Windows

The Windows Ecosystem Readiness Program ensures compatibility for Windows 7

Microsoft has put a great deal of effort into making sure that Windows 7 is compatible with new and existing hardware and software.

We all remember what a compatibility nightmare Microsoft Windows Vista was between the time that it launched in January 2007 and the release of SP1 in April 2008. Unfortunately, software and hardware manufacturers and Microsoft were not on the same page when Vista launched, and it took them close to a year to get to that point.

This fact is clearly spelled out in this excerpt from the "Application and Device Compatibility" section of the Overview of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 document, which emphasizes a dramatic increase in the number of compatible products:

In the past year, the ecosystem has made dramatic progress in addressing Windows Vista compatibility issues. More than 2,500 applications and 15,000 components and devices have earned either the "Works with Windows Vista" or "Certified for Windows Vista" logos. As of December 2007, 93% of the 200 top-selling applications and 46 of the top 50 downloaded applications on Download.com are Windows Vista compatible.... A year ago, when Windows Vista launched, there were 13,000 additional components and devices supported by Windows Update; now, there is support for more than 54,000 components and devices.

As you can imagine, the folks at Microsoft are very determined not to repeat that bit of history with Windows 7.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

Compatibility

In addition to improving the overall performance of the new operating system, Microsoft has put a great deal of effort into making sure that Windows 7 is extremely compatible with new and existing hardware and software. To boost this effort, Microsoft has focused a lot of effort into fine-tuning the advances made with Vista such that all the work done by developers on Vista compatibility will transfer directly to Windows 7 and will allow them to build on those efforts as they work toward Windows 7 compatibility.

In fact, in February of this year Microsoft announced the Windows Ecosystem Readiness Program, which is designed to help Independent Hardware Vendors (IHVs), Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), developers, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), and Original Device Manufacturers (ODMs) work toward compatibility with Windows 7 by providing them with access to all kinds of resources and by providing more direct contact with Microsoft, including access to application testing labs through Microsoft Connect.

You can read more about the Windows Ecosystem Readiness Program along with an interview with Mike Nash, who is the Corporate Vice President of Windows Product Management, in an article on the Microsoft PressPass site.

Ecosystem Readiness

Now, it's important to note that even before its official inception, the Windows Ecosystem Readiness Program was already at work and making great strides in preparing the way for Windows 7 to be one of the most compatible-ready operating systems to date. In fact, at the October 2008 Professional Developers Conference, Microsoft partners received an API complete developer build of Windows 7 so that they could begin working directly with the new operating system a full year before the proposed release date.

Three months later, developers got access to one of the most stable Beta releases in recent history and were able to step up their development strategies. Five months after that milestone, developers received the Release Candidate and as such have had a good five and half months to fine-tune their product development while working with a very stable, feature-complete version of the Windows 7 operating system.

More significant is the fact that in a recent Windows 7 Team Blog, Mark Relph, the Senior Director with the Windows Ecosystem Team, reported on the success of the Windows Ecosystem Readiness Program by pointing out that over 50,000 developers from 17,000 companies are taking part in the program. He also highlighted the fact that more than 6,000 hardware and software products have received the Compatible with Windows 7 Logo. As you can see, comparing these numbers to those mentioned in the SP1 document reveals a dramatic increase in developer participation.

In addition, Ralph pointed out that while many other companies are not participating in the Logo program, their products will just work, because of the compatibility efforts built in to the operating system itself.

Mark also talked about Microsoft's Ready. Set. 7. Web site where you can find a list of companies and detailed descriptions of the products that have received the Compatible with Windows 7 Logo. In addition to the Ready. Set. 7. Web site, you will be able to find more detailed information about compatible products on the Windows 7 Compatibility Center Web site, which will be officially open for business when Windows 7 debuts on October 22.

Windows XP Mode RTM

While working to make as many products as possible compatible with Windows 7 is Microsoft's main goal, it is important to point out that in a roundabout way, Windows XP Mode is also very much about compatibility. While I wrote about Windows XP Mode when it was in Beta, development and significant improvements have been underway, and the Windows XP Mode add-on has been released to manufacturing and will be ready for download on October 22. You can learn more about Windows XP Mode improvements in a recent Windows 7 Team Blog by Brandon LeBlanc.

What's your take?

As you can probably tell, I'm very excited about Windows 7 and the compatibility efforts that Microsoft has put into the development of the new operating system. What's your take? Are you ready to give Microsoft a second chance when it comes to compatibility? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

TechRepublic's Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report newsletter, delivered every Friday, offers tips, news, and scuttlebutt on Vista and Windows 7, including a look at new features in the latest version of the Windows OS. Automatically sign up today!

