I have been completely floored by Ubuntu’s new Migration Assistant. It’s certainly something that we have needed in the FLOSS world for a long time. Anything we can do to reduce migratory hurdles is by all means welcome.
To play devil’s advocate, however, I’d like to point out a deficiency of such migration tools. To take an established example, witness Mozilla Firefox on Windows. When you first start it, you are greeted with a friendly wizard to port settings and bookmarks from Internet Explorer. If, like most people, you allow it to proceed, it will replace the carefully-selected default Firefox bookmarks (not to mention the awesome BBC Headlines live bookmark) with those from IE. The result can be a cluttered, advertising-laden (Windows Marketplace, anyone?) monstrocity that has lost the simplicity and original intent of the product being loaded.
The Ubuntu Migration Assistant potentially raises this application-level misdemeanour to an OS-level atrocity. As this review of the utility demonstrates, even the Teletubbies wallpaper of Windows XP can be migrated with ease, not to mention the aforementioned bookmarks. This can ruin the intended look and feel of the OS, thus preventing the user from experiencing the OS in a clean, ‘pristine’ state.
Is this a good or a bad thing? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that the designers of this tool should be careful to select default settings which do not unnecessarily alter the user experience. Tread carefully.