Has Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows Easy Transfer Companion?

Has Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows Easy Transfer Companion?

Summary: More than two years ago, Microsoft purchased Apptimum, Inc., which had developed two system utilities for transferring programs and settings from one computer to another. Roughly six months later, around the time Windows Vista was released to corporate customers, Microsoft announced that it would release the software under a new name, Windows Easy Transfer Companion. Last month, the “extended public beta” ended suddenly, with no announcement and no plans for a replacement. What's going on?

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Back in March 2006, more than two years ago, Microsoft purchased Apptimum, Inc., which had developed two system utilities for transferring programs and settings from one computer to another: the consumer-focused Alohabob PC Relocator and its corporate cousin, Migrate DT. Roughly six months later, around the time Windows Vista was released to corporate customers, Microsoft announced that it would release the software under a new name, Windows Easy Transfer Companion. The stated plan in Redmond, as I wrote back in October 2006, was for an “extended public beta.”

And so the software sat for more than 18 months, available via Microsoft’s Download Center for the curious but otherwise lacking in vital signs. No one from the development team ever blogged about it, as far as I can tell. It never got so much as a mention on the official Windows Vista blog. A brief Utility Spotlight column that appeared in the January 2008 issue of Microsoft TechNet magazine appears to have been just a random flickering of attention from outside the Windows team.

Then, last month, with no announcement, Windows Easy Transfer Companion disappeared from Microsoft’s website around the middle of June. (That’s when my co-author Carl Siechert noticed that the link from Windows Vista Inside Out was no longer working. The download page was unavailable, and the associated KB article returned a 404. On several Microsoft-run forums, I found notes from Microsoft employees confirming that the download was officially unavailable. When I checked in with Microsoft, I hit a brick wall, with a contact explaining that there had been a great deal of turnover and reshuffling on the team, and it was hard to find out exactly who was in charge. I did get official confirmation that it’s “unclear” what shape this functionality will take and when the next public release might be.

Based on this sketchy evidence, I'm willing to bet that Windows Easy Transfer Companion has been abandoned as a standalone product. It’s far more likely that the developers who built the original Apptimum technology have been moved to the Windows 7 team, where they’re probably integrating the technologies they used in Alohabob and Migrate DT into the OS itself. I suspect it’s being merged into the existing Windows Easy Transfer feature, to reduce resistance to Windows 7 from would-be XP or Vista upgraders.

In fact, many of the concepts involved with moving applications between PCs can also pay off in other, more common tasks, such as uninstalling programs, saving program settings, and even providing a common framework for downloading and installing application updates. It's possible that we'll see much-needed improvements in those areas as well.

The other possibility, of course, is that someone looked at the technology, decided it wasn’t worth the time and developer-hours to update, and pulled the plug on the whole project.

Something tells me we won’t know for sure until later this year, when the first big wave of details about Windows 7 should emerge.

Topics: Microsoft, CXO, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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14 comments
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  • Is this equivalent to Migration Assistant?

    I don't know anything about Easy Transfer, but I do know that Apple's Migration Assistant is fabulous. When I buy a new Mac, set up takes a few clicks and about 3 hours and voila, my new Mac works just like my old one. Even Adobe applications transfer.

    I do remember how painful it was to move to a new Windows machine back in 2004. A lot more that a few clicks.
    davebarnes
    • Yes it would be equiv

      But the biggest problem is all the objects and DLLs that register themselves in the Windows registry. Every one of those settings has to be recreated on the new machine.

      As an junior guy at my first IT job I remember my boss made me move an app from one NT4 machine to another because they had lost the install disks.

      It was basically

      1) copy the obvious stuff
      2) with the obvious stuff on machine two, try to run the program. If it errored, use the error to find the missing component on the original machine and copy it over to machine two.
      3) Keep repeating until the program runs without error on machine two.

      You can imagine how tedious that is.
      croberts
  • What a surprise

    I bet it had a cool internal codeword and everything, and once again MS can't release a new product.

    Oh well, we can sleep easy knowing they'll once again re-sell us yet another version of MS Office in the next 18 months.
    croberts
  • RE: Has Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows Easy Transfer Companion?

    I jumped on the free copy of PC mover when you mentioned it a month or so ago. Having never used it, how does this compare to the migration assistant?
    marks055@...
    • Similar in content

      Slightly different execution, but the same basic idea. I found that PC Mover was more helpful than not, but far from perfect.
      Ed Bott
      • Its supplied with Vista now...

        Ed, although I look forward to your musings, I am amazed that you've missed the vital point on this one... "Windows Easy Transfer" is now supplied with Vista. The (beta) code is no longer needed on Microsoft's download site because its built in now. How did you miss this and instead create a conspiracy theory?
        GTRoberts100
        • Two different things

          Windows Easy Transfer is the same as the old XP Files and Settings Transfer Wizard. It transfers files and settings only, not programs. The Companion product adds the ability to transfer programs as well.
          Ed Bott
  • RE: Has Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows Easy Transfer Companion?

    You are right Ed! My complete mistake.

    Via my internal Microsoft contacts... it appears they released a beta 3 of the WET "companion" product sometime in early June... with an eye to moving to RC sometime hopefully in August.

    Still... its not some huge conspiracy that you're alluding to :-)
    GTRoberts100
    • Well...

      Maybe they should tell the employees running their message boards. And maybe they could tell the people in their PR agency. And maybe they could update the KB article that has been up for nearly two years with a "new release coming" message instead of just deleting it with zero explanation.

      I'm just sayin'...
      Ed Bott
      • True true...

        although I think you'll find that something "as small as this" (in their eyes) and still in beta does not warrant such PR... or its slowly moving its way through the red tape of web site postings??

        I do agree about just updating the KB article.
        GTRoberts100
  • RE: Has Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows Easy Transfer Companion?

    Even if they hadn't pulled it, it is broken on XPSP3 and Vista SP1. They killed a company and a product. Acquisition and not even an initial release!
    anonymous
  • I'd sooner bert the technology is lost.

    I would sooner bet MS still owns the IP but no one really
    knows where it is. They bought it and the original team
    was splintered. Some were let go/left soon after
    acquisition (and one or two were key to the
    understanding). A few team members requested off the
    project and some were simply re-assigned.

    Before you know it, the champions are no longer there.
    The technical knowledge is somewhere else working on
    something else (and not related to this tech). People have
    left.

    This is not an MS problem but a general problem with
    many acquisitions.
    Bruizer
  • RE: Has Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows Easy Transfer Companion?

    Why does Microsoft like to pull the plug on useful utilities? Is there anything around that can do a good/better job [and for free]?
    Gis Bun
  • RE: Has Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows Easy Transfer Companion?

    Is there another program out there that will migrate my programs from my old XP to new Vista?
    michaelalleycat