Windows Easy Transfer is a tool intended to help you transfer your files between two computers, e.g. when you buy a new PC and you do not want to lose your old files and settings. It is capable of copying user accounts, documents, browser favorites, e-mail application settings, among other files.
This application comes with Windows 7, but it also works in XP and Vista. However, for these two versions, you will have to download it from the Microsoft website; the good news is that both are free.
Using this program is easy as it comes in the form of a wizard, which will guide you through all the steps. Notice, however, that the steps to perform on the source computer are different from the ones on the target machine. Three different transfer ways are available. As the most efficient (and most costly) alternative, you can use an easy-transfer cable. Additionally, you can transfer your data over the network or using an external drive.
Notice that although you will be able to transfer your programs, this does not mean that you will be able to use them on the other machine. Most programs require installations, which are specific to the running operating system and make some changes to the Registry. However, I cannot see what impedes creating a program capable of transferring and installing programs between machines running similar versions of an operating system with no need for the installer.
I certainly found reports of bad experiences with this application, but most of the times, they are related to people expecting too much from it or blaming the program for system errors or their own mistakes. In general, Windows Easy Transfer is an intuitive application that can save you much time when you need to migrate to Windows 7.
One disadvantage is that it does not allow changing the target drive; but it is understandable as many files will not work unless they are located exactly where they were on the source computer. In addition, some viruses will take advantage of this transfer to move into the new computer, a risk that you will always face, even using other methods. Just try to install a good antivirus on the target computer before performing any transfer. However, it would be a good thing if the developers incorporated some kind of antivirus protection within the application, including at least some of the viruses known to be using this process to spread.