The Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 5.5 Beta testing program is now opened for early adopters with the bits available for download through Microsoft Connect.

Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 5.5 is the successor of MAP Toolkit 5.0 which was released in the summer of 2010, and was focused on streamlining migrations to Windows 7 and Office 2010.

As the official label of the solution accelerator implies, the tool is designed to allow IT professionals to assess the environments in their organization and to plan migrations to such software as Windows 7, Office 2010, and Internet Explorer 8.

However, it appears that with version 5.0 of the MAP Toolkit, Microsoft is also lending a helping hand to admins that will upgrade to IE9.

As far as MAP Toolkit 5.5 is concerned, the software giant reveals that the solution accelerator will enable customers to “assess your environment for upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows Internet Explorer 8 (or the latest version).

“The MAP 5.5 Internet Explorer Upgrade Assessment inventories your environment and reports on deployed web browsers, Microsoft ActiveX controls, plug-ins and toolbars, and then generates a migration assessment report and proposal—information you need to more easily migrate to Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8 (or the latest version),” the company reveals.

While the Redmond company doesn’t actually mention IE9, fact is that this is what it means by “the latest version.”

However, MAP 5.5 is also designed to play nice with additional technologies from Microsoft, beyond Windows 7, Office 2010 and IE.

The tool is capable of evaluating web applications and databases for customers looking to migrate to Windows Azure and SQL Azure.

“MAP identifies web applications, IIS servers, and SQL Server databases, analyzes their performance characteristics, and estimates required cloud features such as number of Windows Azure compute instances, number of SQL Azure databases, bandwidth usage, and storage,” the software giant noted.

At the same time, Microsoft has also worked to get customers running non-SQL Server databases to migrate to its data platform. This is why MAP 5.5 support heterogeneous database inventory with support for MySQL, Oracle, and Sybase instances.

And of course, with more and more companies looking to embrace virtualization, MAP 5.5 is set up to offer customers enhanced server consolidation assessments for Hyper-V.

“Enhanced server consolidation capabilities help you save time and effort when creating virtualization assessments and proposals,” Microsoft noted.

The Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 5.0 is available for download here.

Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) Beta is available for download x86 or x64.

Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) Platform Preview 6 (PP6) is available for download here.

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