Tips and Tools for Deploying Windows 7 Part 2–Application Compatibility

Like everyone else, you love Windows 7 and can’t wait to get it deployed throughout your organization. Let’s take a look at the many tips and tools available today to ease your burden of deployment. I have broken it down into several steps (or categories of steps). While writing all of this, it became obvious really fast that there is way too much stuff for a single post so I have broken it down into 5 parts. They are:

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Part 2: Application Compatibility

For the smallest of businesses there is a downloadable tool called the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor which will scan an individual computer and give information on the applications and the hardware that are running on that computer as well as some remediation steps that may be needed on that machine. The tool is for those that want to do individual upgrades instead of doing a mass deployment.

The Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit is the must have tool for application compatibility. It has very detailed documentation including step-by-step for installing and running the tool. Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) 5.6 provides a way for you to create an inventory for your organization, including your installed applications, computers, and devices. It also enables you to collect compatibility data, to determine the impact of that data in your organization, and, finally, to create mitigation packages to fix the compatibility issues, when possible. There are three phases for effectively using ACT in your organization. The three phases are:

Phase 1: Collecting Data. Before you can analyze your potential compatibility issues, you must first collect your organization’s inventory and the associated compatibility issues.

Phase 2: Analyzing Issues. After collecting your inventory and associated compatibility data, you can organize and analyze your issues. This includes categorizing, prioritizing, setting your deployment status, and setting your application assessment to create customized reports.

Phase 3: Mitigating Issues by Using Compatibility Fixes. After analyzing your compatibility issue reports, you can do the following:

· Manually test your applications for functionality-related issues

· Use the Standard User Analyzer (SUA) tool to automatically test for user account control (UAC)-related issues

· Create mitigation packages for valid issues by using the Compatibility Administrator

If you do find application compatibility issues, you should know that in most cases, you can use shims to trick the application into thinking it is running on an older OS. If this does not work, there are many other technologies that can be deployed to help you eliminate application compatibility issues. Some of them include:

· Remote Desktop Services can be used to present certain problematic applications to users via terminal services (Remote Desktop)

· Application Virtualization can be used to package applications and stream them to the desktop. This technology is more used for application to application compatibility issues (not OS to application compatibility) If you have different applications that cannot co-exist together, Application Virtualization may be a good solution

· XP-Mode is a special feature of Windows 7 that allows you to run Windows XP as a virtual computer on the Windows 7 machine. Windows 7 comes with a license for Windows XP running in XP mode. Applications can then actually run on XP which is in turn running on top of Windows 7.

· Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) offers similar features to XP-Mode but is designed with the enterprise in mind. It allows you to run applications (even web applications) in a window that looks like it is running on Windows 7 even though it is running on XP. This is the must have solution for browser applications that require IIS 6 compatibility.

You may also want to visit the Windows Compatibility Center. The Windows Compatibility Center is a unified, online compatibility center that provides both application and device compatibility information. For more information, see Windows 7 Compatibility Center.

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