This article is based on a prerelease version of Windows Easy Transfer Companion. All information herein is subject to change.
It's time to migrate your users from their old Windows® XP computers to new Windows Vista® machines. The biggest chore in any migration is reinstalling your users' applications on their new PCs—and making sure those apps work. Now, a free tool from Microsoft can spare you those countless reinstalls. The Windows Easy Transfer Companion (WETC) can copy key software programs from Windows XP to Windows Vista.
Currently in beta, WETC is different from the Windows Easy Transfer wizard in Windows Vista. Whereas the wizard copies data files, program settings, and user profiles, WETC copies entire applications, though only from Windows XP SP2 to Windows Vista. You must run the transfer under an admin account.
You install WETC on both the source and destination computers. The PCs can talk to each other over a network or through an Easy Transfer USB cable. The driver for the Easy Transfer cable is included in Windows Vista; for Windows XP you'll need to install the driver from the product CD.
WETC provides a categorized list of transferable apps(Click the image for a larger view)
After connecting the cable, you start WETC on the Windows XP machine. The utility scans the hard drive, gathers basic system information, and analyzes all installed software. When that process completes, you run WETC on the Windows Vista computer. The utility communicates with the Windows XP machine to display a list of all discovered applications, divided into three categories (see the screenshot above):
Programs that transfer well—software that will transfer without problems and run on the Windows Vista PC.
Programs that transfer with possible limitations—software that's capable of being transferred but may not run properly.
Programs that will not be transferred—software that won't run on Windows Vista and will not be included in the transfer.
For each program that can't transfer successfully, WETC briefly explains why. Typically, applications might not copy because they're missing installer information or other key data, are incompatible with Windows Vista, or are already on the Windows Vista machine. Also, WETC will not copy specific types of applications, such as antivirus and system utilities. Nor will it transfer OS frameworks, such as Microsoft .NET—you'll need to install those in Windows Vista before you copy any apps that require them.
From the list of programs, you check off the ones you want to copy. A help screen can assist in your decision and provide solutions to any problems. You can also save a pre-transfer report that lists all programs that will and will not be transferred.
The transfer then proceeds, copying the data related to each program. At the end, a status message tells you which programs were copied and whether errors occurred. You can save a detailed post-transfer report. After exiting WETC, reboot the Windows Vista PC, log in, and run the transferred programs to make sure they work.
Any problems? The WETC Programs folder on Windows Vista includes a shortcut to a Resources tool with an Undo feature that can remove all apps copied to the Windows Vista machine, but this information expires within three days. You can learn more about Windows Easy Transfer Companion and download the latest version at support.microsoft.com/kb/194507.
Lance Whitney is an IT consultant, trainer, and technical writer. He has spent countless hours tweaking Windows workstations and servers. Originally a journalist, he took a blind leap into the IT world 15 years ago.