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New Tool Simplifies Windows 7 Migration For Small Deployments

Prowess is offering a free beta migration tool called SmartMigrate for companies moving from Windows XP to Windows 7. The tool lets users maintain their applications and desktop environments by facilitating a physical-to-virtual migration of Windows XP onto a virtual machine that runs on top of a computer running Windows 7. It follows the Microsoft wizard installation method, but can only migrate one desktop at a time. The beta is available now.

SmartMigrate features a simple Windows wizard interface to take the user through a six-step process to create a virtual disk of the existing OS to run on the Windows 7 machine. However, because it can only migrate one desktop at a time, the tool isn't suited to widespread migration projects at enterprises. The company says it is intended for individual users, small-to-medium businesses, home office businesses, or individual departments within an enterprise.

There are other commercial migration tools on the market, but many are priced for enterprise deployments and can cost from $20 to more than $100 per user. Microsoft offers several free tools to help users migrate from XP to 7. Options include Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V), which runs a virtual version of an older OS on a Windows 7 machine and Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V), which runs specific apps on Windows 7 without compatibility issues. There's also a Microsoft virtual desktop infrastructure option. For more on Windows 7 migration options, download our lab test of migration products from Dell, LANDesk, Acronis and Microsoft here (registration required).

Windows 7 offers many improvements over XP and Vista, including new security features, but many customers, particularly in small and medium businesses, have been satisfied with XP's stability and are reluctant to upgrade for fear of disrupting user customizations and breaking applications. But Microsoft is also strongly encouraging customers to upgrade: support for Windows XP has shifted from mainstream to extended support, which means that Microsoft will only release security-related updates for XP.

"We thought it would be interesting to put out something that gives customers a very simple approach to the problem that would allow them to accelerate their Windows 7 migration," says Aaron Suzuki, CEO of Prowess. The company says it has no plans to charge for the software, although it will be rolled into Prowess' commercial SmartDeploy Enterprise suite sometime in the first half of 2011.