Explain this one if you can: (a) Microsoft desperately wants to get users to abandon Windows 2000 and spend some new money updating to Windows Vista; (b) Microsoft creates a tool, Easy Transfer, that can migrate data and settings from Windows XP and Win2K PCs to Vista PCs; (c) Microsoft creates a second tool, Easy Transfer Companion, that does even better by migrating installed applications from old PCs to new PCs running Vista -- but (d) it only works if the old PC is running XP. Exactly how does this encourage me to migrate off of Win2K?There is some real news here. Microsoft promised last October it would provide Easy Transfer Companion "when Vista ships." Apparently it meant the consumer ship date at the end of January, not the corporate ship date in November, because it has rather quietly made the utility available as a download.
I should be congratulating Microsoft for easy Transfer Companion -- after all, it's never been able to migrate an installed app from one Windows PC to another before. (Who'd have thought that would be so hard for the company that created the operating system? But apparently either Microsoft wasn't good enough to make it work, or it saw some financial advantage in depriving us of the convenience.)
But rather than congratulatory, I'm angry. Now, with money on the table, application migration works -- but not for the people the software company most especially wants to move to Vista? Easy Transfer works for Win2K but Easy Transfer Companion doesn't?
I have to cut Microsoft a little slack here. After all, ever since it cut off official support for Win2K it has enforced a hard and fast "screw the Win2K user" policy -- Office 2007 won't install on a Win2K PC, Internet Explorer won't upgrade to V.7 on a Win2KPC, and so on. With Easy Transfer Companion it's obviously very cleverly strategized itself into what the psychologists call a "double bind:" on the one hand, if it allowed Easy Transfer Companion to work for Win2K users (and I know of no technical reason why it shouldn't -- it's my understanding Win2K and WinXP are basically identical in the way they treat the registry and applications) then it would be violating its give-no-comfort-to-Win2K-users rule. But on the other hand, if it actually wants to migrate Win2K users off the unsupported operating system and get them to pay for Vista, it would have to waive its own rule and support Win2K again, just a little bit.
The decision is pretty clear: the Microsoft bureaucracy chose to be right rather than popular.
(XP users shouldn't expect to get all of the benefits and none of the abuse, by the way -- if you're thinking about transferring your files an apps from an XP machine to a new Vista PC, remember that you have to go through Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage validation for both machines before you can download Easy Transfer Companion.)
We've all worked for companies where we heard the jokes about the "Department of Sales Prevention." Apparently, it's located pretty high up in the org chart at Microsoft.