I’ve hinted a few times here and there to customers, partners, and journalists about SmartMigrate. It’s something our software team has been thinking about, talking about, and working on for a long time in order to help people deal with Windows XP to Windows 7 migration. We’re really excited about it. And finally, we’re ready to release it as a stand-alone tool for public beta. Devon gives a good, full run-down in his blog, including screen shots.
SmartMigrate moves an entire operating system (primarily this is for XP systems) complete with applications and user data into a virtual disk file and run it as a guest VM on a new operating system (theoretically Windows 7). At once, it addresses application compatibility by keeping existing applications in their native environment and it buys you more time to learn a new OS by keeping the old, familiar environment around.
SmartMigrate is incredibly simple to use, and based on our internal testing it seems to be pretty reliable. (You will probably get the New Hardware Wizard when you start it up post-migration, but a blue screen is unusual.) I ran it on an old XP system I’ve had around for over 5 years and it worked like a champ.
There are other tools that do similar things, but there are a couple features that make SmartMigrate unique. First, you will be able to deploy to multiple different virtualization platforms. The list is short with this initial beta release, but we’ll add more as we progress through the beta including Microsoft, VMware, Parallels, and VirtualBox. Offering a diverse set of virtualization targets for your migration is interesting as it gives you considerably greater flexibility and leaves you open to a broader range of computing models, like centralizing and consolidating with VDI and even using a Linux desktop or server as a host for the migrated VM.
Second, and best of all, we plan to offer licenses for SmartMigrate free of charge for personal use. If you need to keep your old OS around, SmartMigrate is a pretty simple means to get an otherwise arduous project done and the price is right.
We plan to take the refinements we’ve built into the SmartMigrate Migration Wizard and roll it back into SmartDeploy Enterprise in late 2010 so you can use SmartMigrate at work and we will be able to support it properly through the SmartDeploy support programs. We’ve already received some customer requests for new features in SmartMigrate for their unique environments. Of course, manageability concerns abound when I talk about using a tool like this in a production environment, and I don’t have a perfect answer to address manageability. But for individuals, departments, or divisions that need it, SmartMigrate could help you get to Windows 7 faster and with less pain compared to putting it off indefinitely while another team rewrites and tests that old-but-still-critical LOB app.
Meanwhile, anyone who is interested can download and use SmartMigrate to keep their old system around in a format that will be usable indefinitely. The SmartMigrate beta is public and the download is available now. We’re eager to get your feedback.