Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 5.0 released

Microsoft last week released the next version of a free tool that provides upgrade advice for those using the company's flagship software products.

Microsoft last week released the next version of a free tool that provides upgrade advice for those using the company's flagship software products.

The tool, Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 5.0 (MAP 5), is designed to discover assets across both Windows and Linux environments. It runs without agents in an IT environment, producing reports in Word and Excel formats. The reports provide advice on any needed operating system, software, driver and hardware upgrades when moving up the Microsoft stack.

MAP 5, which is part of Microsoft's "solution accelerators" series of free tools, can help plan upgrades for the following Microsoft software: Windows Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, SQL Server and System Center Configuration Manager. It also helps with planning migrations to Office 2010. If the underlying hardware doesn't support an upgrade, the details will be described in MAP 5's reports.

The tool will discover LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) stacks, as well as Windows stacks. For instance, it provides an assessment for moving from Windows 2000, which no longer gets security updates as of July 13. MAP 5 can also track virtualized server infrastructure.

MAP 5 taps into virtualized servers using Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor but also VMware virtualization products, such as VMware ESX, VMware ESXi and VMware Server. A Microsoft blog points out that MAP 5 "identifies already-virtualized servers running under VMware that can be managed with the Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager platform, or be migrated to the Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor."

MAP 5 assesses devices installed on a computer and generates a report on the availability of drivers needed for a migration. This feature is designed to work when moving to "Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and SQL Server 2008 R2," according to Microsoft's blog.

Microsoft earlier announced that MAP 5 would be demonstrated on the last day at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, which concludes today in Washington, D.C. The main point, according to Joe Matz, corporate vice president of worldwide licensing and pricing at Microsoft, is that customers and partners can use MAP 5 to get reports on Microsoft's client access licensing (CAL), as well as the actual use of Microsoft's products. MAP 5 includes a new "software usage tracker" tool that's designed to help manage those licenses.

"With the new Software Usage Tracker, partners can help their customers understand their CAL license positions and forecast their IT requirements more accurately than ever before," said Matz in a prepared statement. "This new software usage tracker feature of MAP will make it much easier for customers to track and manage licenses in their IT environment."

Microsoft issued documentation on the software usage tracker tool as well as a "Getting Started" guide for MAP 5. The two guides and the MAP 5 application can both be downloaded here.

Microsoft's blog also provides links to six videos that illustrate how to use the MAP 5 toolkit.

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