Microsoft is readying a new version of its Application Compatibility Toolkit for Windows 7. The first
test version will be out in April and will support Windows 7 "pre-releases."
(Not so coincidentally, April is cited by many Microsoft watchers as the month Microsoft is likely to release publicly the near-final Release Candidate for Windows 7.)
The app-compat toolkit timing comes from Microsoft Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich, who recently participated in a roundtable for IT pros, where he answered customer questions on Windows 7. The first part of the transcript from that roundtable is now available on the Microsoft Springboard Series blog.
Microsoft released an updated version of the app-compat toolkit (version 5.0) for Vista and XP SP2 in September 2008. Here's how the Softies describe ACT:
"A lifecycle management tool for your applications, ACT 5.0 assists in identifying and managing your overall application portfolio, reducing the cost and time involved in resolving application compatibility issues, and helps you quickly deploy Windows Vista and Windows XP/SP2 operating systems."
Microsoft officials have said to expect application compatibility levels with Windows 7 to be comparable to what they are with Vista. In other words, if an app or driver works on Vista, it is highly likely to work on Win 7. Software that won't run on Vista is also unlikely to work on Windows 7.
Here are a few of the new Windows 7 app-compat Q's and Russinovich-provided A's that caught my interest (from Part 1 of the Springboard Series blog transcript):
Q: Will there be an Application Compatibility Toolkit available for Windows 7 like there was for Windows Vista? When might that be available? A: Yes. We plan on releasing an update to the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) in April to support Windows 7 pre-releases. There will also be a version corresponding with Windows 7 release to manufacturing (RTM).
Q: What kinds of improvements are being made in the area of application compatibility testing and migration? A: There will be a version of the Application Compatibility Toolkit to support Windows 7 available in the April 2009 timeframe. Additionally, the Windows system application compatibility fix (shim) database is constantly extended with each Windows release milestone.
Q: Windows 7 performance out of the box experience does seem much better than Windows Vista, but is there anything that addresses the overall issue of performance degradation over time that plagues devices over time without having to configure or buy and configure additional third party software? A: Microsoft has invested in PerfTrack, an automated reporting feature in Windows that tracks the performance of over 400 experiences on the PC. Windows 7 also includes troubleshooters such as IE Performance as well as a Check for Performance Issues to help users check for performance issues over time.
And if you're interested in why Win 7 is so much quicker to start up than Vista is, Russinovich offers the answer in a nutshell.
(There are at least two much-expanded essays on Win 7 performance from the Engineering Windows 7 blog, if you don't care for nutshells.) Q: Why is Windows 7 more quick to start up compared to Windows Vista? A: In working to improve performance for startup we have focused on making improvements in the following areas:
- The efficiency of core Windows code
- Only starting certain services when they are needed (demand-start services)
- The way device drivers are initialized
- Allowing multiple device drivers to start at the same time (parallelization)
- An overall reduction in the memory and CPU required to start and run the graphics system