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Group to ease moving files to a new PC

Intel, IBM, Microsoft and several other companies form a coalition to address the hassles of moving old data onto a new computer.

Intel, IBM, Microsoft and several other hardware and software makers have formed a coalition to ease the pain of moving old data onto a new PC.

The three heavy-hitters, along with lesser-known companies Altiris, Detto Technologies, Eisenworld, Laplink, Miramar Systems, Symantec and Tranxition, all pitched in to form the PC Migration Work Group, announced this week. The group will work to reduce the time and effort it takes to move data and personal settings from one PC to another.

Typically it takes at least a couple of hours for a person to set up a replacement PC, which involves transferring data such as word processing documents and e-mail between the old and new machines. Users also typically have to tweak a host of Windows preferences and settings, the group said. Such hassles do little to increase a user's affection for the PC.

Aside from placating consumers, the group thinks it can help companies save money. It cites a report from Gartner, whose research shows businesses could save an average of $250 per computer by using migration software.

The coalition's long-term plan is to create a set of standards that will let all the various PC makers offer software that will catalog existing data and then shuttle it over.

In the near term, the group will promote migration technology that is already in place and work with software developers to make the transition between PCs easier, the group said in a statement.

IBM, for example, has developed on its own a host of software designed to help migrate data such as user settings from PC to PC. Big Blue has built these capabilities into its RapidRestore software. RapidRestore is an application IBM offers for its own and other Windows-based PCs that maintains a special copy of a user's data on its own partition of the hard drive. The software can quickly restore files that are lost or corrupted, using the extra copy of the data.

And IBM has already shown that companies are interested in migration software. It has won a contract from Kodak, which recently chose Big Blue to replace 40,000 desktops and notebooks, in part because of RapidRestore.