Microsoft unleashes six Vista deployment tools
Some 'new' utilities have been in beta for months
Computerworld - Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday officially released six free tools to help businesses deploy Windows Vista.
The tools, most of which have been available in beta versions for many months, include software to help companies see if their PCs are powerful enough to run Vista, to check whether their applications are Vista-compatible, and to activate and manage their volume-licensed PCs.
Windows Hardware Assessment 1.0 scans a company’s network to determine whether the attached PCs meet Microsoft’s minimum requirements for basic Vista readiness or Vista premium-readiness. The tool can scan as many as 5,000 PCs and return results in a matter of minutes, according to Shanen Boettcher, general manager of Windows Client Product Management.
A survey last fall by Microsoft system integrators Softchoice Corp. found that about half of PCs running in North American businesses fell below Windows Vista's minimum system requirements -- 800-MHz processor, 512MB of RAM and a DirectX 9 graphics card.
Nearly eight of 10 business PCs would need additional memory to run premium features in Vista such as its Aero 3-D "glass" interface.
Microsoft is also releasing its Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0 for helping companies resolve whether popular packages as well as in-house software will run on Vista, and how to resolve compatibility issues.
As part of ACT 5.0, Microsoft is also creating an online community where, among other things, it will maintain a list of software that has been certified as meeting Microsoft’s standards for Vista compatibility, Boettcher said.
About 800 applications are on the initial list "with more pouring in every week," he said. So far, 108 have been awarded full Vista certification by third-party testing groups, while 683 have been verified by the same bodies as working with Vista, according to Boettcher. "There are many applications that aren't yet on the list that will still work on Vista."
The list was not online as of late Monday, though Microsoft promised it would be up soon. Boettcher said the certification, though not done by Microsoft itself but provided by third-party organizations, nevertheless sets a “high bar” for Vista compatibility.
With Volume Activation 2.0, Microsoft has significantly tightened Vista to prevent piracy. Formerly, companies could use the same volume key to activate many or even all of the Windows PCs in their network. As a result, those keys were vulnerable to theft and abuse by outside software pirates.
Now, corporations must either activate individual keys for every Vista PC with Microsoft or with a Key Management Service hosted on an internal server.
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