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Application Compatibility Testing -- International

Application Compatibility Testing -- International

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This post continues the discussion of Compatibility testing from our test team.  --Steven

In the previous blog post "Application Compatibility Testing for Windows 7" we talked about the importance of Application Compatibility and work we are doing to engineer this in Windows 7. In this post we will examine the challenge that emerges as we consider the world wide audience that Windows serves.

This blog post will cover the following areas:

  • Overall International App Compatibility Strategy
  • Approach to International App Compatibility
  • Application Acquisition
  • Testing Applications
  • Measuring our Success
  • What it means to “Rescue An Application”

For Windows 7 we have made significant investment in application compatibility, ensuring applications that worked on Vista, continue to work on Windows 7 and we’ve also rescued some applications that were broken in Vista to work on Windows 7 (more on that later).  As we’ve talked about, there are some applications that are OS version specific by design (utilities, firewalls, security, etc.) and those are not included in this discussion.


One of the biggest challenges in International Application Compatibility is what applications we test, the scale of testing, and what it means for us to say that an application “works”.  For Windows 7 we are testing over 1200 applications across 25 specific markets.   We have improved our coverage over Vista by adding over 300 more international applications.

We look at applications in 3 buckets.

  1. Global ISV (GISV) Applications – Localized software sold by major ISVs in several international markets as well as the United States.
  2. Microsoft (MS) Localized Applications – Microsoft software that has been localized for use in other markets other than the United States.
  3. 3rd Party Local Applications – Software where the user interface language is not-English and the application is sold in non-English speaking markets (for example, IchiTaro – Japanese Word Processor, Парус 8 – Russian ERP system,)

Categories 1 & 2 are pretty straightforward.  There are a known set of key applications and scenarios used around the world and we must ensure these applications function in Windows 7.  Category #3 is where there is some complexity.

The applications list we build for 3rd Party Local Applications is built using a number of methods. First, we build on the list of applications we have used in previous versions Windows (XP/Vista, etc). If it worked on Vista, it must work on Windows 7. 

Next we work with our teams in markets around the world to rank top applications in particular markets.  It is amazing to see the diversity in application use around the world.   The application testing list is based on a combination of market data where it is available, individual knowledge of markets, culture, revenue, usage and even sometimes just “word on the street”.  The cultural knowledge in these markets is probably most critical to our success. For example, casual gaming in Korea is hugely popular and we need to ensure our Windows 7 testing accounts for this. 

Our goal in selecting applications is to test as many applications as we can that will expose the most issues across different scenarios and markets. 

These scenarios include:

  • Productivity
  • Memories (photo editing and sharing apps, etc.)
  • Graphics
  • Productivity
  • Music
  • Fundamentals (security, data backup, etc.)
  • TV/Movies

Application Acquisition

Once we build the list of applications we need to test the next process is acquiring them.  We acquire applications in a variety of ways but many times we have to buy an application from a retail store just as any end user would.  Other methods we use to acquire applications include downloading full featured trial versions, purchasing software, and working with ISVs to acquire their applications to ensure compatibility.

Testing Applications

Testing applications means more than just installing them and making sure they launch.  Every application gets a unique test plan written for it to cover as much functionality as we can.  We write test cases to cover primary and secondary application functions – for our word processing example this would include opening a file, typing a letter, adjusting formatting, save, and print, emailing a copy to someone, etc.  These applications go through 6 or more test passes during the product cycle.

Now, we can’t test every piece of every application and we do run into some interesting challenges when we focus on a worldwide audience.  Many applications depend on location specific information (meaning if you aren’t testing the application in that location – you aren’t likely to have the information needed).  Examples include  Brazilian citizen’s CPF ID, or Brazilian personal number of identification which would be required to test something like tax preparation software. We run into similar problems with SMS applications requiring active local mobile phone accounts.

What it means to Rescue an Application

Along with the core tenet of ensuring that any application that worked on Windows Vista also work on Windows 7 we have a stretch goal to “raise the bar” and make applications work on Windows 7 that never worked on Windows Vista. For Windows 7, we have some good news early in the development cycle.   So far we have made over 30 applications that were “broken” on Vista work on Windows 7.  This means that Windows 7 will have higher application compatibility than Windows Vista.  We are continuing to push this number up.  Below is a table of the # of applications by language that we have made to work on Windows 7 but didn’t’ work on Vista.

