Microsoft Releases Planning Toolkit Beta

Microsoft last week rolled out a beta of its new planning tool, which is designed to help its partners and customers migrate to products within the Microsoft stack.

Version 4.0 of the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit is available for download and can be accessed here.

The beta contains an assortment of new features to address Microsoft's newer operating systems. Microsoft added a Windows 7 hardware and device compatibility assessment tool, a Windows Server 2008 R2 hardware and device compatibility assessment tool and several virtualization assessment tools.

"The most important thing the toolkit does is prepare the ground for the next versions of Windows, especially Windows 7, just as earlier versions tried to do for Windows Vista," noted B. Robert Helm, vice president of research at Directions on Microsoft, via e-mail. "The goal is to help a customer or consultant scan an organization's computers and identify issues, such as underpowered machines, that might prevent them from moving to a new operating system."

Microsoft describes the toolkit as "agent-less" and scalable to allow customers and partners identify servers, workstations and network devices in an IT environment, including Active Directory and workgroups.

In addition to carrying out a hardware and device inventory, the toolkit can be used for compatibility analysis and migration strategies.

"It can certainly help an organization determine what the issues they have to resolve for a new deployment," said Michael Cherry, research vice president for operating systems at Directions on Microsoft, via e-mail. "Like all tools, you have to examine the results carefully, and come to your own conclusion about the results."

Cherry noted that all businesses, regardless of size, can benefit from such evaluation toolsets.

"It isn't too hard for an IT department, no matter how big it is, to find systems that they were not aware of, or forget about a pocket of aging machines," Cherry said. "Even if a large IT shop had an asset management tool, they might still want to use this tool to see what it finds, and to compare the results across tools."

The new Assessment and Planning Toolkit can inventory up to 100,000 machines in an environment in a matter of hours, according to Microsoft.

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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