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Setting Up a Test Lab

Updated: March 28, 2003

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

To determine whether your applications are compatible with Windows XP Professional or Windows Server 2003, you must test them in a lab environment on computers that represent the hardware and software configurations found in your organization. These hardware and software configurations include variables such as all of the operating systems that interoperate in your environment; a mix of clients; the mix of applications to be installed on a single computer; and all the supporting programs, hardware components, and required files. Therefore, the size and complexity of the test lab is determined by the complexity of the applications to be tested and by the network environment where you plan to deploy them.

In addition to duplicating hardware and software configurations, you need to simulate the way that you install and use the applications in your production environment. For example, one organization has a production environment that encompasses thousands of applications running on both Windows NT Server 4.0 and Windows 2000. This organization uses scripted application installations to control the application environment and to prevent unauthorized copying or installation of third-party products. In addition, it standardizes drive mappings for production applications. For example, drive F is reserved for authorized applications for which users have read-only access, drive G is reserved for authorized applications for which users have read and write access, and drive J is reserved for the users’ customized and personal settings, which are retained across sessions.

The test lab includes separate network shares to simulate the drive mappings. Windows XP Professional is installed on all of the test lab computers, except for two baseline computers that have Windows NT Server 4.0 and Windows 2000 installed. Each computer is set up with a core set of applications that are common to all users — such as an office productivity suite, Internet browser, antivirus application, and administrative tools. This core set of applications is pretested for compatibility. Each additional application is then tested using the production application installation script in an environment where the core applications are installed.

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