The return of PC Relocator

Back in March, Microsoft purchased Apptimum, Inc., maker of Alohabob PC Relocator and other PC-to-PC migration products. This week, the first hints appeared that those products are about to return, just in time for the launch of Windows Vista.

My ZDNet colleague Mary Jo Foley notes that Microsoft has officially announced its soon-to-be-released tool to migrate programs from one computer to another:

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

This sure sounds like the official relaunch of Alohabob PC Relocator and its corporate cousin, Migrate DT, both of which were acquired by Microsoft when it purchased Apptimum, Inc. back in March.

Mary Jo notes that this will be one of three migration tools available shortly after Vista is released and asks:

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.

I think I can answer that one. Each product serves a specific niche:

  • Windows Easy Transfer is an update to the Files And Settings Transfer Wizard, which moves data files (including e-mail), preferences, and program settings to a new PC. If you use only this tool, you have to reinstall all programs on your new PC.
  • The Windows Easy Transfer Companion moves programs and data from one machine (running XP or Vista) to another. Currently, this feature is only available with extra-cost third-party programs.
  • The Easy Transfer Cable, as Mary Jo notes, is one choice for making the physical connection between old and new PC. Again, this is an option that companies like LapLink have offered for a while. It removes a lot of the complexity from the process by allowing the user to directly connect two PCs via their USB ports instead of having to set up a network or use a removable hard drive as the transfer mechanism.

Hint to Microsoft: The Windows Easy Transfer Companion should be free.