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

21 comments
marcel-fontaine
marcel-fontaine

Some improvement still needed. I try Windows release candidate and experience problem with Nvidia GeForce 9800 GT. The problem was experience with 2 games where 3D doesn't work at all and work fine under Vista.

donm65
donm65

I have been using Windows 7 RC1 since its release in May 2009. Have it installed as primary system and it is amazing. Runs everything I throw at it. Have had minor problems with it. After all "Windows 7 is what Vista should have been". The thing I don't like is being forced to pay for and upgrade that should have been gladly given to all of initial Vista suckers. Have a great day and enjoy life. DMZ

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

I've been using 7 since the RTM showed up on MSDN (Aug 6). I've installed it on 7 PC's at home with no issues. They are a mixture of recent Dell's HP's and an IBM (Lenovo) ThinkPad. One is x64.7 had drivers for all of them "out of the box." I had to use the XP drivers for my older printers, but they work. The scanner does also. Just for grins, I installed it on some older laptops, the oldest being an Omnibook 6000 with 512 MB of RAM and an 850 MHz CPU. It went on with no complaints. It didn't have a driver for the NIC and a couple of other things. I used the XP NIC driver and it worked. Windows Update got the rest. It's slow, but it works. So, yes, they did a better job this time.

bhaven23
bhaven23

I have a wonderful scanner just sitting because of a driver problem. Canon won't update because of the age. Works fine with XP.

reisen55
reisen55

Many technet subscribers have tested it and loved it. I have experimented with Release Candidate 1 and it was fair and proper but also detonated a 500gb partition on a 1TB drive when I returned a ghost image back to Windows XP. Not good. For me, I will experiment with it for my clients. For my clients, I will avoid it like plague for six months at least. Why? I cannot risk THEIR businesses on an unknown product. And Windows XP is performing very well for them right now. It is their APPLICATION SOFTWARE that keeps their businesses going, NOT THE OPERATING SYSTEM. READ THAT AGAIN. IT IS A CLIENT'S SOFTWARE THAT KEEPS THEIR BUSINESS ALIVE, NOT THE OPERATING SYSTEM. So praise Ballmer and send a thousand chants to the Sun God if you want. I will wait for the Chorus to die down a bit. After all, remember that Great God Ballmer said that Vista could be run "right out of the box"......

mypl8s4u2
mypl8s4u2

It's like Charlie Brown trying to kick that stupid football. I don't understand who the hell is voting that MS will improve? We heard all that BS prior to the launch of Vista and here we are. No 'smart' corporation would adopt Vista, it would be financially foolish. And it's reported that what doesn't currently work with Vista won't work with Windows 7. Matter of fact, that's a fact in it self. If you go to the windows site and post that question about compatibility between Vista and Windows 7, they will tell you, if it currently doesn't run in Vista, it won't run in Windows 7. And to make matters worst, if you have the 64bit version of Vista whatever, you are more at a disadvantage. Right now I've got my clients using Virtual to run their older programs. Sort of defeats the purpose of purchasing a system that's faster than fast and have to revert to Virtual situations to run their aging software because some of the companies out there, can't be compatible with Vista or they just don't want to shoulder the expense. My client has many accounting programs, some still DOS based. And getting around the printing via the NET USE command as most have noted, doesn't work with Vista. So compatibility will be a problem for my client. The sad part is even though my client's software (80%) is not compatible, neither are printers which need a physical LPT1 port which is no longer offered on the newer systems and using USB and Parallel print servers don't always work. For example, The Xerox Work centre C250 now has a vista driver but it's generic in nature and only allows printing, no other features. And HP also came out with a universal driver for their AIO 3055 system which allows it to work with Vista but you won't have any other feature available to you. You can not scan to PC, you can't send email from the machine, just print. Another printer is the Konica/Minolta corporate edition machine which utilizes accounts for tracking purposes. The Vista driver only allows printing and no account control so anyone with Vista, wanting to print to the Minolta can't as you can't enter a user name or account password so again, useless. I don't understand what all the hoop la is about. MS is MS. They don't care, as long as they have a product to push. I used to be a fan, but after Vista, I went another way. I found other OS's easier to configure, easier to connect to networks and so forth. Vista was/is a nightmare even now to find our domain controller. It finds all the client machines, I can map to the server but when browsing the network, the server sometimes shows and sometimes not. As an IT professional, I quit and retired because I refuse to support Vista. Good luck to anyone out there with the balls to go forward and keep getting jerked by MS. Like I said at the beginning of this response, the ball will be taken away. You'd think people would learn after a while, but I guess we're all like that, we have hope. Too bad you'll be disappointed, yet again. How sad.

