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Enterprise Mobility + Security

Support for Windows XP reaches the end of extended support in April 2014. We hope that customers using Windows XP are already well underway with migration projects to a more current platform as waiting for the release of Windows 8.1 later this year will only allow for a very short timeframe in which to migrate. For customers that are planning this, though, the migration process is not as straightforward as usual due to advances in technology. One area of typical focus is the migration of user data. If you are not already using any user state virtualization and need to ensure your users’ data is migrated at the same time the operating system is refreshed from Windows XP to Windows 8.1, this post describes the process by which you can use System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager for this purpose.

System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager requires the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows 8.1, which includes the User State Migration Tool (USMT) 8.1. USMT 8.1 does not support Windows XP as a source operating system, but it can restore user data (not settings) captured by USMT 5 from the Windows ADK for Windows 8. So to migrate user data from Windows XP to Windows 8.1 using System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager, we can first capture user state with USMT 5 on Windows XP, and then restore the data with USMT 8.1 to Windows 8.1.

NOTE: this process will only capture user data such as files in My Documents, My Pictures or the Desktop. It does not capture and migrate Windows settings such as the desktop background and regional settings.

This process will work in both the typical refresh and replace scenarios, but does require the use of two task sequences and an available State Migration Point server role. The following steps focus on the refresh scenario, but the concept is the same for a replace scenario using a computer association to link the two computers.

Here are the components that you’ll need:

First, prepare the USMT packages.

  1. A package for USMT 8.1 is automatically created when you install or upgrade to System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager, as the Windows ADK for Windows 8.1 is a setup prerequisite.
  2. You also need a package for USMT 5, which comes with the Windows ADK for Windows 8. Two versions of the ADK cannot be installed on the same computer so you will need to install this ADK on a separate computer.
  3. Extract the USMT files from the Windows ADK for Windows 8 installation folder, C:Program Files (x86)Windows Kits8.0Assessment and Deployment KitUser State Migration Tool (by default), and transfer them to a common location for package source files.
  4. Follow the instructions on How to Create a USMT Package, making sure to point the package source to the location of the USMT 5 folder from the previous step.
  5. Finally, ensure that the contents for both USMT packages are properly distributed.

Next, follow these steps for capturing data from the source Windows XP computer.

  1. Create a task sequence using the option to Create a new custom task sequence. (See How to Create Task Sequences for more information.) A boot image is not necessary for this task sequence.
  2. Edit the new custom task sequence and add steps to Request State Store, Capture User State and Release State Store.
  3. On the Capture User State step, select the USMT 5 package you created above. Customize it to use miguser.xml, and to use VSS, as shown below. While not in the sample image below, we also recommend you check Enable verbose loggingin this scenario.


  4. Deploy this task sequence to a collection of Windows XP computers. Notice that in the following screenshot that there is a customized desktop background, as well as files and folders on the user’s desktop.


This will capture and save the user state to the state migration point, and create an In-place computer association under the User State Migration node, as shown below:


Finally, use this procedure to deploy Windows 8.1 and restore the previously captured data.

  1. Create a task sequence using the option to Install an existing image package. (See How to Create Task Sequences for more information.)
    1. Configure this task sequence to install the Windows 8.1 image.
    2. On the State Migration page of the wizard ensure Capture user settings and files is selected and the USMT 8.1 package is chosen.
  2. Edit this new task sequence and configure the Restore User Files and Settings step. Ensure the USMT 8.1 package is selected as the user state migration tool and customize it to use miguser.xml. While not in the sample image below, we also recommend you check Enable verbose loggingin this scenario.

    NOTE: You can remove the Capture User Files and Settings group as well, but by default it will be skipped as the rest of this procedure relies upon the task sequence starting from bootable media or a PXE Service Point.

  3. Deploy the task sequence to the target collection.
  4. Boot the target computer by using either bootable media or via a PXE Service Point.

The target computer will run the task sequence to install Windows 8.1 and eventually restore the user data from the previously captured user state on the state migration point. As you can see from the end result below, Windows 8.1 is installed and the data files and folders are successfully restored but as expected the settings are not (such as the custom desktop background).



If you are migrating Windows XP computers directly to Windows 8.1, Microsoft recommends and supports the process outlined above. As with any task sequence there are often multiple ways to achieve the same end result, but this specific procedure best aligns with our tested scenarios.

Cheng Xu and Aaron Czechowski

This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties and confers no rights.