Windows 11 Migrations Made Easy with PCmover Tools

PCmover migration products from Laplink Software are currently ready to transfer applications, data and settings over to new Windows 11 PCs.

Windows 11 is coming Oct. 5, and so I recently spoke with Thomas Koll, CEO of Laplink Software, about supporting Windows 11 migrations.

Bellevue, Wash.-based Laplink is a longtime Microsoft partner that helps individuals and organizations with the messy transitions from one Windows system to another via its software transfer solutions. The company has been offering PC transfer solutions for nearly 40 years, complete with free 24/7 support.

Koll is a 13-year Microsoft veteran who served as a country manager in Germany for Microsoft before becoming chief of staff for Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's former longtime CEO. Koll also served as corporate vice president leading Microsoft's Network Solutions Group.

Consumers and small businesses can use PCmover Professional when it's clear their target systems can run Windows 11, which has stringent hardware requirements. Laplink also offers a PCmover Enterprise migration solution for large organizations that are making the move to Windows 11. Laplink fully supports all versions of Windows from XP through Windows 11.

The following Q&A mostly focused on enterprise Windows 11 migration challenges, which are made more acute given the current remote-work trend. 

Redmond: How are organizations using PCmover Enterprise?
Koll: We have many of the Fortune 100 and governments around the world using the software because you can totally customize it -- even headless without UI or with a little bit of UI. And we have made great inroads with remote migrations for home workers by utilizing the cloud as a transport mechanism.

"Many enterprises don't have connectivity to home users for data transfers through VPNs because you can't run terabytes through VPNs as they will just fall apart. So we use cloud transports, and it makes it very easy for administrators."

Thomas Koll, CEO, Laplink Software

Many enterprises don't have connectivity to home users for data transfers through VPNs because you can't run terabytes through VPNs as they will just fall apart. So we use cloud transports, and it makes it very easy for administrators. They can migrate to machines in different locations. A home user machine can be migrated to a laptop at an office, for instance, without the user having to be present. Basically, you want to avoid a service "truck roll," per the old telecom phrase, because it's costly to send out technicians.

PCmover software is just used to transfer data and settings when an image has been set up?
Yes, so the IT department can configure a system with a standard desktop using Microsoft SCCM [System Center Configuration Manager] or other tools. End users can then plug in a cable to connect both PCs to your network or use their home network, and it'll give you a no-touch transfer, if wanted.

That's a very common scenario, but total automation is possible via asynchronous transfer. You first "export" your application, data and settings and transfer it to an external server, and then bring it back to the new target PC without being at the home location. You just need connectivity to the datacenter, which can be done through the Internet, utilizing enterprise blob storage.

Could cloud storage services like OneDrive be used for such transfers?
Consumer cloud storage services like OneDrive are very inefficient for doing full migrations. It's the wrong solution for that.

Does PCmover inform users about app compatibility issues before a move?
Our software will suggest that an app will not work by indicating it in red. A green indicator means we tested it and found it compatible. There's also a yellow caution indicator. We do a lot of testing of applications. We have to, because Microsoft will not provide a list showing what's compatible and what's not.

Typically, our software blocks the apps that can't transfer, and users get a report showing the failures. The software does block the transfer of OEM applications, so it won't put an HP support app on a Dell machine, for instance.

If Microsoft Office is on both machines, we just transfer the settings. We don't override or replace apps.

If an application is tied to the hardware by the software publisher, can it be moved?
Some software companies, like Adobe, like to link the license to the hardware. And yes, when it gets moved, it will not work because it lacks that hardware connection. However, if you deauthorize it first and decouple it from the hardware, you can usually move it, and then it recouples again. And then it works.  

Windows 11 is an all-64-bit OS. Does PCmover address bitness during transfers?
We can't magically change the restrictions of Windows, and the restrictions of software publishers. Some software will just not be able to be installed. As a general rule, if you could install the software on a 64-bit system and it ran, we will move it to Windows 11.

Does PCmover support migrations to Arm systems?
We don't support Arm moves.

What's confusing for consumers doing Windows migrations?
A lot of users are confused about the default Microsoft library folders, such as Documents, Pictures and so on. If you have two hard drives in a machine, then there are questions about switching the standard directories to the preferred drive. We created the PC Reconfigurator tool for such circumstances. It asks which drive to use when moving the default libraries. It solves a big pain point for users.

There's still a lot of confusion about cloud storage services. People can't tell what's in the cloud and what's not. Our software makes sure that everything gets moved over, so that files don't have to be downloaded again. We support OneDrive, Box, Dropbox and Google Drive, making it easier for the user.

Do cloud storage IDs need to get migrated to new machines?
No, the cloud storage is all tied to your personal ID, not to the hardware, which is a good thing because, by just typing your credentials, you have access again.

Will there be a free limited-capability PCmover Express product for Windows 11 migrators?
We're working hard with Microsoft and Intel on it. Many of the free PCmover versions were also sponsored by some of our partners. Sometimes the OEMs preinstall the free PCmover base version. So stay tuned on that, as there might be an announcement coming soon.

Did Laplink get any inside Windows 11 information from Microsoft as a partner?
No, but I think Windows 11 was a surprise for everybody, given that Windows 10 was said to be the last client OS. We don't have more insights into Microsoft than anybody else. Likely, Microsoft just didn't want to broadcast secret information to all of its partners. I think that's the case for all of the partners except for key ones like Intel, where there's close cooperation on the chips and software.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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