Microsoft also last week bought the Virtual Machine assets of Connectix Corp., giving the Redmond, Wash., software company a solution that will enable its customers running legacy Windows NT 4 business applications to continue to run these as a virtual machine alongside the upcoming Windows Server 2003 product family. "Application compatibility is one of those things that you just dive into and keep hammering away at. So, as weve gone into best practices and a prioritized set of issues around what customers run into, we reflect that knowledge back in the tools we provide people," Weed said.The upgraded tools will help enterprise customers reduce deployment time for Windows XP by as much as 67 percent compared with Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT 4, Weed said. A recent Microsoft study, audited by BearingPoint Inc. (formerly KPMG Consulting), which evaluated nine companies with more than 800 applications using the tool kit, found Windows XP was compatible with more than 95 percent of the applications on deployment, he said. The new portal also includes a calculator to measure the return on investment and thus the overall business value of upgrading to Windows XP; a system preparation tool designed to reduce the number of images required in a deployment; guides for large-scale deployments; and access to other deployment resources, including TechNet. Centura Health is one of the enterprise XP migration success stories that Microsoft is touting. Centura moved to Windows XP from Windows 95 as it needed a simplified, standardized and more secure operating system environment for its 5,000 desktops and 750 laptops. Kraig Sullivan, Centuras director of strategic technologies, said he expects savings of tens of thousands of dollars a year in third-party licensing fees due to the built-in security features found in Windows XP. "Relying on applications from both ends of the performance and complexity spectrum makes it vital to have a desktop system that can run what we need. We are using Windows Application Compatibility mode for three of our four older applications, with the rest running in native mode where, surprisingly, they often require no significant tweaking to work," he said.
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"What holds customers back from moving to XP is the effort and cost involved, so we are committed to working to keep helping customers with this and to releasing our tools as often and broadly as we can," he said.