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Q.A. Testing Windows 7 Licensing

By lre ·
I am writing to inquire about how to handle Windows 7 licensing issues in our QA department. Much of our QA testing is automated and has worked well until the Vista / Windows 7 licensing scheme was introduced.
Prior to Windows Vista we configured test PCs using our Windows XP volume license key. The exact process we followed was to install Windows XP and updates onto a test PC. We would then install other applications required for us to test our product.. Once we had configured the test PC we would then create a Norton Ghost image of that machine. Because we have multiple test machines with exactly the same hardware we were then able to load this ghost image onto any of these machines. Our systems could be loaded quickly and we were not violating the Microsoft license agreement.
When Microsoft changed its licensing scheme our QA process ceased to function correctly. For Windows Vista we had to create an image of the configured OS for every machine even though we had identical hardware. This has increased our cost for labor and data storage dramatically. For example; if we have 20 identical machines we needed to create 20 images instead of the single image required with the XP licensing scheme. I?ve actually simplified the numbers but because of other requirements we actually will need to create hundreds of images with slightly different setups. I believe that the only volume license that was available to us for Vista was the Business version. For the other versions of Vista we had to rely on our MSDN subscriptions but of course this didn?t solve the one machine one image problem.
Now that Windows 7 has been released we have been trying to figure out what we can do to avoid having to manually generate an image for each machine. I tried going through our vendor, CDW for a solution to this problem and I was told that Microsoft was suggesting the use of the sysprep utility to solve our problem. One of our QA engineers has been experimenting with this for a few weeks. What I am told is that after we create a syspreped ghost image and try to configure the test PC that Windows 7 goes through a ?System Performance Test? which, on our test systems is taking over 15 minutes. I believe there were other issues that make this solution unusable.
I have scoured the internet and MSDN for a solution to our problem but only find others asking similar questions. Whatever the licensing cost I?m sure it would be minimal compared to the process of manually configuring and storing a huge number of images.

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Have you all checked out the AIK

by IC-IT In reply to Q.A. Testing Windows 7 Li ...

Automated Installation Kit and the Deployment Toolkit?
There may be a learning curve, but it rocks.
Here is a link to a nice article.

http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles_tutorials/Deploying-Windows-7-Part1.html

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Windows 7 AIK

by lre In reply to Have you all checked out ...

I take it you are using this in a QA environment? One of our engineers looked into sysprep recently but discovered a significant lag time while Windows went looking for all of the hardware. Do you know if the holds true for the AIK? We may switch OS images 10 times per day on a singal machine and this delay would be a show stopper. I'm in the process of reading the docs but would like the opinion of someone who actually uses it in a QA lab. I'd appreciate any info you could offer.

Thanks

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