Microsoft Smooths Road to Vista with Apptimum Buy

The company plans to use technology from Apptimum, best known for its "Alohabob" PC relocation products, to ease the Vista migration.

Microsoft announced March 7 that it is has acquired application-transfer specialist Apptimum for an undisclosed sum.

Formerly Eisenworld, Apptimum, based in Sunrise, Fla., began in 1998 and is best known for PC relocation products branded with the vacation-friendly moniker "Alohabob," named after the founders father, who lives in Hawaii.

Microsofts plans for the acquired intellectual property and technology assets of Apptimum are focused on streamlining the application transfer process between older and newer computers, with an emphasis on Windows Vista migration.

Vista is slated for release at the end of this year.

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"Our goal is to make the application transfer experience easier and faster for customers," said Gabriel Dorfman, Product Manager in the Windows group at Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash.

The technology is planned to be an optional download for Windows Vista customers in the future, though the timing of this particular release is not known at this time, according to Dorfman.

"Microsoft wanted to supplement what we are calling the core transfer experience, an area we have been focusing on with Vista, by including some technology that was application-centric. We expect that this transfer experience will have the ability to understand how applications work, how they are modeled and how to read them in new environments. Apptimum was found to be the best overall market choice for helping us to accomplish our needs. They had the best fundamental approach," Dorfman said.

Joe Wilcox, an analyst with JupiterResearch of Jupitermedia, based in Darien, Conn., said he believes this is a good move for Microsoft.

"Right now, on Windows, changing computers is a real pain. On a new Mac, during setup, the user can choose an option for migrating applications. The process is little more difficult than connecting two computers. A similar capability would be useful for Windows Vista, particularly if Microsoft wants to lure XP users. Remember that XP is nearly five years old, and there are many customers with applications and settings they would want to keep," Wilcox said.

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Details on specific applications covered by this future product are not being announced at this time, but Dorfman said the intention is that this product will work "with some custom and some off-the-shelf" applications and added that it would touch "consumer, SMB [small and midsize business] and some Enterprise applications."

Asked if this acquisition was focused solely on Microsoft applications, Dorfman said it was not, and when asked if users could infer that this acquisition meant that there was an expectation that Vista will have application migration issues, he said, "No. Not at all."

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