Microsoft has released a set of new tools that will help companies migrate to the Windows Vista operating system.
The software giant unveiled a free 30-day virtual test version of Windows Vista Enterprise Edition at its Tech Ed conference in Orlando that allows firms to kick the software's tires without requiring testers to install the software.
The test software requires Microsoft Virtual Server, which is available as a free download.
The company also released a data encryption toolkit that assists IT administrators in setting up and enforcing companywide data security policies for notebook computers.
The toolkit works with Vista's Bitlocker, a hard disk encryption technology that aims to prevent data leaks when a notebook is lost or stolen. Bitlocker requires a trusted platform module chip.
Enterprises subscribing to Microsoft's Software Assurance programme will gain access to a so-called desktop optimisation pack containing four tools that assist in migrating applications to Vista.
The tools offer error reporting, help set group policies, and provide an asset inventory service.
The Software Assurance pack also includes SoftGrid Application Virtualisation, a tool that Microsoft acquired in July 2006 through the purchase of Softricity. The software allows firms to deliver applications from a virtual application server.
The technology could benefit firms experiencing application compatibility issues on Vista because the application runs independent from the client operating system.
A marketing programme that links users with third-party service providers rounds out Microsoft's pushing enterprises towards Vista.
Many enterprises including Intel are holding off upgrading to Windows Vista until after the release of Service Pack 1. The collection of bug fixes and updates is expected later this year.
Delaying the roll-out allows firms more time to test internally developed applications for potential compatibility issues.
Service Pack 1 also marks a new level of maturity and stability for Windows releases, instilling confidence that it will be able to run mission critical applications.
Vista's lacking enterprise adoption is a moral defeat for Microsoft, but in the short term is unlikely to affect the company's bottom line.
Many large businesses have signed up for the Software Assurance subscription plan that provides access to all Windows versions at their convenience.
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