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Designing Managed Desktops for Replacing Computers

Updated: March 28, 2003

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

When a user receives a new or different computer, it can cause a time-consuming interruption in productivity. It is important that users regain productivity in the shortest possible time and with a minimum of support. This can be accomplished by storing user data and settings independently of any specific computer. By using the Group Policy features Roaming User Profiles and Folder Redirection, you can ensure that the user’s data, settings, and applications are available wherever the user logs on to the network.

To further simplify setting up a new managed computer on your network, use Remote Installation Services to create standardized operating system configurations. Remote Installation Services allows you to create a customized image of a Windows XP Professional or Windows 2000 Professional desktop from a source computer. Then, you can save that desktop image to the Remote Installation Services server. The image can include the operating system alone or a preconfigured desktop image, including the operating system and a standard, locally installed desktop application. You can use that preconfigured image to set up multiple desktops, saving valuable time. Create as many standard desktop images as you need to meet the needs of all types of users in your organization. For more information about using Remote Installation Services, see the Remote Installation Services (RIS) link on the Web Resources page at

These IntelliMirror technologies can work together when a computer fails, as the following example illustrates.

  • Example. A user’s computer suddenly undergoes a complete hardware failure. The user calls the internal support line. Presently, a new computer, loaded only with the Windows XP Professional operating system, arrives. Without waiting for technical assistance, the user plugs in the new computer, connects it to the network, starts it, and can immediately log on.

    Because roaming user profiles are enabled, the user finds that the desktop takes on the same configuration as the computer it replaced — the same color scheme, screensaver, and all the application icons, shortcuts, and favorites are present. Because Folder Redirection and Software Installation are enabled, the user can access data files on the server after the appropriate applications are automatically installed.

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