Program Compatibility Wizard and Internet Communication
Applies To: Windows Server 2003 with SP1
This section provides information about:
The benefits of the Program Compatibility Wizard.
How the Program Compatibility Wizard communicates with sites on the Internet.
How to control the Program Compatibility Wizard to prevent the flow of information to the Internet.
How to obtain the Application Compatibility Toolkit. You can use the toolkit to improve the user experience with incompatible applications.
Benefits and Purposes of the Program Compatibility Wizard
There are some applications that work on earlier versions of Windows that might fail to function properly on Microsoft Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 (SP1). This can happen for several reasons—an application may expect older formats of Windows data, may expect user information to be in specific locations or formats, or may not be designed for the tighter security implemented in Windows Server 2003 SP1. In addition, applications written exclusively for Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Millennium Edition may use direct hardware access, which can greatly reduce operating system stability. Because of its Windows NT heritage, Windows Server 2003 SP1 requires that hardware access be handled through the correct channels.
To enable a better user experience, Microsoft has integrated technologies for application compatibility into Windows Server 2003. These technologies are applied whenever an application is installed on the operating system, whether in the course of a system upgrade or during regular operations. Some of these technologies work automatically to apply compatibility fixes, while others can be selected by users or administrators. This section describes the Program Compatibility Wizard, which can be used to make setting adjustments for an incompatible application and run the application successfully.
This section also provides a description of the Application Compatibility Toolkit, which you can use to locate and address compatibility problems. For example, with one of the tools, you can create custom messages that notify users of the problems with an incompatible application and redirect users to your intranet site.
Overview: Using the Program Compatibility Wizard in a Managed Environment
IT administrators who want to get an application to work quickly, without addressing compatibility for the application throughout the organization, may choose to use the Program Compatibility Wizard. You can use the wizard in situations where you want to determine quickly whether the prepackaged compatibility fixes can resolve problems you encounter, particularly if you are working on a computer where the Application Compatibility Toolkit is not installed. For more information about the Application Compatibility Toolkit, see ”Using the Application Compatibility Toolkit to Improve the User Experience with Incompatible Applications,” later in this section.
In Windows Server 2003 you can access the Program Compatibility Wizard by default through Programs\Accessories or All Programs\Accessories. At the completion of the wizard you are presented with “Program Compatibility Data” that states, “Microsoft has created temporary files that contain information about the settings you selected and whether the problems were fixed. Sending this information to Microsoft will help us improve program compatibility.” You can then choose to send this information to Microsoft or not. You can also choose to click a link to a Web site to view the data collection policy and you can choose to view the temporary files that will be sent. Allowing users or administrators to do this, however, may present a privacy problem for highly managed organizations.
|As an alternative to running the Program Compatibility Wizard, you can set the compatibility properties for an application manually through the Compatibility tab of a program’s Properties sheet. To do this, right-click the program icon, click Properties, click Compatibility, and then change the compatibility settings for your application.|
You can use Group Policy to control where data collected by the Program Compatibility Wizard is sent. You can prevent data transfer to the Internet by using Group Policy settings related to error reporting and you can have data from the wizard sent to a server on your intranet instead of to Microsoft. For more information about these procedures, see the section of this white paper titled Windows Error Reporting and Internet Communication.
How the Program Compatibility Wizard Communicates with Sites on the Internet
Although you can control information sent by the Program Compatibility Wizard, it is designed to communicate over the Internet to expedite problem solving. This subsection lists details of the communication process:
Specific information sent or received: The results of the Program Compatibility Wizard data, including settings and problems that were encountered with the application being installed, are sent to Microsoft. The user is not uniquely identified.
Default and recommended settings: Use of the Program Compatibility Wizard is enabled by default. Recommended settings are discussed in the next subsection, "Controlling Program Compatibility Wizard Data to Prevent the Flow of Information to the Internet."
Trigger and notification: In the last dialog box of the wizard, users are asked if they want to send information to Microsoft. Data is not sent automatically.
Logging: There is no information related to the Program Compatibility Wizard entered into the event log.
