Windows 7 for Support Professionals
|"Explains Microsoft's latest desktop in an fast, friendly, factual and sales-free manner, while never forgetting to keep it fun!"|
a two-day course by Mark Minasi, author of The Expert Guide to Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2
Barely two years after shipping Vista to a less-than-welcoming set of customers, Microsoft has apparently decided to essentially "wash the awful taste of Vista" out of those customers' mouths with yet another edition of their desktop operating system... Windows 7. XP's still nice — and they did extend support for it until 2014! — but for many of us, it's time to move to an OS that's better suited to the current state of the art for networking, central administration and easy deployment, as well as one that's built with today's hardware and security environments in mind.
All of that suggests that Windows 7 may offer opportunities for many — but not all — organizations, and so it's probably worthwhile learning enough about Windows 7 to first determine if it's right for your organization and then learn how to deploy, manage, and troubleshoot it. That's why we're offering this course: in just two days, folks currently working with XP and/or Vista can find out what Windows 7 offers, how it works, and how to keep it working... and even get a few chuckles in while doing it. To save time and maximize the depth of our coverage, this is a "delta" course that covers what's changed since Vista, so you won't have to sit through long explanations of parts of Windows that you've been working with since 1993. (Of course, if the idea of a delta course isn't optimal for you or your organization, then please take a look here for a couple of alternatives.)
Key Seminar Benefits
Sometimes it seems that Microsoft shakes up the user interface every new version of Windows mainly to get media attention and in the hopes of luring away a few Mac users. If you're one of the ones who (like us) saw Vista's Aero Glass as "pretty but not so witty," then Windows 7's Aero changes may surprise you. In this section, we briefly review how Windows 7's GUI can improve productivity.
Even the most die-hard Vista detractors have to admit that Vista wasn't all bad, and some of the best of the new Vista-related technologies are the vastly improved deployment tools that Microsoft first delivered in November of 2006. This section quickly reviews the Vista-era tools and explains which deployment tools have changed with Windows 7.
Over the years, Microsoft has experimented with different ways of letting your users store and organize their data. Windows 7 introduces two new concepts in the form of libraries (which you can think of as a sort of "My Documents" done better) and federated search (a tool to extend Explorer's UI to let you search not just your computer but other systems in your network and on the Web). If you choose to adopt Windows 7, then you should understand how these work and how to get the most out of them.
In October 2001, XP introduced the idea of "Software Restrictions Policies" (SRPs), a set of group policies aimed at letting administrators block users from running unauthorized applications. It wasn't a bad first try, but the software environment at the time — one wherein very few applications could be identified by their digital signatures — limited SRP's usefulness. As time's gone on, however, far more applications are signed, and so SRPs deserve a second look even in XP shops. With Windows 7, however, Microsoft introduces a significantly improved update on SRPs that they've called "Applocker." This section explains the differences between SRP and Applocker and suggests how each can assist your organization in controlling the range of apps that you allow to run on your desktops.
Application compatibility problems was the number one reason why some organizations passed on Vista. Some found that home-grown or third-party software that they relied upon to get their jobs done just plain wouldn't work under Vista, which made staying with XP seem not only like the cheaper alternative, but the smarter one as well. As customers made their irritation with Vista's compatibility woes painfully clear to Microsoft, Redmond worked hard to make Win 7 more legacy-app-friendly than Vista. But some apps may still run into compatibility problems, and this section shows you the tools (free ones!) that you can use to try to solve those problems.
ACT and shims are great tools, but in some cases the only cure for an app that'll only run under XP is, well, to run it under XP. To that end, Microsoft offers an array of tools like their APP-V and MED-V virtualization products that let you run almost any XP app under Vista or Windows 7... but they cost money, and you're not coming to our class just to hear us tell you to spend more money. What Windows 7 does offer in the way of XP virtualization is an improved and built-in version of Microsoft's desktop virtualization manager dubbed "Windows Virtual PC" (WVPC), and a fully licensed pre-built XP SP3 virtual machine. In this section you'll see how to set up WVPC and XP Mode (XPM), how you can extend it and how to use it to solve application compatibility problems.
The big change in Windows management tools came with Vista with things like the all-new Event Viewer and the Reliability Monitor, but Windows 7's not entirely bereft of new tools. In this section, you'll meet a few all-new management and monitoring tools, and see that Win 7 now includes some old Resource Kit favorites "in the box."
