In an ideal world, Windows Vista would have been great and Microsoft's Vista-to-Windows 7 migration tools would have satisfied most use cases. But that wasn't the reality, and companies that chose never to adopt Vista were given no good options by Microsoft to automate the move from XP straight to Windows 7.
Zinstall and its XP7 automatic migration tool have filled that void since late 2009. The company last week announced that Lifeboat would distribute the $89 tool in North America in addition to current distributor Synnex. The CRN Test Center this week looked at the latest version of Zinstall XP7 -- version 2.6 -- which corrects a rare but serious boot.ini error, works better with firewalls and supports running old apps directly on the new Win7 desktop.
Installing and using XP7 went much as one might expect. A quick download, install and license key insertion is followed by a prompt asking whether you're simply upgrading the operating system on a single machine or moving data from one machine to another. If the latter, it then asks if you're working at the new machine or the old one. If again the latter, it lists ways to connect the two machines and then to run XP7 on the new machine.
By the way, this tool is non-destructive for either machine. On the source computer (running XP), it simply reads data and sends it over the wire to the target (Windows 7) machine, which uses the data to implement an XP virtual machine. The tool overtakes both machines, and neither can be used for anything else during the transfer process.
Now working from the target, testers ran XP7 again, and when prompted indicated that it was the new computer. A large window then appeared with two panes, one each to represent source and target machines and their storage volumes. An advanced button offers to protect the tool with a password, to control of a filter for excluding files, the ability to drill into source and target volumes.
By the way, when we chose to transfer files via an existing network, which happened to be wireless, a courteous message appeared warning us that such a transfer medium would be slow and prone to failure. We did it anyway.
They weren't kidding about WiFi transfers being slow. The process of transferring our XP hard drive of about 100GB, took almost three hours. On the plus side, XP7 reports its status all the way through the process, including a progress bar and timer that counts down the estimated time to completion. A fairly large window led testers to expect that a file list would be zooming by, but instead displays tasks that the program is performing.
Once the file transfer was completed, XP7 operated for another 10 minutes to prepare the virtual Windows XP image and populate it with the transferred data. Once the process was completely finished, all programs were immediately available for execution; there was no need to reinstall. In our first test, XP7 worked flawlessly. We also plan to test Zinstall's other migration products, including those for Windows 7 to Windows 7, Windows XP to VDI and the mobile version.
Zinstall XP7 lists for $89 per machine upgrade. Resellers' pricing is determined by the distributor, and site licensing is available on a case-by-case basis.