Ocie3
Ocie3

says that my computer (age 7) has more than enough RAM (1GB min.) and CPU speed (1GHz min.) to run Windows 7, but the "graphics card" must be upgraded to use the "Aero Gel" (?) window dressing. It isn't clear whether using "Aero Gel" is required. I've never found a Windows UI that I would prefer to running Windows Explorer instead. But the Advisor's report is also not the whole truth. The CPU is an AMD XP2400+ and, from what I've read previously, it does not have some Vista and Win7 security features that should be implemented in the CPU itself (and have been implemented in Intel CPUs since about 2004 -?-). One or two of the measures can be implemented in software with some assurance, and have been implemented in Windows XP, which the computer is currently running. I know, because from time-to-time the nVidia nForce 2 chipset on the mainboard does something that the "code injection protection" feature doesn't like and WinXP displays an error message. After I acknowledge the message, the system continues to run without any apparent harm.

jwlindsey
jwlindsey

... the Windows 7 Compatibility Center web page. After downloading the beta version of the advisor and attempting to run it (twice), I found that after several minutes of running, it uncermonioulsy rebooted my Dell Inspiron 8600 laptop (with XP-Pro). No explanations, no results for the compatibility test; just a reboot. Well... this IS the beta version of the program. I hope Windows 7 works better than that.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Microsoft is trying hard to make Windows 7 as compatible as possible from the word go. Do you think they will achieve that goal? Please explain why or why not.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I did an upgrade over the weekend and the video drivers were not up to date and missing a few configuration parts. Get the latest nVidia drivers directly from the nVidia Web site. That should fix the problem.

gishmonster49
gishmonster49

I agree that all the buyers of Vista were testers for MS. MS would gain a lot of needed positive PR if it would give W7 to all of us testers. They could drop the support for Vista and save themselves money and headaches. gishmonster

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

That's the most bellicose barrel of b.s. I have seen in a long time. You are condemning W7 before it even hits the showroom floor, maybe without even test-driving it yourself, yet MS has been working very hard to ensure it will be the best it can be. Having over 50,000 developers in over 17,000 companies involved in getting W7 ready is a pretty huge stride toward having it as compatible as possible for as many consumers as possible. There will alwaya be exceptions, simply because computer systems are like snowflakes - no two are alike. Whether in a home or office, every single system is unique. It has historically been the hardware manufacturers' and software companies' unwillingness or inability to keep up with the advances made by Microsoft that have hindered the success of every new version of Windows at the time of its release. Yet is those same manufacturers who pre-install Windows on their machines, and who provide you with system restore disks that will only work on one specific machine. I have a Compaq tower running XP SP3 and this Compaq laptop running Vista, both have a 2 gig cpu and 2 gigs of ram, and even though I have three times the number of TSR's running on my laptop, it still runs circles around my XP machine. That is because I have made the effort to be sure I keep up with updating drivers and software. If your clients were still using DOS and LPT1 printers, maybe it was time they upgraded their IT Manager anyway, as well as their computer systems. Since you're so obviously opposed to Microsoft, why do you even bother reading and commenting on Windows posts? If you really want to promote Mac, try writing a productive article regaling us with the positive aspects of it, rather than sporadic outburts bashing Windows.

joseph_mcmanus
joseph_mcmanus

It seems to me that, as someone else said, you?re a very angry person. Well since I've been out of a job now for almost a year (it'll be so on the 17th) AND since you "quit and retired because I {you} refuse to support Vista" let me know where you worked and I'll be happy to take your "OLD" job!!! You need a reality check, It's hell out here trying to find a job, and you give up your job just because "I {you} refuse to support Vista," I don't think so, from your statements it sounds like you have some attitude issues and were asked to "quit and retire." Hey have a nice life, oh, and thanks for the opportunity to feed my family!!! Take Care

Josh B
Josh B

mypl8s4u2 - have you tried Windows 7? Or even Vista for that matter? You sure have a lot of complaining to do, but it doesn't sound like you have much experience yourself. Your statement "I refuse to support Vista" pretty much speaks for itself. And for the record, there are apps that don't work in Vista that do work in Windows 7. They had a blog about this not to long ago; you can find it here - http://blogs.msdn.com/e7/archive/2009/03/09/application-compatibility-testing-international.aspx Granted, these are international programs and you may have not heard of them all, but you can't say it's fact that it won't work in 7. ;) I for one am looking forward to 7 and am confident they do have even better compatibility.