Vista and Server 2008 brought BitLocker, a tool that let you encrypt any or all of your internal hard disks. It slowed your drives down a bit, but ensured that if you left your laptop on an airplane then no one could peek at your data. With Windows 7, Microsoft has extended Bitlocker's job to enable you to use it to encrypt USB sticks and other portable data devices. Why do this? USB sticks worry many folks, as they fear that users might copy important company data onto a USB stick and then accidentally leave it where someone could find it and read that data. With BitLocker To Go, you can instruct one of your computers to only permit a user to copy data onto a USB stick if that USB stick's encrypted. That way, if the user loses the USB stick, then whoever finds it won't be able to read its data. This section explains how to make BitLocker To Go work, and what limitations it presents.
We wrap up our first day with a look at how Windows 7 changes two important security technologies — biometrics and User Account Control (UAC). In this section, we'll see how Windows now supports the notion of using fingerprints to logon, and how Microsoft's trying to make User Account Control a bit less annoying.
Like Windows 7 desktop, Server 2008 R2 comes in several flavors and requires a few choices, as well as offering a few of what Microsoft likes to call "better together" features, things in Server 2008 R2 that are essentially useless without Windows 7 clients, and vice versa. In this section, we briefly outline the versions of Server and highlight any upgrade considerations.
Windows 7 desktop and server use your disk in ways we've not seen before, with new in-the-box support of the VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) format for storing data and the ability to "boot VHDs natively," a concept that we'll explain in depth in this section. As you'll see, Microsoft may have to change the name of VHDs to remove "virtual," as Win 7/R2 use VHDs in ways that have nothing to do with virtual machines.
Windows 6 (that is, Vista and Server 2008) saw Microsoft introduce a number of technologies aimed at making IT run more smoothly in branch offices. Windows 7 and Server R2 add to those with BranchCache, a tool that enables Windows 7 Enterprise/Ultimate desktops to cooperatively cache incoming SMB and HTTP traffic. The basic idea is that if a bunch of people in your branch office all want to access the same file from the central office, then only the first two actually need to retrieve (and cache) the file over the WAN link — the others get it from the local systems that have already cached the data. Sounds simple, but actually making it work and controlling it can be a bit tricky, until you know what you'll get from this very detailed section.
In addition to the "big" networking-related things (BranchCache, DirectAccess and the like), Windows 7 includes a number of general networking changes.
The "NT" family of Windows has supported "auditing," — a security feature which enables Windows to record security-related activity on a particular computer in that computer's Security log. Enabling and tracking Windows logs, however, is often something that we don't do, however, because it's somewhat difficult to make useful. Windows 6 simplified things a bit when it introduced event log centralization and easily-scheduled event log archiving, and Windows 7 makes things a bit more useful with four changes to how and what you can audit. In this section, you'll see how to make use of these new auditing capabilities.
As you may know, PowerShell is Microsoft's new command-line shell for controlling and scripting Windows administrative tools. In this latest Windows, Microsoft actually mandated PowerShell support throughout the operating system, which means that it's time to learn at least a bit of PowerShell. The fact that there are number of things in Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 that you simply cannot do in any other way than with a PowerShell command is another good reason to know a bit of PowerShell, and so this section gets you ready for the "compulsory PowerShell work" with a simple introduction to Windows' new command line.
A Note on This Course and its Companion Windows Server 2008 R2 Course
Because Microsoft is releasing a new version of both their desktop operating system and their server OS at the same time, we offer not only this course but also one focused on the new Windows Server 2008 R2 product. Because many of the changes to the overall operating system affected both the server version of the OS and the desktop version of the OS, those common changes appear both in the desktop seminar and the server seminar; they're Day Two of the desktop seminar and Day One of the server seminar. Thus, any clients wanting to learn the contents of both two-day seminars need only attend three, rather than four, days (at, of course, a reduced cost).
The class works around a lecture/demonstration format driven by a PowerPoint presentations. Every attendee gets a printed copy of the PowerPoints. You'll see Windows 7 run through its paces in a series of interesting and explanatory demonstrations.
We offer this class as a public seminar occasionally; you can view the current schedule www.minasi.com/pubsems.htm. But you needn't wait — Mark can come to your organization to teach it on-site. On-site classes offer you the flexibility to lengthen or shorten the class, add hands-on labs, modify the course's focus and zero in on your group's specific needs.
Please contact our office at (757) 426-1431 between 12 Noon-5 Eastern time or email Assistant@Minasi.com to discuss scheduling and fees.
As noted in the course objectives, this course assumes a knowledge of Windows Vista and focuses only on what's new in Windows 7. Now, understand that you can probably learn what you need to support Windows 7 in this course, but if you'd like a bit of "Vista catchup," then permit us to offer a couple of suggestions:
Thanks for looking our course over; we look forward to assisting you in building Windows 7 support expertise!