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Hands-on: Using the File and Settings Transfer Wizard in Windows XP Professional

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The File and Settings Transfer Wizard addresses one of the most pressing issues surrounding operating system migration: how to get settings both at the application level and settings quickly moved to the new operating system. Read this article by Louis Columbus to learn about Microsoft’s initial efforts at streamlining this task.
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What’s Included and What Works

The capability to move files and settings from one PC to another is often a time-consuming and imprecise process at best. The idea of having a process included in an operating system for moving both files and settings is a needed one. Its value is in its execution and ability to seamlessly migrate user files and settings from one PC and operating system to another. Microsoft’s File and Transfer Settings Wizard is a step in the right direction in response to many users’ needs for accurately migrating settings. The familiar wizard-like interface that is used for handling the migration steps is easy to use. In my testing of this feature on a server, workstation, and laptop, I found that between laptops this process worked best. On the workstation, there was a disconnect between the network settings and video. Nonetheless, this feature new to Microsoft’s operating system works for the most part, with some polishing needed to get the network and video migrations to work.

Today, the File and Transfer Settings Wizard successfully migrates the following settings and files:

  • Internet Explorer Settings. All settings including security levels made the transition, including the bookmarks.

  • Dial-up Connections. Although Microsoft claims that this transfers, in fact you do need to create the modem and its properties in Whistler before the dial-up connections will work. The definition of the dial-up connections made the transition, yet the modem parameters did not. Although Microsoft claims that XP will also include modem support, this feature did not work on any of the three classes of systems tested in Release Candidate 1(RC1).

  • Outlook and Outlook Express. Obviously very dependent on Exchange Server and settings recorded there by user account, it’s clear that Microsoft has more work to do to migrate both applications’ settings at the same time. RC1 did not support both Outlook and Outlook Express migration.

  • Network Settings. Settings for a 3COM card in a laptop was recognized perfectly and worked for basic network functionality. There was more configuration needed to get the laptop configured so that the laptop could see a VPN, however. At this time, the wizard picks up the basic TCP/IP settings (and even can get DHCP right on a cable modem), yet cannot pick up VPN support and configure it, even when all baseline software is from Microsoft. For a workstation with an SMC Adapter in it, the wizard lost the subnet mask. Clearly, Microsoft needs to work with more network adapter companies to get this feature ready for the launch.

  • Network Drive Mapping. This is a feature that Microsoft is touting in the launch documents from Windows XP Professional. This feature worked well on the laptop, workstation, and server I tested this feature on within a small network. Going through a VPN to password-protected drives did not work, however.

  • Accessories and Desktop Elements. The configuration settings for the utilities and applets found in the Control Panel migrated perfectly. These included the screen saver definitions, mouse and keyboard settings, and the sound settings at the operating system level. The clock also made the transition perfectly.

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