Windows 7 / Getting Started

Planning for the ACT

The ACT provides a way for you to create an inventory for your organization, including your installed applications, computers, and devices. It also enables you to collect compatibility data, to determine the impact of that data in your organization, and, finally, to create mitigation packages to fix the compatibility issues, when possible. The following list describes the three phases for effectively using the ACT in your organization:

  • Collecting data Before you can analyze your potential compatibility issues, you must first collect your organization's inventory and the associated compatibility issues.
  • Analyzing issues After collecting your inventory and associated compatibility data, you can organize and analyze your issues. This includes categorizing, prioritizing, setting your deployment status, and setting your application assessment to create customized reports.
  • Testing and mitigating issues After analyzing your compatibility issue reports, you can test your applications to determine whether the specified compatibility issues are actually problems within your organization. If you determine that the issues are valid, you can create mitigation packages to fix the issues by using the Compatibility Administrator. You can also use the other tools provided with the ACT-including the IECTT, the SAT, and the SUA tool-to determine additional issues and possible mitigation strategies.

Targeting Deployment

For greater control over your collected data, you should deploy DCPs to a small subset of computers based on specific groupings, such as location and department-for example, a DCP for users in the Human Resources department. This enables better categorization and analysis of an application throughout the organization.

If your organization already has a hardware asset inventory list, it is recommended that you sample each unique hardware configuration so that you can synchronize with the Microsoft Compatibility Exchange and obtain the relevant driver compatibility issues. If you do not have a comprehensive inventory, Microsoft recommends that you distribute the DCPs based on the factors described in Table below.

Deployment Considerations

Do you have a managed, unmanaged, or mixed environment?You categorize your organization as a managed environment, an unmanaged environment, or a mixed management environment through the following criteria:
  • Managed environment IT administrators strictly control and manage the application installation and usage based on need and the various divisions in the organization. In this situation, an IT administrator can deploy a DCP on a limited subset of computers for each department, based on known needs and requirements.
  • Unmanaged environment Users typically have administrator privileges on their computers and can install applications at their own discretion. Because users in an unmanaged environment can install any software they choose, you need to deploy your DCPs to more computers than you would if you were in a managed environment.
  • Mixed environment Your organization uses both managed and unmanaged environments, depending on an individual group's needs and administrative privileges.
How do you use specific applications in your organization?It is very important that you provide coverage for all applications required by users in your organization, but it's even more important that you provide coverage for your LOB applications. For the most complete coverage of application usage, you must do the following:
  • Consult with your local administrators, support engineers, and department heads to ensure that all applications are in use during the data collection process.
  • Ensure that "seasonal" applications are covered. For example, fiscal year accounting applications might be used only once a year.
  • Attempt to perform the data collection when few employee vacations are scheduled or at the beginning of the week to avoid weekends. Otherwise, you might have limited or incomplete results because of the decreased application usage.
In all cases, recruit willing participants that will be responsible for their team and applications and will report everything they find. User acceptance testing is critical.
Do you use role-based applications?Your organization may use role-based applications, which are applications that relate to job function and the role that a user performs within your organization. A common example is accountants (a financial role) and their finance-related applications. Reviewing application usage in conjunction with job function and roles enables better application coverage in your organization.
How do you distribute your applications in your organization?You can distribute applications in many ways within an organization- for example, by using Group Policy, IntelliMirror, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007, or a custom distribution method. Reviewing your software distribution system policies in conjunction with your application inventory enables better application coverage and narrows the deployment of your DCPs.
What is the geographic breakdown of your organization?You must consider the geographic distribution of your organization when planning for your DCP deployment (for example, if you have branches in North America, Asia, and Europe). You must then consider the application usage patterns across each geographic region. You must account for divisional applications, localized versions of applications, and applications specific to the geographic location and export restrictions. We recommend that you consult with technical and business leaders from each region to understand these differences.
What types of computers do you have in your organization and how are they used?Computer types and usage patterns can play an important role in your DCP deployment. The following sections describe some of the most common computer types and usage patterns:
  • Mobile and laptop computers Mobile users frequently work offline, occasionally synchronizing with the corporate network through either a LAN or virtual private network (VPN) connection. Because of the high possibility of a user going offline for long periods of time, you must consider the odds of the user being online for the DCP to be downloaded and installed, and then online again for the logged data to be uploaded.
  • Multiuser computers Multiuser computers are typically located in university computer labs, libraries, and organizations that enable job sharing. These computers are highly secure and include a core set of applications that are always available, as well as many applications that can be installed and removed as necessary. Because these computers typically have a basic set of applications assigned to users or computers, you can narrow the application coverage and usage to identify only a subset of client computers to receive the DCP.
  • AppStations/TaskStations AppStations running vertical applications are typically used for marketing, claims and loan processing, and customer service. TaskStations are typically dedicated to running a single application, such as on a manufacturing floor as an entry terminal or in a call center. Because both of these types of computers do not commonly allow users to add or to remove applications and might be designated for specific users and job roles, the application coverage and usage can be narrowed to identify a subset of client computers to receive the DCP.
  • Kiosks Kiosks are generally in public areas. These computers run unattended and are highly secure, generally running a single program by using a single-use account and automatic logon. Because these computers typically run a single application, the application coverage and usage can be narrowed to identify a subset of computers to receive the DCP.
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