Microsoft has given companies a subtle shove toward installing new desktop and productivity software by updating a free set of tools designed to help enterprise customers test application compatibility and ease the transition to Windows XP and Office XP.
Microsoft released version 2.6 of its Windows XP Application Compatibility Toolkit, used to point out potential compatibility issues with applications and suggest workarounds.
The toolkit has been upgraded to identify a broader range of compatibility issues, according to lead product manager for Windows, Greg Sullivan.
The software also had been tied into Microsoft’s Baseline Security Analyser tool, which scanned desktops for missing security patches and service packs, he said.
The combination of compatibility testing and security updates would speed migration times by 70 per cent over migration users made to Windows NT, 95 and 98, Microsoft claimed.
Upgrades to Windows XP have been soft, with many companies citing application compatibility testing for their internal applications as one of the barriers. An upgrade to the software also often requires an upgrade to desktop hardware, an expense that is meeting greater resistance in tough economic times.
"Users have been dragging their feet on upgrades, but these new tools are just incentives and likely won’t change the upgrade cycles," analyst with research firm Directions on Microsoft, Paul DeGroot, said.
He said Windows XP had been hurt by the economic downturn and the fact that it was not a major upgrade over Windows 2000.
"CEOs are not going to give their blessing to software and hardware refreshes unless it does something for the company," DeGroot said.
Sullivan said the software giant’s hoped that upgrades to Windows XP would include Office XP upgrades as the company encouraged customers to build a business desktop and reduced the number of times it had to upgrade client software.
The new tools are available from Microsoft’s new Desktop Center portal, which went live on Monday, and through a CD - available from the company - called the Desktop Deployment Customer Toolkit.
The site also includes a new ROI calculator and a System Preparation Tool for putting together an image of the operating system and Office XP that can be pushed out to desktops.