Language Number of
Apps Fixed
Example Applications
Arabic 1 Khalifa Cartoon Characters Creator
Chinese (Simplified) 1 Arcsoft WebCam Companion
Chinese (Traditional) 3

Asure Purchase/Sale/Stock Master 2008

Cyberlink DVD Suite v6

Asure Accounting Master 2008

Czech 1 J.K.R. BYZNYS
Danish 1 Bogskabet 3.2
German 2

QuickTime 7.1.6

Haufe Personal Office Professional - Haufe Formular-Manager

Hebrew 3

Compedia Timmy in English World

Compedia Moomins: The Search for the Ruby

Compedia The Puzzling Time Quest

Hungarian 1 Infocentrum Road Register
Italian 5

Finson Costo del Lavoro Italian v2

Finson Falco 6

Finson Progetto Condominio

Finson Contintasca 7

Finson ContinBanca

Japanese 5

PostPet v3

Kenchako Adventure 9.0

WZ Editor 5.0

QuickTime 7.1.6

Overland LOKI: with Japanese Manual

Norwegian 1 Visma Avendo Fakturering
Polish 2

WF-Fakturka dla Windows

Nahlik eTeacher 5

Portugese 1 Mr. Escola Win Port
Spanish 3

Mexico Federal Taxes Simplified SAT: Individual Taxes

Monografias Spanglish

IKEA Home Kitchen Planner

Turkish 1 MYTR Filter 2.6

Along with ensuring these applications work on Windows 7 we have taken an extra step for our existing Vista customers.  Of the applications outlined in the above table, 27 of the fixes we made have been back ported to Windows Vista for possible inclusion in future updates.   We really wanted to raise the bar for application compatibility and go beyond just looking at Vista as the baseline.


There is a lot of information here and hopefully gives you some insight into what it means for us to make the application experience (application compatibility)  on Windows 7 as high as possible for users around the world.  We started out with a goal of making sure if an application worked on Windows Vista it should work on Windows 7.  We have taken that further by bringing applications that never worked on Vista to work on Windows 7 and even future updates to Vista. 

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  • Are rescued English language apps deliberately excluded? Can you please rescue Visual Studio .NET 2003, Office XP and dozens of Microsoft apps that fail on Vista? Can you rescue VLC and Nero 6? That would be awesome.

  • Don't most of the apps you just listed already have recently released Vista-compatible versions?

  • Excuse me OT.

    EU : Windows 7 is Welcomed


  • @Someone

    "Are rescued English language apps deliberately excluded?"

    Note the title of the article "International".

    "Can you please rescue....."

    Making a software application compatible does not include reviving outdated software that the vendor no longer supports. :)

  • Yeah I read the title but that's what I wanted to know. Does MS only do "rescuing" for international apps? Also, note than when Vista debuted in 2006, for example, Visual Studio .NET 2003 was not obsolete by any measure of Microsoft's definition and commitment to backward compatibility.

  • Steven,

    As someone who is apart of an multi-lingual household, both English and Spanish are apart of the daily lexicon. I'm sure this is very frequent across the United States. Besides English and Spanish, you've got this ethnic diversity across the US. Hebrew is spoken along with Yiddish. You guys understand that language diversity is strong in many countries. Microsoft and Windows by extention does support various languages and that is very commendable.

    However, if I might be allowed to be critical, Windows, Office, and many Microsoft created products don't allow you to support switching languages very easy or on the fly. Also, I might add that Windows has been lacking a dictionary and thesarus functionality, which is something I'm sure users everywhere could definitely use. I would love to see the Windows 7 team work to make switching languages on the fly a whole lot easier. It would be nice if future versions of Windows have dictionary and thesarus functions, translation matrix to other languages, and web translation of foreign websites to English along with other languages.

    I know this is difficult at best. Some things do not translate easily or at all. This is also a mountain of work to do as well. However, starting with English, Spanish, French, Japanese, German, and the typical supported languages, this is something I recommend for the next version of Windows. Windows should facilitate not only translation and definition of words. I would love to see the ability to writing something in one language, then with a menu option it is translated to a different language. Not only in Office, but in the basic document formats of notepad and wordpad. I think it might be too late for Windows 7 since you guys are getting close to forking Windows 7 over to Release Candidate Escrow within the coming weeks.

    However, I'd love to see Windows 7 or the Next version of Windows coordinate with its local customization teams that know these languages to create dictionaries, thesarus, and work together to create a translation matrix.

    As someone who has had to work with a bi-lingual education teacher, this was something I discovered both from Office 2003 and Office 2007. Since Windows has the capabilities facilitate such a dictionary either internally or via a web supported function, this would be a great leap foward for Windows. Just a thought.

  • @hitman721 -- We do this very type of work though I can imagine that it is not entirely clear how it plays out for end-users.

    There's several dimensions to the effort -- some of these include:

    * Languages you can "type and read" -- this is the support in Windows / Office for keyboards, input methods, fonts, scripts, and so on.

