Migrating to Windows 7: Overcoming Application Compatibility Issues

It has been on the cards for some time, but this week (22nd October) sees the launch of Windows 7. In the months leading up to the launch, Microsoft has made substantial efforts to ensure that existing applications work with Windows 7. However in the corporate space the company recognises that the biggest barrier to Windows 7 adoption is still application compatibility.


So how ready are applications for Windows 7? The Win 7 operating system is built on the same kernel as Vista. As a result, issues that apps have with VISTA will also be issues with Windows 7. ISV’s have worked hard to get their software running on VISTA so there are fewer problems than when it was first launched. However, in-house developed applications may well have issues on Win 7 unless they have been upgraded over the last two years or so to address these problems. And of course the extra features of Windows 7 do add some extra compatibility issues


So let’s look at some hard numbers. ChangeBASE and our partners have conducted over 20 Windows 7 compatibility assessments for organisations, each with thousands of applications.


Our findings show that around 20%-40% are ready for Windows 7 and that 60-80% of a typical application portfolio will need some remediation to meet the requirements for being deployable to Windows 7. Around 5% of applications have an issue that needs to be addressed by the software vendor or programmer


There is of course a scale of problems with application compatibility – from the extreme of a product just not installing, to the other end of the spectrum where a particular printer driver may not work when the particular printer is not used in the organisation. So the 5% of apps that have an issue could in some cases still be deployed.


So there is some good news to take out of this. Technologies from companies like ChangeBASE can automatically fix most of the compatibility issues an application has in minutes. As a result it is now possible to get 95% or more applications running on Windows 7 with very little effort.


Comprehensive compatibility assessment reports will enable organisations to ensure that their application portfolios and packages are fully ready for the transition to Windows 7, as well as being compliant with Microsoft and industry standards. This is important given the addition of security features. Automated fixing technologies solve most of these issues.


In summary, organisations shouldn’t fear the migration process. Whilst migrating to Windows 7 could present a number of application compatibility problems, these issues can be quickly addressed, and problems automatically resolved if the right steps are taken. If organisations prepare correctly, they can start to quickly reap the benefits of Windows 7, without suffering the pain that many previous migrations have caused.


Greg Lambert, Technology Director, ChangeBASE AOK