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Updated MS toolkit allows full Vista compatibility check

With Windows Vista finally released to manufacturing, administrators are bracing for the inevitability of supporting the new operating system. The big unknown isn't whether a given machine can support Vista, but whether a given application will run properly in Vista. And since Vista features some of the most radical changes to Windows since Windows went 32-bit, this is no small issue.

Version 5.0 of Microsoft's

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Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) was created specifically to allow admins to audit their entire environment—applications, computers, peripherals and even Web sites—for compatibility issues with Windows Vista.

Because Vista breaks from Windows tradition in so many ways—e.g., applications no longer run as Administrator by default, even when you're logged in as admin—Microsoft has added an entire set of data collectors and compatibility evaluators to ACT 5.0 to gauge Vista compatibility. These include:

  • The Internet Explorer Compatibility Evaluator, which checks for components that might be incompatible with IE7, especially as it's set up in Vista.
  • The User Account Control Compatibility Evaluator, which checks for any potential issues due to User Account Controls being enforced.
  • The Update Compatibility Evaluator, which looks for potential application compatibility issues due to Windows security updates. >li>The Vista Compatibility Evaluator, which determines if there are problems with GINA (graphical identification and authentication) DLLs (i.e., login components), device drivers or other Ring 0 services, and any need for components no longer supported in Vista.

Note: In Vista, GINA has been entirely replaced by Credential Providers, which allows for more flexibility in supporting multiple credential collection methods. GINA libraries will not work with Vista.

Microsoft has also rewritten Version 5.0 to make it all the easier to perform the collection and evaluation of compatibility data across an organization. To this one, one new component, the Application Compatibility Toolkit Data Collector, lets admins control when systems are to be evaluated, and aggregates the collected data for sending to an ACT database.

ACT 5.0 requires Windows 2000 SP4 or better, SQL Server 2005 Express Edition or better and the .NET Framework (1.1 or higher). The system you're using to aggregate and process ACT data should have at least 512MB of RAM and a 2.8 GHz processor.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter, which is devoted to hints, tips, tricks, news and goodies for Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP users and administrators. He has more than 10 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.

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This was first published in December 2006

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