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 »

Microsoft has reduced the number of product keys available to TechNet subscribers from ten to maximum five, for security reasons.

The change was first related by Microsoft blogger Paul Thurrott, less than a week ago, qualifying it as a supposed TechNet bug and on September 19, he updated his bog and confirmed it was intentional.

Apparently this reduction of the number of product-license keys was done without notice, according to The Register, even if Microsoft says it was mainly a security measure, meant to prevent piracy.

Here is Microsoft’s response to Mary Jo Foley’s questions about the change in the number of product-license keys:

“Microsoft is committed to helping prevent software piracy, which often results in end users being the victims of software counterfeiters. More »

Although it is currently cooking Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), Microsoft continues to ensure that the latest version of its Windows client continues to evolve even ahead of the upgrade planned for the first half of 2011.

Case in point, two application compatibility updates offered by the Redmond company to customers this week.

Accompanying the updates are two knowledge base articles, including KB 2272691 (Application Compatibility Update for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: August 2010).

In addition, the software giant also released KB 982110 (The QueryPathOfRegTypeLib function does not return the correct path for a 32-bit version of an application in a 64-bit edition of Windows 7 or in Windows Server 2008 R2). More »

Since Microsoft will not provide a direct upgrade path from Beta to RTM, early adopters already testing Windows 7 Service Pack 1 will need to download the first public development milestone of the upgrade. At the same time, since Windows 7 SP1 is in Beta stage, the service pack could introduce various problems on a machine, specifically issues that weren’t there when users were running the RTM flavor of the operating system. In such cases, and in others, customers might need to uninstall Windows 7 SP1 Beta.

One thing to keep in mind is that when installing the service pack, backup files are created in order to ensure that removal will be possible. In this regard, customers should steer clear of the Disk Cleanup Wizard, which will erase the backup files, making the uninstall process impossible. More »

Microsoft is inviting early adopters to download, deploy and test the first upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is in Beta stage at this point in time, and as such not meant for installation into production environments. “The public beta is best suited for IT pros, tech enthusiasts and developers who need to test the service pack in their organization or with the software they are developing,” revealed Stephen L Rose, Sr. Community Manager – Windows IT Pro Client.

Windows 7 SP1 Beta was released to the public earlier this month, and is an excellent preview of the first upgrade for the OS. In this regard, customers are bound to notice no new features have been added, and this because the software giant only intended to deliver a minor upgrade and nothing more. More »