Microsoft's Windows 7 is nearing release, and IT vendors are turning to the problems customers will face when migrating to the new platform, especially the large volume of users still running Windows XP.
Dell is one of the first vendors to announce services designed to help business customers through a migration to Windows 7, while Laplink is ready with its PCmover tool that lets users bring applications as well as files and settings with them when they upgrade.
Windows 7 introduces many new features, but the technology at its core has much in common with Windows Vista. Microsoft has said that the vast majority of applications and drivers written for Vista will work without a hitch under Windows 7, and that PCs running Vista will be capable of handling Windows 7.
The same is not necessarily true for Windows XP, however, which is still being used in 86 per cent of businesses, according to recent research.
Dell said that it can offer services to assist business customers with application compatibility, migration and deployment, and image management.
"Customers need to understand what software is compatible, what's not, and how to remediate the situation. We have the capability to help customers assess their readiness to migrate to Windows 7," said Dell director of services Jim Ginger.
Dell's Application Management services can efficiently identify, test, remediate and deploy a pplications, the company said, while the Migration and Deployment services offer readiness assessment and optimised roll-out.
Finally, Dell said that it can provide fully functional Windows 7 images built by Dell consultants according to a customer's specifications, ready for deployment on Dell PCs.
Meanwhile, Laplink is offering an upgrade path for users who do not want to have to reinstate all their programs and files to move up to Windows 7. The new operating system allows only European buyers to perform a full install, which loses any software and settings they might have in place.
Laplink's PCmover, which is priced from £27.95, enables any user to upgrade a PC from XP or Vista to Windows 7 in a few simple steps, according to the firm.
The process involves running PCmover first, then installing Windows 7 using the 'do not reformat' option, after which PCmover will automatically restore all applications, files and settings.
"PCmover is the only program capable of automatically performing this task. Without PCmover, users must copy all data files manually to an external drive, upgrade to Windows 7, and then reinstall all the applications, data and settings by hand," said Laplink chief executive Thomas Koll.
PCmover is currently available in Home and Professional editions for families and individuals respectively, plus Business and Enterprise editions for companies.