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The development double-helix answer to Vista upgrade headaches

Being an Apple devotee but still a techy at heart I find it more painful than most to discuss the topic of Vista upgrades (or maybe we all share the same pain regardless huh?) – so I’ve been doing a little reading on application DNA to see if getting a hold on the “development double-helix” (hey – I should market that) might hold the answer, or least part of it.
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Written by Adrian Bridgwater on

Being an Apple devotee but still a techy at heart I find it more painful than most to discuss the topic of Vista upgrades (or maybe we all share the same pain regardless huh?) – so I’ve been doing a little reading on application DNA to see if getting a hold on the “development double-helix” (hey – I should market that) might hold the answer, or least part of it.

Certain breeds of Vista upgrade or migration testing solutions (and in particular those that can accommodate testing of non-MSI applications) appear to favour the option to build new virtualisation modules that will fingerprint application DNA and highlight those applications that are suitable for virtualisation under Microsoft’s Softgrid. This seems like a logical move – as many will know, MSI is the standard file format for distribution of apps in a Windows environment (kind of like the same thing as RPM for Linux), so a stripped back to the core approach makes sense.

Vaguely sceptical as I am as to whether these “Vista migration for enterprise” companies are secretly funded by dark forces emanating from the northwest corner of Washington state, the case for assessing application compatibility before migration is a strong one which ever way you cut it.

One player in this space is AppDNA with its AppTitude 2.0 product which claims to be the first automated application compatibility testing solution to provide support for applications that aren’t in the Windows Installer format (non-MSI).

I’ll spare you the details on speed, cost and customer, customer, customer etc… and make mention of the fact that I found interesting. This product analyses an entire software application portfolio and highlights those applications which are poor candidates for virtualisation and so produces a report on the issues arising. In addition, it can identify the interdependencies between applications to give the CIO grouping control.

So, with this kind of solution in mind I’m starting to hear more and more about what you might even call “application forsensics” (damn, I should market that too!) as start to look at fingerprinting capabilities. Migration solutions need to be able to examine details of the file and registry components across all applications, including non-MSI executables, meaning that companies planning Vista OS migration can assess the extent of any incompatibility issues and plan remedial action accordingly.

AppDNA stood out to me when I started looking into this subject, but if you know of others (or think that what I’ve detailed here is weak) then do let me know. The leaders in this segment will (I think) be able to boast the ability to analyse both install and runtime issues, work at a layer of granularity below that of any human testing and (as mentioned several times) work at a non-MSI level. Will those factors allow us to develop the perfect Vista application migration panacea? Don’t count on it.

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