Microsoft Promises Compatibility In Windows 7

Vista, of course, was plagued by application and hardware compatibility issues that led to the unfortunate formation of a "cartoon rain cloud" that seems to have followed Vista since its release. At Microsoft's TechEd conference this week, Bill Veghte, senior vice president for the Windows Business, insisted that Windows 7 won't suffer from these issues.

Microsoft made vast architectural changes between Windows XP and Vista, including an overhauled security model, and it's well aware that these caused problems for many customers. But with Windows 7 sharing much of the same code as Vista, Microsoft has had a much easier time ensuring that applications that work with Vista will work with Windows 7, Veghte said.

More than 10,000 commercial hardware and software companies are currently testing out the Windows 7 Release Candidate and helping to shape its development, and that's testimony to the progressive approach Microsoft has taken in developing the OS, Veghte said.

"That's a number that you generally would see at general availability of the OS or on a really good cycle at Released to Manufacturing. We have 10,000 at the release candidate," Veghte said.

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Device compatibility issues haunted many Vista users, but the fact that Microsoft logged more than 10 million device installations between the Windows 7 Beta and RC suggests that these issues won't affect Windows 7 users, Veghte said.

Marc Harrison, president of Silicon East, a Microsoft solution provider in Manalapan, N.J., says all of Vista's compatibility issues have been hammered out by this point, so it's a virtual slam dunk for Microsoft to make the same claim for Windows 7 due to the shared code base. "All of our internal testing has shown that Microsoft isn't going to have these types of issues with Windows 7," he said.

Microsoft has learned much from the Vista experience and has been laser focused on avoiding a repeat with Windows 7, says Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-Tech, a Burnsville, Minn.-based system builder.

"I think they heard the resounding feedback from customers who decided to stay with XP, and I don't think we'll see compatibility problems in Windows 7 environments," Swank said.

Acknowledging that graphics drivers have been a challenge for Microsoft in past Windows releases, Veghte said Microsoft already has certified two graphics drivers in its Windows Logo Program, which signifies the compatibility and reliability of systems and devices with Windows. Overall, Microsoft has had six successful submissions for the logo since releasing the Windows 7 RC earlier this month, he added.

Microsoft in April released version 5.5 of its Application Compatibility Toolkit, which helps users detect and fix application glitches before migrating to Windows 7, and more than 33,000 users have downloaded it so far, according to Veghte.