Preventing hardware/software compatibility issues on Windows Server 2003

It is a good idea to check compatibility issues thoroughly for each server running the Windows operating system that you plan to upgrade. Running the provided system compatibility check and doing some research before installing Windows Server 2003 can save you many headaches later on.

Windows Server 2003 Setup can perform a hardware and software compatibility analysis on a server and provide a report with detected issues and suggested resolutions. The report includes information about hardware and software compatibility, services that will be disabled during the upgrading process, and whether the forest and domain have been prepared for upgrading Active Directory.

The analysis can be started in two ways:


  2. Select the Check System Compatibility option on the Setup menu that loads when the product CD is inserted.


  3. Run WINNT32 /checkupgradeonly from the command line. (Winnt32 is in the I386 folder on your product CD.)

In addition to the compatibility testing, you might want to do some additional research on compatibility. Some places you might check include the following:

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  • The Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) provides a list of systems and components that have been tested with Windows Server 2003.


  • The Windows Server Catalog provides software compatibility information.


  • Software and hardware vendors generally have information about how their products operate with the various Windows operating systems -- and, if they don't, you might reconsider purchasing their products. A bit of research on critical applications and common hardware can pay off if you can avoid a serious problem or even a flurry of small ones.


  • Online discussion groups often yield valuable information about real-life experiences with Windows Server 2003 and various types of hardware and software. One good source for Usenet groups is Google Groups. Check vendor sites for private newsgroups, which are often frequented by system administrators and, if you're lucky, tech support staff from the vendor.

About the author: Rahul Shah currently works at a software firm in India, where he is a systems administrator maintaining Windows servers. He has also worked for various software firms in testing and analytics, and also has experiences deploying client/server applications in different Windows configurations.

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This was first published in August 2006

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