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. More »

Customers that are using Linux and Windows Server in the same environment can also turn to a free resource from Microsoft designed to enhance the performance of the open source operating system when used together with the Redmond company’s hypervisor role. Best Practices for Running Linux on Hyper-V is a whitepaper offered free through the Microsoft Download Center, set up to highlight virtualization benefits associated with Linux on Hyper-V. At the same time, customers with heterogeneous environments can leverage the best practices described in the whitepaper in order to boost the performance of Linux when used as a guest operating system on a Hyper-V host.

“Most data centers use a variety of applications and operating systems. If you use both Linux and Windows operating systems, you can use Hyper-V to take advantage of the benefits of virtualization across your data center,” an excerpt from the whitepaper reads. “Hyper-V, the Microsoft hypervisor-based server virtualization platform, provides virtualization capabilities through the Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system infrastructure. Hyper-V lets you efficiently run multiple operating systems in parallel on a single server and fully capitalize on the power of x64 computing.” More »

Following the availability of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 RTM/SP1 Microsoft has literally joined its client and server operating systems at the hip. So much so that the client can stretch all the way to the server and manage the hypervisor role. This scenario was valid with the first service pack for Vista, and it continues to be valid after the release of SP2. All that end users need to do is make sure that they deploy the Update for Windows Vista Service Pack 2 Management Tools for Hyper-V. The Refresh will allow Vista SP2 users to remotely manage a server running Windows Server 2008 with the Hyper-V role enabled.

“This update package includes fixes for the Hyper-V Management Tools on systems that are running Windows Vista Service Pack 2,” Microsoft explained. “The Hyper-V Management Tools must be installed in order to install this update.”

The update is offered in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors, tailored to the respective versions of Vista SP2. Microsoft released SP2 for Vista to manufacturing at the end of April 2009. A month later, the first five languages of Vista SP2 were released to web for download, and through Windows Update. The end of June 2009 brought with it the final wave of Vista SP2 releases. Now Vista SP2 RTM and Windows Server 2008 SP2 RTM are available for download in all localized versions, in correlation with the supported languages for the two platforms. More »

Microsoft is introducing a similar strategy for Windows 7 as it did for Windows Vista when it comes down to offering customers resources designed to streamline the adoption process. With the next iteration of the Windows client having debuted into public Beta at the beginning of January 2009, the Redmond company has adapted a solution accelerator initially offered for Windows Vista to Windows 7. With the February 2009 release of Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP), the toolkit is designed to integrate seamlessly with both Windows 7 Beta client and Windows 7 Server Beta (Windows Server 2008 R2).

“Our team have just released an update to the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit 3.2 for Windows migration that is now available to install on a machine with Windows 7 Beta. Check out the MAP Toolkit now and start planning your desktop deployment projects,” revealed Baldwin Ng, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Solution Accelerators, earlier this week. However, Ng pointed out that while the latest release of MAP 3.2 does indeed play nice with both Windows 7 client Beta and Windows Server 2008 R2, the solution accelerator is not designed to assess infrastructures for compatibility, readiness and hardware resources necessary to run the next version of the Windows operating system. More »