Windows Easy Transfer

The family I am currently staying with bought a new 1440×900 monitor for their reasonably old Windows XP computer. However, the onboard graphics card wouldn’t support that resolution, and so the desktop was stretched – it looked terrible. I tried installing a second graphics card (I couldn’t see how to turn the first one off in the BIOS) but that didn’t work very well. The machine kept failing to boot. It eventually turned out that the cheapest fix was to get Dell to send them a brand new computer, including another monitor the same size!

I was somewhat apprehensive about them having to spend ages setting it up, but as we were preparing to do a long migration, Windows popped up a Welcome Centre, and told us about something called “Windows Easy Transfer“. You run it on the Vista machine, it gives you an app to go and run on the XP computer, and then that app gathers up all the data and settings for all the accounts, bundles them up, and puts them into the correct places on the new computer (so e.g. pictures go in the new Pictures area, rather than My Documents/My Pictures). It imports all settings, wallpaper, the lot. It’s incredibly easy to use, and 2GB of data and settings moved across in a very short time. It can use a special cable, a network, CDs, DVDs or (the option I chose) one or more flash drives.

The family now feel quite at home on the new machine. Full marks to Microsoft. Some stuff from very old apps which didn’t use “Application Data” for data files had to be moved manually, but that’s not their fault.

So my question: does Linux have a Windows -> Linux migration tool like this? You would click “Migrate from Windows” on your Linux box, and it would either pull everything across the network, or give you an app to run on the Windows machine to tarball it all up and copy it across.

If not, why not?

4 thoughts on “Windows Easy Transfer

  1. I can’t find the main web page for the application, but Ubuntu Feisty did include the Windows Migration Assistant. It migrated Bookmarks, IM clients, and some other stuff. I’m not sure how much application data was transferred. Googling for “ubuntu windows migration assistant” should return some good links. Good articles on it here: and here: Seems it does also transfer “My Documents” and the like.

  2. I just thought: surely it should be possible to leverage all the hard work Microsoft have done in ferreting out all your data and settings, and write a Linux-based program which takes Easy Transfer files and unpacks them into the right places on Linux? If we can decipher the file format, the program could be slowly enhanced to make use of more and more of the information in the archive.

    Of course, Microsoft may then modify the Easy Transfer EULA to forbid the software from being used to migrate away from Windows…