Microsoft would like IT pros to believe all their applications will be compatible with Windows 7, but that isn't the case -- especially for companies that skipped Vista. Fortunately, there are ways around incompatibility issues.
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Most vendors that sell a client/server business apps have or will update their current software for Windows 7. At the same time, IT pros shouldn't expect vendors to make older products compatible, said Michael Cherry, an operating systems analyst at Kirkland, Wash.-based Directions on Microsoft.
"IT cannot assume that all applications are compatible, in particular, any in-house applications that were not made compatible with Vista, and therefore may have problems with User Account Control [UAC] and other changes," Cherry said. Given the number of applications running in organizations, "it would be understandable that some might not be compatible."
Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Ecosystem team released hardware and software vendor compatibility information last week and introduced a new Windows Compatibility Center Website for Windows 7. Microsoft's Windows Ecosystem Readiness Program has participation from over 50,000 developers from 17,000 companies preparing their products for Windows 7.
And for those applications that are not compatible, Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC for Windows 7 will help IT administrators circumvent application compatibility issues, said David O'Berry, a consultant and CIO for the South Carolina Department of Probation.
O'Berry's end users are on Windows XP -64 bit and he plans to roll out Windows 7 after the first service pack launches early 2010.
"Microsoft has made XP Mode and Virtual PC available to everyone, which takes care of the [compatibility] problem," he said.
Technologies such as desktop virtualization or terminal services also offer ways around compatibility issues, Cherry said.
One Director of IT for a large health services provider in New Brunswick, Canada will use virtualization to get around compatibility issues when he upgrades from Windows XP to Windows 7 next year. He plans to move hundreds of applications to Windows 7, and about 80% of them will convert without issue.
"The remainder will involve one of two approaches; certification on the new platform through configuration and testing, or leveraging virtual hosted desktops," he said. "We are just starting to experiment with the latter, but are optimistic it will help resolve issues with "stubborn" applications."
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