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

Schedule of dates and cities   Course Objectives     Course Outline     Course Materials    Bring a Class to Your Site  About the Instructor

Course Objectives

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

  • Get independent analysis about Windows 7 from someone who's spent the past 25 years teaching, consulting and writing about Windows.  We're not here to sell you Windows 7, just to tell you what's good, bad, excellent and awful about the new Windows.  We're not regurgitating white papers or copying and pasting things from unverified Web sites, we're showing you what we've found by actually working with Windows 7 since November of 2008.
  • Become equipped to make the right choice between Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate, and between the 32-bit and 64-bit editions
  • Learn how Win 7's application compatibility tools can enable you to get those can't-make-'em-work-on-Vista apps to run reliably on Win 7
  • Grasp the strengths and weaknesses of XP Mode: its underlying virtual machine manager capability, new levels of OS integration, and licensing and support issues
  • Meet new management tools like Resource Monitor and Problem Steps Recorder and what they can do for you
  • Delve into Microsoft's answer to the "how do I control my data in a world where everyone's got USB sticks?" question with BitLocker To Go
  • Discover how the "Documents" folder has changed to a "library" folder and how it changes searching for and keeping track of documents easier
  • Find out how Win 7's PowerShell 2.0 tools work and why you've got to learn about some of them
  • Understand Windows 7's new disk layout so you can troubleshoot boot problems:  not only is boot.ini gone, but even finding the boot manager's tough if you don't know where to look
  • Master Win 7's new virtual storage support, including its native VHD-format support and its ability to boot a physical system from a virtual hard drive (a tool letting you roll out an image by simply XCOPYing it)
  • See how Applocker and Software Restriction Policies can let you control what apps your users can and can't run... and what it'll cost you
  • Understand what Win 7's new branch office caching technology "BranchCache" can do and know in detail how to set it up and manage it

Course Outline

  1. Introduction:  Windows 7 in Perspective

    After the wait between XP and Vista, Win 7's arrival a year and a half after Vista's release seems a mite, well, soon.  What motivated Microsoft to turn out another desktop OS so quickly was it simply Vista's failure in the marketplace, or is Windows 7 more than just "Mohave.NET?"  This section introduces Windows 7 and answers that question, as well as addressing what is probably the number one concern for anyone considering upgrading:  "how compatible is Windows 7?"

    1. Why a new Windows so soon?
    2. Client versions ("SKUs")
    3. Upgrade paths (sorry... none from XP)
    4. 32 or 64 bit? considerations
    5. Making the Win 7 Pro/Win 7 Enterprise choice
    6. Hardware compatibility and requirements
    7. Software compatibility

  2. A Quick Look at the New GUI:  Where'd They Hide the Tools this Time?

    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.

    1. What hardware do you need to get the GUI running?
    2. Quick arrangement:  Aero Snap
    3. Keeping track of multiple windows:  Aero Peek
    4. Blurring the data/application line:  jump lists ("where'd my Recent Items go?")
    5. The real productivity tool (the new keyboard shortcuts)

  3. What's New in Deploying Windows 7

    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.

    1. Review:  Win 7/Vista's new HAL, Windows' free Ghost-like tool, Windows' answer file tools
    2. Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) 2.0
    3. Windows PE moves to version 3.0
    4. ImageX upgrades
    5. Deployment's all-new tool:  the Deployment Image System Manager (DISM) replaces pkgmgr, intlcfg and peimg
      1. DISM goals: feature activation, image servicing
      2. Online versus offline behavior
      3. DISM examples
    6. Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT)
    7. WSIM changes
    8. WDS:  new multicasting, dynamic driver provisioning and VHD file format support

  4. Finding and Storing Things:  Libraries and Federated Search

    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. 

    1. Data organizing help:  keywords, group by, ratings
    2. Libraries explained
      1. A sort of "super folder"
      2. Much more comprehensive search-wise
    3. Search basics in Windows 7: XP's "index service" becomes the "Windows Search" service, but with important changes
    4. Federated search
      1. From the user's perspective: a new "search" option from Explorer
      2. Behind the scenes:  what you can search
      3. Creating/deploying search connectors

  5. Controlling Who Can Use Which Applications:  Applocker

    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.

    1. Applocker/SRP similarities
    2. Applocker/SRP differences
    3. Using Applocker audit/block settings for testing
    4. Moving Applocker policies from the lab to the enterprise
    5. What to do when you've "Applocked" yourself out
    6. Clearing Applocker settings
    7. Where Software Restriction Policies can be more useful than Applocker

  6. Solving Application Compatibility Problems with Windows 7

    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.

    1. Why do some apps run on XP and not Windows 7?  A look under the hood
    2. A smarter Windows:  understanding what a Windows "shim" is and how to use one to solve app compat problems
    3. The main tool:  the Application Compatibility (ACT) Toolkit 5.5
    4. Creating your own fixes
    5. Deploying fixes
    6. Why Windows 7 calls itself Windows 6.1
    7. And when all else fails...

  7. Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode:  The Ultimate Compatibility Fix

    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.  

    1. Windows Virtual PC overview
    2. New to VPC:  how virtual machines (VMs) can interact with the Windows 7 desktop
    3. XP Mode specifics
    4. XP Mode pros and cons
    5. Installing legacy apps to run under XPM
    6. Creating other virtual machines

  8. Windows 7's New Management and Monitoring Tools

    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."  

