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Windows 7 Update Addresses App Compatibility

Microsoft released a minor update this week for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 that addresses compatibility issues for some applications.

It's the first update for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 since the availability of the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) versions of the operating systems. The update will either improve the functioning of a particular application or block it from running.

The update implements a "hard block" to prevent an application from running or a "soft block" to just warn the user that the application running is incompatible with the OS.

Microsoft's Knowledge Base article explains that the update is designed to address problems typically encountered when running legacy games or other applications on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. However, the article lists a fair amount of security software, including Trend Micro Internet Security, PGP Desktop and Trend Micro VirusBuster 2008. Even Window Live Photo Gallery made the list.

The update package can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center in x86 and x64 versions for Windows 7. It's available in x64 and Itanium versions for Windows Server 2008 R2. The update requires a restart to take effect.

Users not helped by Microsoft's update can try to run incompatible applications by using Windows 7's desktop virtualization features. Microsoft recommends Windows 7's XP Mode desktop virtualization feature for small-to-medium organizations. For larger organizations requiring centralized management control over multiple PCs, Microsoft instead recommends using Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V). MED-V is a component in the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, available via Software Assurance licensing.

MED-V allows users to run XP or Windows 2000 virtual desktops in Vista. However, Microsoft plans to add support for Windows 7 hosts when MED-V 1.0 Service Pack 1 is released in the first quarter of next year, according to a Microsoft blog. Oddly, the blog explains that "as it stands today, there is no support for Windows 7 or Windows Vista guests expected any time soon" in MED-V.

MED-V doesn't require special hardware virtualization capabilities to run, the blog noted. In contrast, users of XP Mode have to first check that the PC uses processors with built-in virtualization capabilities, such as Intel VT and AMD-V technologies.

For those facing daunting application compatibility issues and willing to pay for support, Microsoft recently rolled out a new support line for the purpose. The company also provides a free downloadable Application Compatibility Toolkit to help diagnose such problems. Microsoft partner-based support is available through the Windows 7 Application Compatibility Factory Program, described here.

Another more general resource is Microsoft's Springboard video panel discussions on application compatibility issues in Windows 7. Microsoft Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich hosted a two-part series on the topic. Part 1 discusses mitigation techniques, while Part 2 looks at virtualization solutions when those initial techniques can't be used.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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Reader Comments

Sun, Oct 18, 2009 Floyd St. Louis

Everything I have read indicates it is a b*tch to upgrade from XP to Win 7. Expect it to take several hours of frustration and even then some of your XP programs will not work. Good luck if you upgrade.

Sun, Oct 18, 2009 Floyd St. Louis

Everything I have read indicates it is a b*tch to upgrade from XP to Win 7. Expect it to take several hours of frustration and even then some of your XP programs will not work. Good luck if you upgrade.

Wed, Sep 30, 2009 r4 software

http://w DOT ww.r4-ds-carta.it MS is fabulous. It has not been too long for launch of W7 and noe they are having its update.

Tue, Sep 29, 2009 Wisesooth Minneapolis

An old IBM saying goes something like this: "He who tries to swallow an elephant will choke on its tail."Microsoft will have another "leakout" unless it provides native (not virtual) compatibility for XP. Microsoft must also provide a remedy for equipment no longer in production that has no driver support for Version 7.

Sat, Sep 26, 2009

I think this whole challenge with respect to migrating to Windows 7 opens the door to alternative ways of managing the end user applications. The real challenge being identified here is how to maintain the end user experience with minimal to no disruption in productivity. One of the reason MS is allowing XP to run in Win7 is to ensure that all applications are able to be used with no disruption.

An alternative would be to use application virtualization to separate the application from the underlying OS and allow it to run independently with no conflicts. Companies like InstallFree allow organizations to easily create virtual apps that can run on XP, Vista and Windows 7 simultaneously without conflict. Users can upgrade from XP to Win 7 and the same virtual application will run with full functionality.

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