Microsoft has released the beta of a tool that will test business PCs to see if they are compatible with Windows Vista.

Users can download the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment 2.0 Public Beta online now. The application helps business users see how much effort it will take to migrate desktops in a company to Vista by testing the hardware and device-driver capability of PCs against the operating system (OS), and issuing reports about those results, according to Microsoft's internal Windows Vista blog.

In addition to testing hardware for Vista, the software also will check to see if a PC is compatible with the Office 2007 suite, according to Microsoft.

To download the beta, users need a Windows Live or Passport log-on so they can first register for the beta programme.

Since making Windows Vista available to business customers last November, Microsoft has offered a host of tools to help customers with the deployment of the new OS, with two more coming earlier this week at its TechEd 2007 conference in Orlando.

Released at the show, the Data Encryption Toolkit for Mobile PCs helps IT administrators set encryption policies for laptops in an enterprise using the encrypting file system and new BitLocker features of Windows Vista, while the Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) Test Drive allows enterprises to run a virtual version of Vista on PCs to see how it will interact with existing applications.