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Microsoft revises tools for upgrading to Windows XP

Feb 25, 20032 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMicrosoftMicrosoft Office

Microsoft on Tuesday gave companies a subtle shove toward installing new desktop and productivity software by updating a free set of tools designed to help enterprise customers test application compatibility and ease the transition to Windows XP and Office XP.

Microsoft released version 2.6 of its Windows XP Application Compatibility Toolkit, which is used to point out potential compatibility issues with applications and suggest workarounds.

The toolkit has been upgraded to identify a broader range of compatibility issues, according to Greg Sullivan, lead product manager for Windows. He said the software also has been tied into Microsoft’s Baseline Security Analyzer tool, which scans desktops for missing security patches and service packs.

Microsoft says the combination of compatibility testing and security updates will speed migration times by 70% over migration users made to Windows NT, 95 and 98.

Upgrades to Windows XP have been soft, with many companies citing application compatibility testing for their internal applications as one of the barriers. Also, an upgrade to the software often requires an upgrade to desktop hardware, an expense that is meeting greater resistance in tough economic times.

“Users have been dragging their feet on upgrades, but these new tools are just incentives and likely won’t change the upgrade cycles,” says Paul DeGroot, an analyst with research firm Directions on Microsoft. DeGroot says Windows XP has been hurt by the economic downturn and the fact that it is not a major upgrade over Windows 2000. “CEOs are not going to give their blessing to software and hardware refreshes unless it does something for the company.”

Microsoft’s Sullivan says the software giant’s hope is that upgrades to Windows XP will include Office XP upgrades as the company encourages customers to build a business desktop and reduce the number of times it has to upgrade client software.

The new tools are available from Microsoft’s new Desktop Center portal, which went live on Monday, and through a CD available from Microsoft called the Desktop Deployment Customer Toolkit.

The site also includes a new ROI calculator and a System Preparation Tool for putting together an image of the operating system and Office XP that can be pushed out to desktops.