Saturday, 22 May 2010 12:45

Parallels targets XP mainstream with Windows 7 upgrade tool


A new product from virtualisation specialist Parallels promises to take the pain out of upgrading to Windows 7.

Parallels Desktop Upgrade to Windows 7 is a somewhat clumsy name for software that's aimed at making life easier. It addresses two of the main problems that arise when upgrading a PC to Windows 7.

Firstly, Microsoft has not provided an upgrade process for those moving from Windows XP to Windows 7 - the official route is to do a clean install. While there's something to be said for starting afresh with a completely clean system, having to reinstall all of the programs and readjust all of the settings can be a time-consuming process.

Secondly, the two lower-end versions of Windows 7 lack the ability to run incompatible XP programs in a virtualised environment.

Parallels Desktop Upgrade to Windows 7 "makes it truly super-simple to upgrade to Windows 7," Jack Zubarev, president of Parallels' service provider division, told iTWire.

Windows 7 is now moving into the mainstream, whereas earlier upgraders where mainly technically oriented people. A survey found that around 80% of XP users expected compatibility problems when upgrading to Windows 7, and a similar number wanted a product that would ease the transition.

Hence Parallels Desktop Upgrade to Windows 7. It performs an automated, in-place upgrade, Zubarev said, moving programs, documents and settings to the new operating system. The wizard-based process gives the option of migrating all programs to the new OS, or only those selected by the user.

What else does the product do? Please read on.

Like Parallels Switch to Mac product (which was aimed at Windows users that were switching to Mac OS X and wanted to take some of their old programs with them), Parallels Desktop Upgrade to Windows 7 includes video tutorials covering the differences between the operating systems.

Zubarev suggests the program also will be of use to those going from Vista to Windows 7 where the combination of editions doesn't allow upgrading without reinstallation from scratch.

Once Windows 7 is installed and configured, Parallels' software provides a virtual machine to run incompatible XP programs. The VM doesn't start until it is actually required by a program, and uses similar technology to the Coherence feature in the company's Mac OS X virtualisation product to put XP windows directly onto the Windows 7 desktop (rather than presenting an XP desktop within a window). Programs running in the XP VM access Windows 7's files.

Parallels Desktop Upgrade to Windows 7 is available in two versions. The software alone costs $US39.99/$A53.48, but an extra $US10 ($A price TBA) buys a cable to move programs, files and settings from an old PC running XP to a new one running Windows 7. An external hard drive or a network share can be used as intermediaries, but according to Parallels officials the USB transfer cable is the fastest method.



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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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