Engadget is carrying a full review of PCMover, a $50 program (priced per migration, not for unlimited use) that moves all of your applications, data files, and registry settings to a new (or another) PC and even works when upgrading from older to newer operating systems. Having done computer switches several times over the last few years, I can tell you that $50 is a small price to pay for the headache and pain in the ass of having to reinstall programs and customizing your system to how you want it (I personally have a lot of RegEdit stuff that I’ve done that I like to retain and have to duplicate when changing machines).
The Engadget post gives the software a fairly favorable review:
Every application on the new computer worked. All settings were intact. The issues that cropped up were pretty trivial.
You should read the full post about all of the tester’s experiences and some of the issues, but overall, it seems like a pretty impressive product; I’ll certainly be trying/using it the next time I have to switch machines.
It would be interesting to see a cost analysis on the $50 software cost vs. the effective hourly wage for an IT person at a company that performs these sort of services; my guess would be that the PCMover option is cheaper (if you look at a $30K per year salary, which is an effective hourly wage of around $15 not including benefits, and assume that it takes about 4 hours to do a migration — that’s about $60) and leads to a better user experience.