As an ISV looking to make an application compatible with Windows 7 there are a couple of choices, although one of them won’t be a choice for much longer as more and more customers switch from Windows XP to Windows 7 – it will be mandatory! Getting an application compatible with Windows 7 isn’t difficult and it shouldn’t take more than 2 days for the majority of applications – this is how long we allowed when running the Windows 7 application compatibility labs – most developers or testers were on their way home half way through the second day. Once compatible with Windows 7 ISV’s can sign up to the Greenlight site to receive a number of marketing benefits and also let Microsoft know they are compatible with Windows 7 – that way we’ll stop bugging you about compatibility :-).

Windows 7 Certification, also known as the Windows 7 Client Software Logo Program, is the next step after compatibility, but certification isn’t for everybody and there will be a cost associated with purchasing the certificates, but Microsoft does NOT charge for certification. The commercial benefits of being certified include:

  • 30 Microsoft Partner Program points.
  • Let’s your customers know your application is compatible and certified by Microsoft.
  • Plus a number of other marketing benefits which you can find out about here.

What is less obvious are some of the technical benefits, although these are actually called requirements in the documentation :-), but what they actually do is enforce good development and testing practice, which I’ve outlined below:

Winqual – signing up to Winqual allows you to receive crash data from your application when and wherever it crashes, without having to provide the infrastructure that this would normally require. This comes for free and is managed by Microsoft. You can sign up to Winqual without being certified, and it would probably be a good idea to do this first, before you are certified, if you have no information on how often your application crashes, or we’ll start bugging you about your certification! From the many conversations that I’ve had with ISV’s in the Windows 7 compatibility labs, those that have already signed up to Winqual have said it’s one of the best things they have ever done and, something that has revolutionised they way in which they do technical support.

AppVerifier – using AppVerifier as part of your development and testing process will improve the quality of your shipped software, that’s it. So, it may take a little while to integrate this into your build process but you will find that this will reduce the number of surprises you receive just after you ship a new version :-). Again, you don’t need to be certified to do this, but it is a requirement of certification – it’s like easting more fruit and doing more exercise – it’s good for you :-).

Digitally sign applications – signing your application allows users to know that your software is genuine, it allows Microsoft to correctly identify your application, and it stops your software from being tampered with by a virus. You will have to purchase a Software Publisher Certificate from a third-party CA that is authorized by Microsoft, such as Verisign, to sign your application and you will also need to purchase another certificate to submit your application to Winqual, currently this has to be a Verisign certificate, but you can get a good deal when you purchase both together from Verisign.

There are many other technical benefits to being certified, mainly to do with being a good citizen when running on Windows 7, which you can find out about here, and you will need to use the Windows 7 Client Software Logo Toolkit to validate your application and then send the output from this to Microsoft.

Questions about the Windows 7 Client Software Logo Program should be sent to swlogo@microsoft.com.