    * Locale you are using -- this is the support for calendars, dates, currency, etc.

    * Linguistic features supported for input -- this includes dictionaries, handwriting, speech, etc.

    * User interface of the OS -- this is the language used for the Windows user interface

    * User interface for applications -- this is the language used for the user interface of your applications and tools (such as Office)

    * Switching the user interface being used at any given time

    * Content translation -- this is a relatively new item and is part of a free service in beta for web-based content and as a service for cut/paste of content and so on.

    All of these support multiple languages and all of them are available to you to use.  Some examples:

    * Windows supports all langauges for "type and read" out of the box.  In addition, you can support any locale out of the box as well.

    * Office provides support for Spanish, French, English linguistic tools in the English version.  

    * The UI langauge for Windows depends on the market but for Ultimate customers (for Vista) these "multi-lingual packs" were available on Windows Update.  Our enterprise customers receive these as part of volume licensing.  Each market has different language support in the UI depending on market needs.

    * Windows 7, if you have the language pack installed, supports switching the user interface.  There are also many tools for enterprise admins to customize how these are defaulted and made available.

    and so on...

    Windows itself does not have dictionaries that are used by ISVs.  There are many complexities associated with offering these globally as a Windows API and it is something we will continue to investigate.  This includes spelling within Internet Explorer.

    Beyond that I think our support for this area is pretty good.  If there is a specific scenario you have in mind let us know.


  • Regarding multiple languages on a single OS install, it would be nice to set the Windows Userinterface language for each account separately, or is this already supported? This way you could have your own account in English and your wife's account in Spanish for example. I'm not sure if this is not already supported though, I haven't looked too much into the language options Windows offers.

  • @Someone

    When Vista was released in 2006, VS .NET 2003 was stil in the Mainstream Support phase. It wnet to the Extended Support phase in October 2008.

    You can see the details of this at:

    Microsoft Support Lifecycle:


    Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ:

    Backward compatibility is a whole different issue.

    Also, see the recent article here from 3/3/2009 = Application Compatibility Testing -- Overview.


  • There is a very famous Quran Reader software thas working with Xp and broke with Vista annd now Win7. I have done everything to run it with Vista but it didnot. İt says control has no parent window. I wish there was a way for me

    to send this probbel to MS and let them fix but i did not know how.

  • @hitman721, you're referring to the MUI feature of Windows? You'll only get that in Ultimate and Enterprise, fully switching languages (including all UI elements) is indeed an "Ultimate" feature. You'll get basic language switching in a Language Interface Pack (LIP) which is freely downloadable. As for the dictionary/thesaurus, you can buy a copy of Encarta 200x ($30) which includes a decent English dictionary/thesaurus with audio pronunciations. From what I've seen over the internet, there's a huge demand from users for full MUI packs for lower SKUs but MS has not yet given in. Since Office 2007, buying MUI packs has been made easier though, no need to pay for languages you'll never use.

  • @yken - what is the name of the Quran Reader software?

  • 30 international apps tested? That's nothing to brag about. Count the amount of apps, that are available in US (probably thousands), and multiply by 100... this must be the amount of international apps available worldwide. US is just a small part of the world.

    I remember working in a worldwide company, where in american branch they'd develop some kind of solution in 9 months period, and they drop it out to all the rest of the world, and tell: you can implement it in the rest of the world in 3 months. C'mon, world is bigger than US.

  • Actually, we tested over 1200 applications and rescued 30.

    These are applications that now work on Windows 7 but did not work on Windows Vista.


  • First, my apologies for an off-topic reply, but this issue has had me scratching my head for a while now (and I have sent feedback about it).

    I've discovered an odd bug involving graphics adapters that have multiple outputs, or at least my particular graphics card (GeForce 7950 GT TDH 512MB made by evga).

    I only have a single display connected to this card.  Each time I boot Win7, I can see the startup animation.  But as soon as it switches screen modes to display the login screen, my display goes into powersave.  Win7 cuts the output from whatever port my monitor is using, and forces me to disconnect it and connect to the other port on the same card, which does have output.

    In other words, if the display is connected to port 1, I'm forced to reach behind my machine, disconnect the display, it and connect it to port 2 at startup, or vice-versa (vista merely mirrors the output to both ports).  So, no matter how I toy with it, Win7 will always send video out whatever port on that card is not connected at startup.

    To call this an annoyance is an understatement to say the least; thankfully I don't reboot my machine that often.

    I wonder if anyone else has had this issue, and whether it's a nVidia or MS problem, I hope it gets resolved in the RC.  :)

    Thanks, and take care!

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