Microsoft readies new transfer tool for XP-Vista migration

Microsoft is readying a new tool, called the Windows Easy Transfer Companion, designed to transfer actual applications from Windows XP PCs to Vista PCs using a cable or a network connection.

Making deployment of Windows Vista hassle-free is a big priority for Microsoft -- and one of the ways the Softies believe they'll be able to make good on their claim that Vista will be the most rapidly adopted version of Windows ever.

Company officials have been talking up forthcoming Vista tools like the Application Compatibility Toolkit, Business Desktop Deployment Solution Accelerator, Virtual PC 2007, Windows Deployment Services and other enterprise-focused Vista-deployment aids.

But there are even more migration tools in the wings, including one more consumer- and small-business-focused one about which Microsoft officials have said next-to-nothing.

That tool, the Windows Easy Transfer Companion, will transfer actual applications from Windows XP PCs to Vista PCs using a cable or a network connection.

Microsoft is planning to launch an "extended public beta" of the tool at the same time as Vista launches, according to a blog post by Anthony Clendenen, a Systems Management Server engineer, on his myitforum site. (Whether this means the tool will become available as of November business launch or the January consumer launch is not clear.) The tool will be a free download, but require Windows Genuine Advantage authentication for access, Clendenen blogged.

An earlier post by a member of the Windows Vista Install Fair Team offers more specifics on the forthcoming tool. According to that post, Microsoft will offer a "triad of solutions to ease the process of moving all of your e-mail, documents, Internet favorites, photos, music and programs to your new Windows Vista PC."

The three components of the solution are Windows Easy Transfer, a new feature in Vista that will scan old XP PCs and gathers up applications, settings, emails, address books and more. The Windows Easy Transfer Companion moves the applications from XP machines to Vista PCs. And the Easy Transfer Cable, which will be developed by various USB cable manufacturers and available at retail locations, will be the physical medium for the transfer.

Why is Microsoft readying so many migration and deployment tools? Is this a sign that the Softies are anticipating app-compat problems galore with Vista? Or is it just a case of being safe instead of sorry? We'll soon find out.