Microsoft Launches Desktop Center for XP

More than a year after the release of Windows XP, Microsoft is intensifying its push for enterprise adoption of the client platform, rolling out a Web-based repository of tools to prod sysadmins into switching operating systems.

Microsoft’s new Desktop Center will shuttle tools to aid IT administrators deploy Windows XP Professional and Office XP and promises to cut down on the time the systems can be set up by almost 70 percent.

The resources, which is being freely distributed, is also available as a Customer Toolkit CD.

More importantly, it sets up a central place for testing application compatibility in specific enterprises and updating security features on the new operating system.

Gartner analyst Michael Silver hailed the move by Microsoft, noting that application compatibility with Windows XP was one of the stumbling blocks for Windows XP adoption among corporate clients.

“It is not uncommon for enterprises to have hundreds or thousands of applications to test for compatibility before deploying a new operating system,” Silver said.

Microsoft has fitted the Windows XP Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) 2.6 on the Desktop Center to cut down on the time used to test and update applications that run on Windows XP.

“The toolkit not only helps evaluate and test applications, it also goes a step further by assisting IT administrators in tailoring adjustments to the applications so they are optimized for Windows XP,” Microsoft said.

The Web-based portal was also fitted with Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) 1.1, a tool that scans corporate desktops for missing security updates and service packs and also identifies common system misconfigurations.

Once an analytical scan is done, the MBSA provides an individual XML security report for each desktop scanned and includes a graphical and command line interface for IT admins looking to perform local or remote scans.

Desktop Center also comes with a calculator to measure return on investment that lets IT managers evaluate the business value of upgrading to Windows XP. It also includes a System Preparation Tool to to reduce the number of images required in a deployment; guides for large-scale deployments and access to TechNet, Microsoft’s security alerts database.Ever since the launch of the heavily-hyped XP platform, enterprise customers have adopted a wait-and-see approach to migration. The major worry is whether in-house applications will run smoothly on XP.

However, Microsoft released numbers from a BearingPoint survey that showed Windows XP was compatible with more than 95 percent of applications used in nine companies tested. Even for the 5 percent with problems, Microsoft said there are tweaks and adjustments from the toolkit to address those issues.