Microsoft Delivers Tool For Anonymous Windows Vista Upgrades - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Delivers Tool For Anonymous Windows Vista Upgrades

Microsoft's Key Management Service for Windows Server 2003 lets businesses host internally the software needed to activate Vista once a valid key number has been supplied.

Microsoft on Tuesday released a host of software tools designed to allow businesses to more easily upgrade their computers to Windows Vista, including one that lets companies complete the process without transmitting potentially sensitive data to Microsoft.

Microsoft's Key Management Service for Windows Server 2003 lets businesses host internally the software needed to activate Vista once a valid key number has been supplied. Businesses ordinarily need to transmit their Vista key numbers, along with machine IDs, to Microsoft for activation.

"We've found that there are a number of organizations, mostly in the public sector, that aren't comfortable with that or have policies that don't allow that," says Shanen Boettcher, general manager for Windows product management at Microsoft.

Machine IDs are identifiers unique to individual computers or workstations that can be potentially used to identify a device's location or information about the user when cross-referenced with other data such as an IP address. "If you want to keep your network completely closed you can still activate Vista without connecting directly to Microsoft," says Boettcher.

Boettcher says Microsoft developed the tools after receiving a number of requests from business users.

Along with KMS for Windows Server 2003, Microsoft on Tuesday formally released several other upgrade tools -- all available as free downloads. Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0 allows IT staffers to centralize the process of determining which of their company's applications are Vista-compatible. It also helps resolve compatibility issues. An early release version of ACT 5.0 has seen about 30,000 downloads, Boettcher says.

For checking hardware compatibility, Microsoft has released Windows Vista Hardware Assessment 1.0. The network tool performs an inventory of all connected PCs and assesses whether they meet the minimum requirements needed to run Vista.

The new Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment 2007 is a collection of tools and guides that let businesses upgrade PCs to Vista or Microsoft Office 2007 remotely. About 60,000 early copies of the solution have been downloaded, says Boettcher.

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