Microsoft Planning Toolkit and Design Guides Released

Microsoft last week released tools for IT pros and partners planning Windows deployments.

One of those tools is the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit version 4.0, which is no longer in beta and can be downloaded here. The toolkit automatically assesses the Windows readiness of up to 100,000 computers "in a matter of hours," according to Redmond's announcement.

In addition, the toolkit will produce proposals for migrating to Microsoft products based on the customer's IT infrastructure. It can discover "all computers within Active Directory and workgroup environments," the announcement explained.

Version 4.0 of the toolkit includes some new features, such as the ability to assess hardware for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 deployments. It can also check for server consolidation using Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization technology and calculate the return on investment. It detects competing virtualization technology from VMware.

For those who just want to check a few PCs to see whether Windows 7 can be deployed, there's a more lightweight solution called the "Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor," which can be downloaded here.

Microsoft offers its Infrastructure Planning and Design Guides for those planning Windows deployments at a conceptual level. New additions include guides on file services, print services, Internet Information Services 7.5 and Active Directory Domain Services. The whole series can be accessed here.

Finally, for those planning security using Microsoft products, a beta of Redmond's Security Baselines was released. The baselines are guides that document best-practice security settings, as well as group policy, for Windows 7, Internet Explorer 8 and BitLocker drive encryption, according to Microsoft's announcement. Microsoft plans to run the beta of Security Baselines until Aug. 17. The beta can be downloaded at the Microsoft Connect site here.

Microsoft also announced last week the release of its IT Infrastructure Threat Modeling Guide. IT pros can use the guide to help develop network defense plans.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.

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