Encryption: HTTPS is used to perform the data transfer to Microsoft.
Access: The Microsoft product group has access to the raw data only.
Privacy: The privacy statement is the same as that associated with Windows Error Reporting (WER) data. A link to the privacy statement on the Web is provided in the wizard. This privacy statement is available at:
Transmission protocol and port: The transmission protocol used is HTTPS and the port is 443.
Ability to disable: You cannot disable the Program Compatibility Wizard. Using Group Policy, you can prevent data from being sent to the Internet.
For more information about the type of information that is sent to Microsoft, how the data is used, encryption, and the privacy statement, see the section of this white paper titled Windows Error Reporting and Internet Communication.
Controlling Program Compatibility Wizard Data to Prevent the Flow of Information to the Internet
Using Group Policy, you can configure Configure Error Reporting policy setting to prevent data collected by the Program Compatibility Wizard from being sent to Microsoft. By using configuration options within error reporting you can have the data sent to a server on your intranet instead of to Microsoft. When you configure error reporting this way, you activate Corporate Error Reporting (CER).
The Configure Error Reporting policy setting is located in Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\Error Reporting. For more information and procedures for configuring error reporting, see the section of this white paper titled Windows Error Reporting and Internet Communication.
If you use this approach for reporting errors, the user experience with the Program Compatibility Wizard does not change. The dialog box that presents the option of sending data to Microsoft is the same. If the user selects Yes, the data is sent to the designated server on your intranet.
Using the Application Compatibility Toolkit to Improve the User Experience with Incompatible Applications
When a user tries to run a low-level application—such as an antivirus or disk-access utility—that is known to be incompatible and compromise system integrity, Windows XP blocks the application and informs the user about it. To do this, Windows XP uses information in databases stored locally on the computer. Compatibility fixes are contained in a database file named SYSMAIN.SDB. The warning information used when an application cannot be run successfully is contained in a related database file, APPHELP.SDB.
Before Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), the operating system would also contact a Microsoft Web site for the latest information about incompatible applications. As of SP2, Windows XP only uses the information stored locally on the computer.
You can customize the way Windows XP responds to programs that are known to compromise system integrity by using the Application Compatibility Toolkit. For example, you can use one of the tools in the toolkit, the Compatibility Administrator tool, to create custom messages that notify users of the problems with an incompatible application and redirect users to your intranet site. To do this, you need to first download the Application Compatibility Toolkit, and then use tools such as the Compatibility Administrator tool.
To Read About and Download the Application Compatibility Toolkit
Read about the toolkit and find links for downloading it from the Windows Web site at:
Follow the installation instructions. Once you have installed the toolkit, you can view the Windows Application Compatibility 3.0 Reference and you can run the Compatibility Administrator tool to make the changes you need.
To Create Custom Messages for Applications with Incompatibility Problems
Make sure that the Application Compatibility Toolkit is installed by using the previous procedure.
Click Start, point to Programs or All Programs, point to Microsoft Windows Application Compatibility Toolkit, and then click Compatibility Administrator Tool 3.0.
In the console tree, click Custom Databases, and then click New Database.
On the toolbar, click AppHelp. The Create a custom AppHelp message dialog box appears.
Enter information as prompted in the dialog box.
Save the new database file.
Note When you have completed your entries and saved the file, you can deploy your changes to multiple computers running Windows XP. See "Deploying Compatibility Fixes," in Compatibility Administrator Help.
Event Logging for Events Related to the Blocking of Incompatible Applications
Events related to the blocking of incompatible applications are not logged by default. You can enable event logging in the Application log (Control Panel\Administrative Tools\Event Viewer) by using Group Policy.
To Enable Event Logging for Events Related to the Blocking of Incompatible Applications
As needed, see Appendix B: Resources for Learning About Group Policy, and then edit an appropriate GPO.
Click Computer Configuration, click Administrative Templates, click Windows Components, and then click Application Compatibility.
In the details pane, double-click Turn On Application Help Log Events, and then click Enabled.
For more information about application compatibility resources, see “Windows Application Compatibility” at: