Application Compatibility - The 30 minute checklist

Application Compatibility - The 30 minute checklist

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Although Windows Vista is generally compatible with applications written for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and their associated service packs, some compatibility issues are inevitable due to new innovations, security tightening, and increased reliability.  Getting some older applications running on a new OS can be challenging at the best of times and completely frustrating at other times.  And of course, life becomes a lot worse for the administrator when the problem occurs in production.  We always recommend thoroughly testing for application compatibility when considering the deployment of a new OS, but it's surprising how often something gets missed!  So we thought we'd provide a quick overview of some basic application compatibility testing - our 30 minute checklist for testing individual applications when you're planning your Windows Vista deployment ...

Basic Application Compatibility Scenarios
There are two primary scenarios for basic application compatibility checking – a clean installation of Windows Vista and an upgrade from Windows XP SP2.  Below is an overview of the compatibility checking methodology for each of these scenarios.

Clean Installation of Windows Vista

  1. Install Windows Vista on a test machine.
  2. Install the application on Windows Vista.  If a prompt is displayed requesting permission to installation the application, click Permit and continue.  If installation succeeds, go to step 6.
  3. If the application installation failed and no installation permission prompt was displayed, then right-click the installer EXE and choose Run this program as administrator and re-install the application. If the install succeeds, go to step 6. Note: This step is not necessary if an MSI package is used to install the Application
  4. If you receive any errors, such as OS version, CLSID registration, or file copy, then right-click the installer EXE file, choose the Compatibility tab, and choose the Windows XP SP2 compatibility mode.
  5. Go back to step 2.  If you cannot install the application, go to step 9.
  6. The application should now be installed.
  7. Launch the application.  If the application did not launch properly or if errors are displayed, apply the Windows XP SP2 compatibility mode to the application EXE and try again.
  8. If the application launches successfully, run through the full suite of tests that would typically be used to test the application on Windows XP.  Verify your application functionality and confirm that the application performs properly.  If all major functionality tests pass, go to step 10.
  9. If the application does not install, launch successfully, crashes, encounters an error, or fails major functionality tests, then the application may be impacted by the changes made in Windows Vista.
  10. Scenario completed

Upgrade from XP SP2 to Windows Vista

  1. Install Windows XP SP2 on a test machine and then install the application. Verify all the functionality of the application before proceeding. 
  2. Upgrade the test machine to Windows Vista.  Follow the Windows Vista setup and upgrade instructions.  Once the upgrade is complete, log on as you would on Windows XP.
  3. Launch the application.  If the application did not launch properly or if errors are displayed, apply the Windows XP SP2 compatibility mode to the application EXE and try again.
  4. If the application launches successfully, run through the full suite of tests that would typically be used to test the application on Windows XP.  Verify your application functionality and confirm that the application performs properly. If all major functionality tests pass, go to step 6.
  5. If the application does not launch successfully, crashes, encounters an error, or fails major functionality tests, then the application may be impacted by the changes made in Windows Vista.
  6. Scenario completed

Obviously some applications will require far more testing and troubleshooting than others, but this should help you get started.  In future posts, we'll be touching on some specific areas of Application Compatibility such as IE7 Protected Mode and Session 0 Isolation ...

 - CC Hameed

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