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Lucky 7 for Microsoft Developers

Microsoft released Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 to manufacturing on Wednesday, three months prior to the planned Oct. 22 retail launch. Windows 7 could be auspicious for the Windows team after the blight of Vista, but developers need to help Microsoft sell it with compatible apps and must-have software.

The arrival of a new OS can exercise dev teams' mettle. In the case of Vista, the initial lack of drivers and a compatibility quagmire quickly snowballed into the widely held perception that for many companies, upgrading to the new OS was more trouble than it was worth.

Despite the early positive reviews for Windows 7, getting existing apps running on the new OS, especially for the Windows XP crowd, could prove challenging. The potential agony for end users is described in Walt Mossberg's Personal Technology column for the Wall Street Journal, "For Some, Move To Windows 7 Will Be Tough."

The anguish for app developers could also be rough, especially at companies that bypassed Vista, because many of the same compatibility hurdles exist for Windows 7. "The Windows Vista Application Compatibility Cookbook is still very relevant for Windows 7, as 99% of its topics apply to Windows 7," writes Yochay Kiriaty on the Windows Team Blog. He goes on to identify the seven compatibility hot buttons that afflict apps most often: version checking, data redirection, IE protected mode, session 0 isolation, installer detection, user interface privilege isolation and high dpi. Uh oh, maybe seven isn't so lucky for Microsoft.

Companies that upgraded their apps to run on Vista should have an easier time. Kiriaty recommends checking out the Windows 7 Quality Cookbook to learn more about the app functions that differ between the two systems.

On the upside, the new functionality in Windows 7 offers tremendous opportunity for developers. Microsoft is fueling this effort with a Code7 Contest that offers up to $17,777 and a free trip to PDC09 for the finalists in seven geographical locations. Contestants submit a three-minute video explaining their application, which must take advantage of at least one of these Windows 7 technologies: Libraries, Windows Touch, Shell Integration, DirectX 11, or Sensor and Location Platform.

What is your strategy for app compatibility and Windows 7? Is this the operating system that will right Microsoft's slip or is the migration path more pain than gain? Express your thoughts below or drop me a line at [email protected]

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 07/23/2009

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