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How to: Windows 7 upgrades for businessses

Third-party alternatives to Microsoft's tools

Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 isn't easy, but Microsoft does have an abundance of tools to make the transition as smooth as possible. However, there's plenty of alternatives out there. We've taken a look at some of the choices available.

Kace Kbox: An appliance-based approach

The Kbox appliance is offered as both a physical and a virtual appliance. It's geared for midsize businesses, handling the entire Windows 7 migration process through a single tool.

It of course handles user state migration, but also allows Windows 7 to be installed across a network through its K-imaging and Network OS install features.

It tracks OS and software licensing compliance, handles patch management, and performs pre-migration inventory assessment and a host of other features.

I haven't spent enough time with Kbox and Microsoft's tools to pick a definitive winner, but from the work I've done with the free Microsoft tools, I can say my heart leans toward the Kbox product because its centralised administrative console allows me to do so many things at once.

One of the features I especially like is the application virtualisation technology through virtual Kontainers that allow you to deploy software to the OS by encapsulating applications.

ChangeBase AOK: An application-compatibility focus

AOK automates the majority of the manual work done in relation to application packaging and management.

What ChangeBase has discovered is that 40 percent of organisations it's polled indicate a desire to migrate to Windows 7 in the next year.

However, 66 percent of their respondents are concerned about application compatibility. (ChangeBase has found that 60 to 80 percent of a typical application portfolio need some remediation to meet the deployment requirements for Windows 7 - but only five percent of applications have a specific problem that needs to be addressed by the software vendor or programmer.)

Options like Windows 7's XP Mode and Zinstall can mitigate these concerns, but ChangeBase has made it its key focus.

Knowing your options

Obviously, there is no perfect answer to Windows 7 migration. Each environment is different.

What you may decide for your organisation may not be valid for another. Perhaps the budget pushes you toward free tools, and you are already pushing the envelope with the migration itself.

Perhaps your budget has rebounded enough to ensure a smoother migration with less stress through the use of products such as Zinstall, PCmover, Kbox, and AOK.

Small business IT advice

See also: How to solve the most common Windows 7 upgrade issues

  1. We look at third-party alternatives to Microsoft's tools
  2. Laplink PCmover
  3. Kace Kbox
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