    1. Resource Monitor (sort of a Sysinternals Process Monitor "lite")
    2. Greening it up: using Powercfg to monitor energy savings and suggest new ways to save energy
    3. Problem Steps Recorder simplifies troubleshooting
    4. Klist comes to Win 7 (and Server 2008 R2)
    5. Display Color Calibration Tool (dccw.exe)
    6. The Action Center:  provider of security advice, blue screen tracking, and the "mute button" for system tray annoyances

  9. BitLocker To Go:  Encryption for Portable Devices

    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. 

    1. BitLocker changes in Windows 7
    2. BitLocker To Go overview and limitations
    3. Encrypting a USB stick
    4. Decrypting a USB stick
    5. Forcing systems to require BitLocker To Go

  10. Windows 7 Security Changes

    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.

    1. Windows 7's new Biometric Framework overview
    2. Devices supported
    3. Hardware-specific support code:  registering fingerprints
    4. Using biometrics for logons
    5. Blocking biometrics with group policies
    6. User Account Control (UAC) and Windows 7
    7. UAC's under-the-hood changes
      1. Auto-elevation is now possible for a subset of applications
      2. One very important new setting makes UAC less annoying
    8. Tweaking UAC under Windows 7
  11. Server Overview

    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.

    1. Hardware issues:  64 bit is it
    2. Server versions:  can you avoid Enterprise in 2008 R2?
    3. Upgrade paths
    4. Virtual licensing considerations

  12. New Storage:  Virtual, Virtual, Virtual...

    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.

    1. New disk layout: the "unlettered drive"
    2. BCDEDIT background:  remember, boot.ini's gone!
    3. Implications for new disk layout and Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 deployment
    4. Mirror booting supported in Windows 7 client
    5. Booting from VHD explained and examined
    6. Native VHD support in detail:  creating VHDs, populating them, attaching/detaching
    7. Getting images onto VHDs in the first place
    8. Advanced boot-from-VHD:  run Windows from a handful of files, step by step!
    9. BCDEDIT revisited:  doing the boot surgery for boot-from-VHD
    10. Can't [locate] the drive?  BCDEDIT troubleshooting
    11. Optical disk support via "isoburn"
    12. Changes to Windows Backup
    13. What's new in Hyper-V server in R2 (beyond the simple virtual storage stuff)

  13. BranchCache:  WAN Caching for SMB and HTTP

    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.

    1. BranchCache overview
      1. Protocols cached: SMB and HTTP
      2. Intended to save WAN bandwidth to branch offices
      3. Driven by latency
      4. SMB caching different than HTTP
      5. Caching can happen either on Win 7 desktops or Server 2008 R2 servers
    2. Setting up a distributed HTTP BranchCache
    3. Configuring BranchCache systems via command-line
    4. Configuring BranchCache systems via group policies
    5. Setting up a hosted HTTP BranchCache
    6. Configuring clients and the host server
    7. Setting up SMB caching
    8. Monitoring BranchCache
    9. BranchCache tuning parameters

  14. Windows 7 Networking Changes

    In addition to the "big" networking-related things (BranchCache, DirectAccess and the like), Windows 7 includes a number of general networking changes.

    1. Wireless UI changes
    2. The "network troubleshooter"
    3. HomeGroups
    4. Rearranged Network and Sharing Center
    5. Solving the "I can't connect to XP" issue
    6. Changes to Network Access Protection (NAP)
    7. How often don't you use Kerberos?  NTLM blocking policies

  15. Auditing Gets a Lot More Specific

    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.

    1. Auditable items increase from 9 to 54
    2. Fine-tune what you audit with auditpol
    3. Track a person's actions more easily with global SACLs
    4. "Reason for failure" reports answer the question, "exactly why couldn't I access that object?" 

  16. PowerShell 2.0 for Windows Admins: A Quick Introduction

    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.

    1. Why PowerShell?
    2. PowerShell components: cmdlets, scripts, aliases, "the pipeline" and modules
    3. Enabling PowerShell on Windows 7
    4. Working with PowerShell
    5. Using PowerShell cmdlets
    6. Getting Help
    7. How PowerShell objects work:  properties and methods
    8. Using the pipeline
    9. Introduction to PowerShell variables
    10. Viewing properties and altering properties:  file object and AD user object examples
    11. PowerShell providers
    12. A very brief look at PowerShell scripting:  modules and signing policies
    13. What PowerShell 2.0 brings to administration

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). 

Course Materials and Course Format

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.

Arranging a Course At Your Location

We offer this class as a public seminar occasionally; you can view the current schedule  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 to discuss scheduling and fees.  

Need to Arrange a More Comprehensive Course or Just Get Up-to-Speed on Vista?

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:

  • If you're attending a public class:  we have a very popular 11-CD set of audio lectures for Windows support professionals that we've been selling for a few years.  The set normally sells for $195, but we're offering it to anyone who signs up for a Windows 7 public seminar session for the discounted price of $125.  You can find out more about the audio CD set at  Again, hearing this set is not a necessary prerequisite for attending our Windows 7 seminar it's just available for those who might find it useful.
  • If you're considering having Mark teach this Windows 7 support course for your organization but you need coverage of both Vista and Windows 7, then we can easily do that, as we've been teaching Vista courses for years.  Just contact us at the above number or email and we can help you choose which Vista topics you'd like to bring to a class at your location.  (You can find the outline for the Vista class at

Thanks for looking our course over; we look forward to assisting you in building Windows 7 support expertise!