There are a number of efforts going on to help organize application compatibility for Windows 7, in or ongoing effort to improve in this space. Now, the technical information remains fairly stable, but there are a number of different ways to organize that information based on the perspective with which you are approaching that problem.

In fact, that’s probably the hardest part of talking about application compatibility – it crosses pretty much every discipline in IT, from management down the individual contributor. Even within individual contributors, it’s divided between the IT Professional and the Developer audiences.

(As a side note, in nearly every audience I speak to where there are representatives of both disciplines, they tend to completely sort based on discipline. All of the IT Pros will sit on one side of the room, all of the developers sit on the other. You almost never find a situation where people are naturally distributed. And we wonder why communication between these teams, while critical, doesn’t happen as often as we would like – I know I am guilt of that myself!)

So, we’re trying to organize and sort the information and knowledge for you as best we can. Here are just a few ways we have organized things to help out:

Windows XP to Windows 7 Migration Guidance

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/ee150430.aspx – this is one way to map out information by the process itself. It’s fairly high level (no kernel debugging tips here) and more geared towards the IT Professional (hence the Technet home). Instead of a big list, there is a flowchart navigation system. Click on the stage in the flowchart you are sitting at, and it lists out resources, with pros and cons, of the tools which are there to help you through that state! Quite a clever navigation scheme.

Application Compatibility Factory

OK, this is one that’s confusing. I know I pick on folks in the marketing discipline from time to time, but that’s only because I think they can act in ways that are as unengineer-like as possible. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s … confusing. This is one of those confusing times.

We took an existing program and brand – Application Compatibility Factory. The name made sense – it used a (predominantly offshore) factory model, optimized for churning through bulk. The program for Windows Vista consisted of around 6 global system integrators.

We then re-used the power of that brand on a whole new model. No, really! It doesn’t look anything like the old model – heck, it isn’t even a factory model, despite having the word Factory occupy 1/3 of the words in the name. No longer is ACF the “stroke a 7 figure check and make a big chunk of work disappear” – it’s now a program that delivers 1-week Proof of Concept engagements.

Here’s basically what happens: a partner (or even Microsoft Consulting Services) comes in to your organization and begins the process of taking a software inventory. (Depending on how many desktops you have, they may not be able to finish, but they’ll be sure to let you know how you can finish up.) Next, they get you started on the process of rationalizing that inventory, so you can focus only on those applications that you specifically want to support on your shiny new operating system, and not everything someone managed to successfully install at some point in time after you handed them a computer. Finally, they do a bit of proof of concept work around remediating applications – likely not making much of a dent in that work, but at least showing you the general approach to that problem and giving you both knowledge and hope.

In the end, the same partner will also be very likely to slide a proposal across the table to help you finish that work, and it’s here that they’re likely to include the factory model. But factories have almost nothing to do with the actual free engagement.

Oh yeah, did I mention the free part? So, if you’re still getting started, this is a great way to leverage the investments we’re making in application compatibility and minimize your risk.

To get started, in the USA you can send email to usappcom@microsoft.com. You can also find information here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/bb510132.aspx. This has a list of the ACF partners in many different countries. Yes, even you, Belgium.

This is all great, but I write code

We’ve got you covered. We recently added an FAQ section to our forums at http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/windowscompatibility/threads – you can find it at http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/windowscompatibility/thread/7d585c05-0b61-45e7-b554-740382ffb7cc. This forum is a great place to get your specific questions answered.

This is just a taste of some of the organizational work we’re investing in. Keep on letting us know how we can do better! Because it’s bad enough that this stuff is hard technically, it shouldn’t be hard to find what you need!