Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a weekly column about the future of technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:
As PC penetration inches closer to saturation in the U.S., more PCs sold every year are replacement units. Upgrading should be a joy for consumers. Who wouldn't want improved speed and expanded capabilities? Instead, however, receiving a new PC is bittersweet because of the chore of migration. Worse, the more consumers have taken advantage of their PCs by installing applications, the bigger a hassle migration is.
Windows provides support only for migrating files and settings, not applications. A couple of years ago, I'd tried a popular commercial product that promised the same. Not only was I stuck with reinstalling all the programs, but it failed to transfer certain Outlook Express email accounts and Palm Desktop data. It was the most horrendous jerky movement since Elaine danced on Seinfeld.
Last year, though, I was intrigued when LapLink Software introduced PCmover. I tried out the product migrating a server and it worked pretty well. However, it wasn't much of a test. There were only a few programs that needed to be transferred to the new computer and no personal data or e-mail. About the only program that complained was iTunes, which worked on the new PC, but warned that it needed to be set up again to work properly with the new PC's CD burner.