TechEd: Tools to ease Vista deployment pains

With the launch of tools to help companies, Microsoft has acknowledged deployment and application compatibility pains for IT managers updating business desktops to new operating system Windows Vista.

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With the launch of tools to help companies, Microsoft has acknowledged deployment and application compatibility pains for IT managers updating business desktops to new operating system Windows Vista.

The company unveiled the new tools, Data Encryption Toolkit for Mobile PCs and Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) Test Drive, at the TechEd 2007 conference in Orlando. The first helps IT administrators set encryption policies for laptops in an enterprise using the encrypting file system and new Bitlocker features of Windows Vista, said Stella Chernyak, a Vista product manager at Microsoft. The second is a file that can be downloaded from the Internet that allows enterprises to run a virtual version of Vista on PCs for a 30-day evaluation period to see how it will interact with other applications in their systems.

The VHD Test Drive is available online, and more information on the Data Encryption Toolkit can be found on Microsoft's website.

Business adoption of Vista has been a big concern since the operating system (OS) was released to business customers last November. Many companies said they would hold off on fully deploying the OS longer than they usually do mainly because of concerns about application compatibility.

Indeed, Chernyak acknowledged Tuesday in an interview that lack of application compatibility is the biggest challenge enterprise customers face when they deploy Vista. She said this is why Microsoft released the Vista Application Compatibility Toolkit simultaneously with the general availability of the OS instead of some time after, which it has traditionally done. The VHD also gives enterprises a chance to see what applications will be affected by the new OS so they can make compatibility adjustments before investing in Vista.

Three of Microsoft's large enterprise customers - Continental Airlines, Charter Communications and healthcare company Cerna - also will have major Vista deployments in their enterprise by the end of the year, Chernyak said. Microsoft claims most enterprises are on schedule for a full rollout of Vista 12 to 18 months after its release, which is about normal for a new Windows OS, she said.

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