Blogging is funny. Like all writers you go through dry spells on things to write about. I never really worry about it because like you, I actually have a day job and it keeps me plenty busy. Another reason is because good topics tend to bubble up naturally. Application compatibility is one of those topics.
As we all know, application compatibility can make or break an operating system. This is especially true on the desktop. I was reading an internal thread and someone was complaining about not being able to install some printer software for their home office printer. Deja vu.
This reminded me to go take a hard look at the current application compatibility picture for Windows 7 and write about some of the information that is at your fingertips. I was really pleased to find a couple of resources you should look closely at for the hardware and applications you are using, or plan to use with Windows 7.
The Windows 7 Focus
As always, you should really take a close look at the development team goals for this release of the operating system. The Windows 7 Engineering blog offers great insight into those goals. See their general post on the subject at http://blogs.msdn.com/e7/archive/2009/03/03/application-compatibility-testing-for-windows-7.aspx. That was published in March and they published an International follow-up a few days later at http://blogs.msdn.com/e7/archive/2009/03/09/application-compatibility-testing-international.aspx. This should give you a good idea of how serious this is treated.
The Mother Load
It’s always fun to find the gold nugget. I was digging around in the application compat areas and ran across something I think all of you have asked for at one time or another. Sure enough, we now have a downloadable spreadsheet called of all things the “Application Compatibility List”. I know, pick your jaw off the floor. Maybe it’s been around for a long time and I just forgot about it, but it’s a start. A pretty nice one, too. Now granted it’s currently geared towards Windows Vista, but if your app runs on Vista, you have a good shot at it running on Windows 7, too. Read the disclaimers in the spreadsheet carefully. As I understand it, some of the information isn’t from Microsoft so I assume it’s coming from the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT).
My personal preference would be to have an online searchable database for hardware and software compatibility. Ask and yee shall receive.
See the compatibility search area at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/compatibility/. As you can see here, there is a rich amount of information on software and hardware.
There are a number of other resources that are always at your disposal. We do of course to webcasts on this subject and will have more on this particular subject over the next few months. In the meantime, make sure to familiarize yourself with the Application Compatibility Tech Center. The Deployment Tech Center is right next to it and goes hand in hand with application testing.