Lamini
Lamini

aero gel is not required. there is a windows classic theme (not default). even my machines that are overpowered for vista even run on windows xp classic as I do work on my machines and need all the juice i can get.

joseph_mcmanus
joseph_mcmanus

I do believe, a buddy of mine and I helped to beta test both Vista & 7, and we both agreed (on these points at least, he was a MS basher of many years standing) that; #1- Vista not only did NOT work with most of our equipment (some of the equipment didn't have a driver for it until almost a year & a half later, and these being MS drivers and NOT Mfg. drivers due to the Mfg?s giving up on equipment that was not their newest releases & therefore if not FULLY compatible at least close enough that they could fudge it)out of the box and Win7 did, both x86 & x64, and, #2- Windows 7 just works, period! IF you need to know the reason WHY I said that last statement, well let?s see; 1-It is much faster and smoother in the load-up and all other departments that matter to me, 2- it?s GUI is so much more polished and responsive, and 3 - let?s not get into how much better Win 7 is in the resource management department than Vista. Overall I have to say that both the x86 & x64 versions of Win7 just F?ing work better than ANY Windows release since 98 SE. The problems with Vista, I think, stem from the fact that Microsoft DID NOT do enough to get ANYONE ready for Vista, not the ODM's, OEM's, the enterprise community, the public, not anyone, and I am glad to see that they seem to have addressed that with this release. I think that all MS?s woes with Vista started when they changed the way the hardware works with the OS, they should have known with that kind of major change that they needed to get all the ODM?s on the same page a year and a half BEFORE they even thought of releasing the beta so that the ODM?s could have tailored their equipment development and releases during the intervening period so that people and business would NOT spent a whole lot of money on new hardware only to find that a good piece of it (especially the Video & Sound cards) wouldn?t work with Vista. This was, in my opinion, one of, if not THE major reason that Vista did not catch on with as many people as it should have. Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE I knew felt at the time that not only did MS left them high and dry on the rocks but that the ODM?s had a hand in it too, I heard so much talk going around the scuttlebutt and chats about collusion between MS and the ODM?s to get people to waste their money on equipment they could not use on Vista and would have to replace to stay on the bleeding edge that I was truly surprised that congress didn?t initiate an investigation into it (oh yeah, sorry, I for they were Republicans back then & not the crew we have in there now). At least Win 7 uses most, if not ALL the Vista drivers and apps so that if you really think about it, Win7 is like 98SE, a beast of evolution NOT revolution; Vista in my humble opinion was, AND IS more like Win 95's original upgrade release (some people I know would say that it was more like ME than 95 but I don?t for a number of reasons) than MS would like to admit.

rlyons
rlyons

I believe that Windows 7 will be very close to being compatible to almost everything. Vista was a complete disaster and a lot of people complained and gave it a bad name from the start. Whilst Vista did improve, eventually, it kept it's name and is still avoided by people I know. Microsoft will not want this to happen again, and with the FREE open Beta stages and through various things that I have read, it looks to me like they are working hard for their goal; for Windows 7 not to be as Vista was.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

If MS is indeed trying to ensure compatibility, THEY need to get the drivers and include them in the package. The only reason a user should have to hunt down drivers is if they are using some archaic or obscure piece of hardware. If MS wants to redeem themselves after their Vista disaster, they need to work smarter and harder. Keeping current users is hard enough. Getting back users who have switched is much more so. They have got to give users a good reason to switch back, and making users find their own drivers ain't it.

GeoffMichael
GeoffMichael

I agree!!! I never switched to Vista. I kept 2, XP Pro. systems and added a 24" iMac and a 13.3" Unibody Mac notebook (on which I'm typing this reply). The Macintosh units run fine but so do my XP systems. I do like the Macintosh hardware a lot. Based on my experience with the Beta and RC versions of Windows 7, I purchased, in advance, a copy of the Business version of Windows 7. Both the early versions found and accepted my older hardware just fine and even accepted some ancient software programs (2005 version of PaperPort). I'm neither an Apple fanboy nor a Windows fanboy but I do think Microsoft has done a great job this time and deserves some credit for what's been achieved with Windows 7.

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