Organisations installing Windows 7 will face significant compatibility issues, despite the effort that Microsoft has put in smooth the adoption path of the new operating system.
That's according to automated testing company London-based ChangeBase which has just undertaken a proof-of-concept test of Windows 7 with 20 large users, each containing a few thousand applications. The company found that about that 60-80 percent of an organisation's applications will need some work before they're able to handle Windows 7 fully.
ChangeBase's managing director John Tate said that software compatibility was still one of the biggest challenges that Microsoft faced in getting their users from XP to Win7, although he agreed that the situation had got better since the launch of Vista. "the leading software vendors have addressed some of the issues," he said. But, as he pointed out, it's not really a Microsoft problem but one for the software vendors and the user companies.
Of course, he added, not all the issues were major ones and some companies could live with a level of incompatibility on some of the issues. "It depends on how picky you are with issues, they can range from not installing or not displaying the help screen." Interestingly, it's not always the leap from XP that is causing difficulties, he said that ChangeBase had encountered significant problems when it came to moving from Vista to Windows 7. "There are about eight to 12 percent apps won't run on Win7 but will run on Vista," he said.
ChangeBase found that there were compatibility problems with off-the-shelf software and in-house written software, although most issues were with the latter. He said that there was a wide range of packaged applications that had some sort of incompatibility with Windows 7 but wouldn't be drawn on naming them.
The company produces software called AOK that enabled identification and fixing of compatibility problems, even with legacy software where the source media is missing - although he warns that five percent of problems remain unfixable - "it's not a magic black box," he said.
The software is usually sold through service providers, he said. "Businesses looking to roll out Windows 7 should test their applications in advance. For many corporates it's an opportunity to rationalise their applications," he added.