Microsoft is making available beta versions of new tools aimed at hardware makers and software developers who want to develop Windows-7-compatible products while maintaining Vista compatibility.
On September 10, Microsoft opened up the public beta of the Platform Update for Windows Vista. The final version is due in the fourth quarter of this year, according to the Softies.
Weren't almost all Vista apps supposed to work automatically on Windows 7? If so, why do developers need yet another porting tool? A Microsoft spokesperson sent me the following response:
"The majority of Windows Vista applications test to work well on Windows 7 as we planned by maintaining security, driver and run-time models. The goal of the Platform Update is to help developers and IHVs to write applications or develop hardware that take advantage of Windows7 features (such as Ribbon and DirectX 11) while still being able to target a customer base that includes Windows Vista. Existing Windows features can be expressed by using APIs (application programming interfaces) that are consistent with Windows 7."
Specifically, the Platform Update -- which is a set of runtime libraries -- includes the Windows Ribbon and Animation Manager Library; DirectX updates for hardware acceleration; DirectCompute for hardware-accelerated parallel computing support; the XPS printing library; the Windows Automation API; and the Windows Portable Devices Platform, which standardizes data transfers across apps and portable devices.
Who's the primary target audience for the Update? Developers doing "games and multimedia applications that take advantage of the new features in DirectX 11, and a lot of mobile phones that wirelessly sync with music applications like Rhapsody using MTP over Bluetooth," the spokesperson said.
Microsoft is planning to make the Platform Update to all Windows Vista customers over Windows Update, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), System center Configuration Manager and "other third-party desktop management tools" so that developers who use the Platform libraries in building their products "can feel confident knowing it is broadly deployed." Via a new post on the Microsoft Windows Team blog, Microsoft added that "third-party applications that require the Platform Update for Windows Vista can have Windows Update detect whether or not it is installed; if not, Windows Update will download and install it silently in the background."
Microsoft also announced today the availability of the near-final Release Candidate test build of the Windows Management Framework. That package -- which includes Windows PowerShell 2.0, Windows Remote management 2.0, and Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) 4.0 -- allows IT pros to more easily manage mixed XP, Vista and Windows 7 networks. The final version of Windows Management Framework also is due in the fourth quarter.