Q&A

Laplink Prepping New Windows 10 Migration Tools

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Laplink's CEO this month described how Windows 10 migrations can be eased using the company's tools.

I spoke with Thomas Koll, CEO and chairman of Laplink, earlier this month about what to expect when moving to the new OS. The Bellevue, Wash.-based company is planning to release new versions of its PCmover tools specifically to address Windows 10 moves by individuals and organizations. What follows is an edited Q&A.

Q: Microsoft has been presenting Windows 10 as a somewhat effortless upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 users. In the recent past, clean installs of Windows systems have been the preferred route for cautious Windows upgraders, but Microsoft is recommending in-place upgrades to Windows 10 this time as the mainstream approach. What's Laplink's thinking about that?
Koll: In general I would think that this process will be smooth and without any issues. If we think back, when a new OS was released by Microsoft, there was always an in-place upgrade. And I think this whole process was a little broken when Windows 7 was introduced. There were criticisms of Windows Vista, and Microsoft didn't have a Windows XP to Windows 7 in-place upgrade. Now we are getting back to the situation where Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 can be easily upgraded, and I believe that is the case. We have not tested it to the max to see if it works because we don't have a release version of Windows 10 yet. I think that consumers can be very confident that Microsoft will do a very good job in enabling upgrades from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 under certain conditions. Where consumers might get a little bit confused is situations where they are running Windows XP. In such cases, they can't do an in-place upgrade. They also might get confused moving from 32-bit to 64-bit Windows. And, of course, you cannot upgrade from Windows 8.0 -- you first have to go to Windows 8.1. What Laplink is telling users is that PCmover will support in-place upgrades fully in the scenarios that Microsoft might not support. So if users run into any issues, they can always get our PCmover upgrade system and we will do any in-place upgrade from Windows XP upwards to Windows 10.

Microsoft isn't supporting Windows XP upgrades because it's an "N-2" generational product leap I guess.
Yes, Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP after 10 years, but Laplink is supporting end users for these extra scenarios.

Microsoft previously worked with Laplink to provide Windows XP users with a free tool to migrate to Windows 7. Will Microsoft do the same after releasing Windows 10?
That might be a better question for Microsoft. Microsoft is very supportive of our efforts. We'll make whatever is best for consumers available in the marketplace.

What potential issues should end users note about the Windows 10 upgrade process?
Microsoft has put out a lot of good information about what to expect. For example, if you have Media Center on your old PC, that won't move over to Windows 10. The same thing is true of Microsoft's DVD player on older systems -- it won't be available on the new Windows 10 machine. Also, we've heard from Microsoft and others that Windows 10 upgrades will handle antivirus programs a little differently this time. If users have no active antivirus subscriptions, then Microsoft will tie them to Windows Defender so that the new Windows 10 is protected from viruses. That's a very interesting way to do it. It will protect the user, so that's a good thing. If you have an active antivirus product, Windows 10 will delete the old one and will download the newest version for Windows 10 so that you can continue to work on the PC. So that should be very good for consumers and will be very interesting if there are no glitches. But that's certainly something that consumers should watch out for.

The "Get Windows 10" upgrade app, which prompts Windows users to get a free Windows 10 upgrade, has some remediation capabilities. For instance, it will indicate which apps might not run on Windows 10. Will it do all that's needed for individuals and organizations to handle app remediation issues when moving to Windows 10?
Well, I doubt that a little. First of all, I think the tool is mostly for the consumer market. I'm not sure if Microsoft tested all of the internal corporate apps that are around. There are thousands and thousands of corporate applications. From Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, I would expect that most applications would be compatible. Mostly, it's always the antivirus and antimalware guys because they are always very closely tied to a certain version of the OS. Otherwise, I don't think there will be many compatibility issues, [provided that] we're not moving from Windows XP 32 bit to Windows 10 64 bit. If you use our tool to move from Windows 7 32 bit to Windows 10 64 bit, yes, you might experience some issues with the 32 bit apps, but I don't think that will be highlighted by Microsoft because that is not a supported upgrade path.

So PCmover can do those Windows migrations from 32 bit to 64 bit?
That is correct, but we can't make any noncompatible applications compatible. We don't have the information from all of the vendors. And, unfortunately, there's really no list of noncompatible applications. Microsoft has published some lists, but they were put together by the application vendors themselves. They are imprecise because they are mostly marketing lists, rather than technology lists. The good news for the user is that even if they install a 32-bit app that won't run on Windows 10, they can delete it or uninstall it. It's much easier to find out that way than thinking that you can't run it. If you think you can't run it, then you're at a disadvantage, especially in corporations. The good news with PCmover is that we can move them over. You can check whether they work, and that's a much faster compatibility test than if you try to install them because often the installer will balk at going to a 64-bit system. So we circumvent the installer and we have higher rates of installing applications than if you were to do it manually.

There will be a 32-bit Windows 10, but can Laplink's tool tell you if a 32-bit application will run on Windows 10 64 bit?
I think you have to work with the manufacturer of that particular application. It's a little complex, but if you go 32 bit to 32 bit, I would think the majority of applications will work. If you go from 32 bit to 64 bit, expect that 50 percent of your applications will not work. We highlight some of the applications that will not work that we have tested. We have a red list of the applications we block. We have green apps indicating that you can move them and they'll work fine. We have yellow apps where we can't determine whether they will run on a system or not. The tool suggests that you should not install these yellow apps if you go from 32 bit to 64 bit Windows, but the user can override our suggestion.

Organizations can use the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit to migrate the OS, although the one for Windows 10 seems to be at the preview stage right now. What about using that?
For the enterprise in the Deployment Toolkit Microsoft does have a tool that you can program, but it's not automated, it's not out of the box, so you need the developer resources to do that. The problem then is that it will only move data settings but no applications. And you basically have to tell the tool from where to where, and it's very time intensive to do that. It's much easier to use PCmover Enterprise edition, our version for bigger IT organizations, where they can automate that process extremely well.

How does an organization buy PCmover? Is it priced per workstation?
We sell PCmover Enterprise to organizations with over 100 PCs and we charge by migration or by PC or desktop. Usually customers work with us, such as "give me a quote for 1,000 units." We do that in different ways. We have volume license agreements. We have an annual license. Our normal price in the marketplace is around $50, and if you have over 1,000 PCs it's more in the $10 to $15 range. If you save 10 minutes of an IT technician's time, then you've already paid for the software, so the ROI is immediate. We have a lot of Fortune 500 companies, governments and education customers that are using PCmover to move 1,000 to 100,000 machines.

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