Microsoft has opened up the beta program for the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit 8.5. MAP is one part of Microsoft's Solutions Accelerators. If you're already familiar with the Solutions Accelerators, you'll remember that this program is where the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT), an extremely important and popular Windows deployment technology, was born.

MAP provides tools and information to help you plan your Windows 2012 deployment, but also aids in preparing your environment for migration to Windows Azure Virtual Machines.

The MAP 8.5 beta includes these new features:

  • Newly designed user interface makes it easier to find and use the right MAP scenario for the task at hand.
  • Usage tracking scenarios for Lync, SharePoint and Exchange have been updated to include the latest versions.
  • Advances in virtual machine discovery offer improved VM inventory results.
  • New Windows Volume Licensing scenario helps identify the licensing status of your desktop computers.

You can download the beta from Microsoft Connect here: Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit