Feb. launch set for new Windows Server 2008, Vista SP1 tools

Tools will also address Office 2007 and virtualization

Ahead of its launch of Windows Server 2008 and Vista SP, Microsoft is planning to ship in late February assessment tools for IT shops so they can get their networks in order and ease any planned migrations.

The Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Solution Accelerator is designed to help IT shops inventory their network, assess the readiness of their infrastructure for a migration and generate reports and recommendations.

The tool is for users planning migrations to Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Microsoft Virtualization technologies (Virtual Server 2005 R2 and the forthcoming Hyper-V), and Microsoft Application Virtualization (formerly SoftGrid).

Baldwin Ng, of the Microsoft assessment and planning team wrote in a Jan. 26 posting on the MAP blog that the assessment tool would be released on the Web in approximately four weeks. A beta program is already under way.

Microsoft is planning a launch event Feb. 27 in Los Angeles and is likely to release both Windows Server 2008 and Vista SP1 close to that event.

The company has said it plans to release the server and client software around the same time. Vista SP1 typically is a milestone that many corporate users wait for before planning migrations. Vista and Windows Server 2008 work in tandem on a handful of new features, including Network Access Protection (NAP).

Vista SP1 will include a number of bug fixes and performance enhancements but no new features, Microsoft said.

Microsoft also is updating other Vista migration tools, including the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT ) 5.0, and Microsoft User State Migration Tools (USMT) 3.0.

Uptake of Vista has been slow by corporate users, many of whom have standardized on XP and are reluctant to undertake another migration.

Over the past two years, Microsoft has launched five versions of its migration assessment platform starting with the Assessment and Planning Solution and concluding with the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment tool (WVHA). Each one has built on the other and WVHA will be folded into MAP this time around.

MAP will allow IT executives to discover how many servers and desktops they have, which ones are ready to migrate to Windows Server 2008 with little modification, which desktops can move to Vista SP1 with minimal investment and which servers are candidates for consolidation via virtualization.

MAP does not require agents to be installed on each node and can inventory up to 100,000 computers, according to Microsoft. The hardware assessment tool analyzes specific hardware and device compatibility based on requirements published by Microsoft.

The tools can discover and collect data from computers and devices on networks that support Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP).

In addition to Windows Server 2008 and Vista, MAP supports XP Pro, Windows Server 2003 and 2003 R2, Windows Professional desktop and server, and non-Windows operating systems that are SNMP enabled.

For virtualization, the tool gathers performance metrics and generates server consolidation recommendation reports.

Other reports can be published using Word or Excel. Desktop readiness reports can be published in North American English, German, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese.

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