Part of re-birthing an ‘old’ PC into a ‘new’ 1Desktop PC

I am currently neck deep in BHP Billiton’s worldwide project to upgrade of all of its 35,000+ PCs to 64-bit Windows 7 with Microsoft Office 2010 (32-bit). The vast bulk of BHP Billiton’s existing legacy PC fleet is running 32-bit Windows XP with Office 2007—as is the case for most other major companies (and many not so major companies) around the world. But with Microsoft formally dropping all support for Windows XP in April next year, BHP Billiton is working hard to get all their PCs upgraded to Windows 7 by April 2014 (plus or minus two or three months).

In BHP Billiton this activity is scoped into the 1Desktop Project.

The 1Destkop Project actually encompasses much more than simply getting tens of thousands of PCs upgraded to Windows 7 but getting this part done is a major plank of the project.

At the BHP Billiton operation where I am located, as would be the case for most other BHP Billiton operating sites, the massively oversimplified steps around deploying a new Windows 7 1Desktop PC are:

  1. Pre-build a heap of Windows 7 1Desktop PCs ready for deployment.
  2. Work out who can have their ‘old’ PC replaced with a 1Desktop PC.
  3. Load the pre-assigned 1Desktop PCs up with the required tools and applications.
  4. Drive out into the site at the pre-arranged time and pick up the ‘old’ PC.
  5. Bring the ‘old’ PC back to where all the work is done and, usually overnight, transfer over (i.e., migrate) all necessary user data and settings from the ‘old’ PC to the ‘new’ 1Desktop PC.
  6. After testing, deliver the ‘new’ 1Desktop PC back to the required location.

Within what seems to be a simple process there are many and numerous wrinkles and complications. Many things that can and do go wrong.

As one tiny indication of the complexity involved it will take the site I am working at about five months to replace about half of their ‘old’ PCs with ‘new’ 1Desktop PCs. And these are the easy PCs to replace. Plus, this is after well over 18 months of preparations to get to this point where we can actually start replacing PCs.

As another small indication of complexity, many of the PCs have multiple users with some PCs in certain locations having over a hundred users that use them.

Then there are the PCs that, when they are brought back into the preparation area fail to start up again (you will see why later in the video). They are DOA into the preparation area. How do you migrate user data and settings from a PC that is DOA? The disk has to be taken out and put into another PC—assuming the disk is not the part that has failed.

You get the idea.

Anyway, the whole reason for this post is to get to the point where I can show you the following video I took the other day in the preparation area. This video shows one of ten PCs being ‘cleaned out’ on this particular day.

I had previously been told by one of the Deployment Engineers about how much dirt and crap they blast out of these ‘old’ PCs and I indicated that I would like to get some pictures of that. So last Thursday they gave me a call and said they were about to blast out some PCs.

So following is a short one minute video showing an ‘old’ PC being blasted clean as part of the process of getting it ready to be rebuilt and then re-deployed as a ‘new’ 1Desktop PC. This video was shot using my recently purchased compact Canon G15. Clicking on the picture will take you to the Vimeo video site where the video can then be played.

I am very new at editing and preparing video for online consumption so forgive me for the roughness of the production.


The Deployment Engineer has to wear eye protection and a breathing mask when blasting the dirt and dust out of these PCs.

Sadly I have no idea how to make a Vimeo video play on Android or iOS. Vimeo is a very popular video sharing site so I am sure it can be done … somehow. If anyone knows how to make this work then feel free to leave a comment and I will then add those notes into the main posting.