load files and settings, which can be used in scripts to automate large-scale deployments. It includes several customizable .xml files for more control than the Easy Transfer utility.
USMT includes two executables, Scanstate.exe to save settings and files on the source computer to the store called USMT3.mig, and Loadstate.exe to load the settings and files on the target machine from the store. You should run both as an administrator or else only the current logged on user is migrated and several settings and files would be skipped.
If the destination computer is running Windows Vista, you should specify MigUser.xml and MigApp.xml when using Scanstate.exe and again when using Loadstate.exe. For example:
scanstate \\fileserver\mystore /i:miguser.xml /i:migapp.xml
loadstate \\fileserver\mystore /i:miguser.xml /i:migapp.xml
You can modify the migration xml files to add/change migration rules, or you can create a custom xml file with a different name. The rules in these migration files allow you to exclude settings, files, and portions of components. If you want to exclude certain applications or Windows components entirely, you can generate and modify a Config.xml file, without actually creating the store, by using the /genconfig option:
scanstate /i:migapp.xml /i:miguser.xml /genconfig:config.xml
The above will create a Config.xml file in the current directory, which you can modify to your needs. The Config.xml file uses a simple format in which you can a set a ‘migrate’ option to ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for entire Windows components and applications. After that, use the /config option for Loadstate when loading the store on the target computer:
loadstate \\fileserver\mystore /config:config.xml /i:miguser.xml /i:migapp.xml
The Check out the following page at the Microsoft.com site for a Sample Config.xml file.
If the target machine is a Windows XP computer, you should also include /i:Migsys.xml and /targetxp in the scanstate and loadstate examples above.
You can encrypt the store by using the /encrypt option for Scanstate.exe and specify a key as either a file or plain text password by using the /key option. When loading the store with Loadstate.exe, use the /decrypt option and specify the key again. For example:
scanstate \\fileserver\mystore /i:miguser.xml /i:migapp.xml /encrypt /key:yadayada
loadstate \\fileserver\mystore /i:miguser.xml /i:migapp.xml /decrypt /key:yadayada
USMT 3.0 migrates Access Control Lists on files and folders but does not migrate shared folder permissions. You need to recreate the shared folders on the target computer manually. EFS files and certificates can be migrated automatically to computers running Windows Vista by using the /efs:copyraw option.
By default, all users are migrated. You can change this behavior by using the following command line options for the Loadstate.exe command:
/eu – Exclude a user
/eul – Exclude users based on last login time, specified in nr of days or date.
/iu – Include a user
The /iu options is only useful when you exclude users and want to make exceptions to include certain users because. By default, all users are included so there is no need to explicitly include users. You can use the /eu and /iu options multiple times and use wildcards in the names. For example:
loadstate \\fileserver\mystore /i:miguser.xml /i:migapp.xml /eu:User1 /eu:Admin*
The above is just a subset of the options available for Scanstate.exe and Loadstate.exe. For example, you can also specify domain account, move them to a different domain, for a complete listing see the Scanstate Syntax and LoadState Syntax pages at Microsoft.com or better: use the commands.
USMT can also migrate the settings of several applications, including Microsoft Office, Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Project, Apple iTunes, Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Photoshop, FireFox, and WinZip. To migrate settings for the supported applications, you need to install those applications on the target system before using Loadstate.exe. For a complete list of the files and the OS and applications settings USMT 3.0 can or does not migrate, check out the following article on the Microsoft site:
What Does USMT 3.0 Migrate?
You can choose to run Windows Vista in addition to one or more other operating systems on the same computer. To do this, you need to install Windows Vista to a separate partition, preferably on a separate hard disk. If you would performing a clean install on a partition that already contains another installation of Windows the latter will be renamed to Windows.old. The following are important to keep in mind when setting up a multi-boot Windows installation:
- Always install the oldest Windows version first. So if you set up a multi-boot installation between Windows XP and Windows Vista on a new computer, install Windows XP first, and than install Windows Vista on another partition.
- You need to install applications for each OS separately; they cannot share a Program Files folder.
- If you are going to dual boot with an older version of Windows that doesn’t support NTFS, make sure you don’t convert that partition to NTFS and leave it a FAT/FAT32
- The same thing applies for Dynamic Disks.
- Files that are encrypted or compressed under Vista may not be accessible by older version of Windows.
For those who have a limited amount of computers and want to install Windows Vista for studying, should consider installing it in Virtual PC instead of using multi-boot. In general, multi-boot is something you should try to avoid.