Microsoft buys company to ease app transfer to Vista

Microsoft acquires Apptimum to help Windows users more easily migrate applications to new PCs.

Prepping for what it hopes will be a significant migration to Windows Vista, Microsoft on Tuesday acquired Apptimum, a company that develops software to ease the transfer of applications to new computers.

Microsoft acquired Apptimum for an undisclosed sum and said it would base a product on the technology and make it available as an optional download for Windows Vista customers. Microsoft did not announce when the product would be available or what the software will be called when it carries the Microsoft brand.

The company did say that the first iteration of the tool would be more consumer-focused but that the long-term plan is to develop features specifically for corporate users.

Apptimum develops two products for corporate users. Migrate DI is for moving applications, including legacy and homegrown, to new desktops, and Migrate CI is for moving applications in Citrix thin-client environments. The company also has a popular consumer product called PC Relocator under the brand name Alohabob.

"The DT and CI tools are more corporate focused than our first version of these tools will be," product manager with the Windows client team, Gabe Dorfman, said. "Long term, we will invest and innovate in the feature set for enterprise users."

Dorfman said Microsoft has not yet decided how deep the Apptimum tools will be integrated with the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK), a set of deployment tools for corporate users released in beta in February along side the most recent beta of Vista.

WAIK includes a number of imaging tools to make it easier to configure and deploy the operating system to desktops. The Vista beta also includes Beta 2 of the User State Migration Tool (USMT) 3.0, which includes full encryption capabilities and unattended install. USMT is designed to ease migration of user files and settings during large deployments of the operating system. The tool captures desktop, and application settings, as well as user accounts and user files, and then migrates them to a new Windows installation. Those features overlap with some of the capabilities of the Apptimum tool set, but Dorfman said USMT does not support migrating entire applications.

The Apptimum tools would be most valuable to users doing clean installs on machines where the operating system has been completely wiped off, he said.

Microsoft said it wants Vista to be accompanied by the best set of migration tools that the company has ever offered in order to ease the cost and pain of desktop migrations for corporate users. And the company wants to deliver those tools before Vista ships. In the past, the tools have followed the operating system sometimes by as much as 12 months.

Microsoft is trying to reduce costs associated with migrating desktops to a new operating system. The company estimates that manual deployments can run up to $US1000 per PC. Microsoft hopes to automate the task and drop the cost to under $100 per PC.

The company hopes the new tools will help stimulate adoption of the operating system at a time when Windows 2000 Professional desktops are aging.

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