Microsoft adds still another compatibility tool to Vista arsenal

Microsoft adds still another compatibility tool to Vista arsenal

Summary: Does Microsoft know something about app compatibility and Windows Vista that the rest of us don’t? Is there some compatibility bombshell the team is waiting to drop on or before the business launch of Vista and Office 2007 in New York City on November 30?

TOPICS: Windows

Does Microsoft know something about app compatibility and Windows Vista that the rest of us don’t? Is there some compatibility bombshell the team is waiting to drop on or before the business launch of Vista and Office 2007 in New York City on November 30?

I ask because of announcements like the one Microsoft made today. On November 1, Microsoft and a handful of systems-integrator partners unveiled the Vista Application Compatibility Factory, an initiative via which Microsoft will help business customers pair up with Vista-deployment experts to guide users over potential app-compat hurdles.

The participating integrators include Wipro Technologies, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), and Satyam Computer Services. (I hear there are others who may join in, too, including EDS.)

Microsoft’s stated explanation as to why the company is launching the Application Compatibility Factory comes from Dave Wascha, director of the Windows client business group:

“We know that customers are excited about Windows Vista but may be reluctant to deploy in the first months after availability because historically application compatibility has been a major concern that they were left to deal with on their own. We’re doing everything we can to help customers through this process with ACF and other tools such as the Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0.”

Makes perfect sense. But Microsoft already has the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT), the new version of which is due to launch alongside Vista; Business Desktop Deployment Solution Accelerator; the soon-to-be-unveiled Windows Easy Transfer Companion migration tool – and, as my ZDNet blogging colleague George Ou has so often (and so zealously) mentioned – shimming functionality, all of which are designed to ease compatibility woes.

Do users really need Microsoft-brokered partner services to pull off a seamless Vista migration? The more app-compat tools, the merrier, said Windows client group product manager Stella Chernyak.

The Application Compatibility Factory partners will “have access to Microsoft’s own application-compatibility SWAT team,” making them especially well qualified to guide enterprise customers through any rough Vista deployment patches.

(Chernyak was Microsoft Russia’s employee No. 3, and has been part of the Windows team since 1999.)

“We don’t think there will be more (compatibility) issues with Vista than we had with XP,” she said. “We’re more trying to address the perception” that app-compat problems are a good reason to delay Vista deployments.

“We’re trying to be proactive and address it.” The focus of the App Compat Factory will be on custom, line-of-business applications, as opposed to ISV-developed, shrink-wrapped ones, Chernyak added.

Meanwhile, Chernyak said that Microsoft also is readying a Release Candidate (RC) test build of ACT 5.0. The new build, due sometime soon (no firm date yet available), will include an improved user interface, as well as enhancements for pushing app-compat testing results to customers, she said.

“We feel very good about the tools we are making available,” Chernyak said, as well as on where Microsoft is at, app-compatibility-wise with Vista."

“By the time Vista RTMs (releases to manufacturing), we will have tested 1,900 apps for compatibility,” Chernyak said. “We know the issues and we know the vendors we need to work with. (For example), we built a new TCP/IP stack with Vista, so we know we need to work on apps around that."

“With Vista, we want there to be less shimming required. When it is required, we want it to be easier,” she added.

So when is Microsoft going to make public a list of apps that don’t work with Vista? Still nothing to announce there, Chernyak said.

Topic: Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Microsoft's own components aren't compatible.

    Try using any of Microsoft's controls (ActiveX) in your coding and you will quickly see where the problem is. Microsoft hasn't digitally signed their own products. sigh...
    • agreed, and did you notice this....

      "?We?re more trying to address the perception? that app-compat problems are a good reason to delay Vista deployments."

      Umm, but they are a good reason. Why would you want to change a correct perception to a flawed one? (don't answer that, it was rhetorical)
  • Excited about Vista?

    You know, this is exactly where computing has gone terribly wrong...

    No one, and I mean NO ONE (ok, maybe unix junkies :) should be getting excited about an _Operating System_.

    An operating system should have one purpose in life, and that's to support and run APPLICATIONS.

    When operating systems start generating excitement, they are NO LONGER OPERATING SYSTEMS.

    This is, of course, why we have 100 million code line operating systems like Windows Visa. It tries to be too much.

    The OS should be solid, stable, as bug free as possible and as secure as possible.

    THEN you write the EXCITING apps that run on the Operating System.

    We made a wrong turn somewhere, and Microsoft had a lot do do with it.
    • I don't think anyone is.

      It's the new functionality that it supports, not necessarily provides directly, that have most admins I know wanting to get there.
      An OS may be defined as you define it, but perhaps the OS is evolving over time. As certain new areas of IT evolve and new applications and tools become mainstream, the OS must evolve to support them. In the early days those at Berkley were making an issue of the Government's demand to implement tcp/ip as part of the OS. And gosh I think the federal goverment was right in that instance.
      IT evolves, the OS must evolve with it. You can't keep building support at the application level forever. That would be worse than the OS slowly becoming bigger and create even more and greater problems.
      April May
  • ALL I need is an OS to drive DiRX

    I could car less if when I booted my sistem it was a blank screen with a long as it will operate my Graphics cards and run a DIR X 10 games WHO CARES .I can use XP and MS office 97 for the next 10 years All a majority of users want is to be able to upgrade and have an OS that will work with the next generation of hardware comming...
  • Botched releases keep most from upgrading

    Having seen too many messed up releases most prudent IT people wont upgrade to Vista without testing there own in house apps, and a lot won't install it until SP1 is out and tested.

    One item that forces us to start upgrades is pc vendors that won't sell pc's without the latest OS on it, or the exec's come in with there latest toy and expect us to support it.

    I still have nightmares of installing NT SP4 on my Lotus Notes Server...