Five Steps to Windows 7 Application Readiness
In this article:
Streamlining Your Application Analysis and Testing Project
What’s our next project? Test our applications to get ready for Windows 7? No problem, boss. We just have about 950 that we need to look at…
Why Do Applications Break in Windows Vista and Windows 7?
So what changes were made in Windows 7 (and Windows Vista) that caused applications designed for Windows XP to ‘break?’ To be sure, the engineering teams responsible for Windows Vista and Windows 7 didn’t take the issue lightly.
Five Steps to Manage Application Readiness for Windows 7
Like most big undertakings, the challenge isn’t insurmountable if you take the time to deconstruct the problem into logical, manageable tasks.
Step 1: Collect an Application Inventory
The first step is to take an application inventory to understand exactly where you stand—and believe us; at this point you’ve probably just realized the problem is bigger than you thought. But more importantly, you’ve just turned an ‘unknown’ into a ‘known’ and are in a better position to scope the testing and readiness program and understand the challenges ahead.
Step 2: Analyze Your Applications
How many applications do you currently support that have been replaced or have otherwise fallen out of favor with business users? If you’re like most organizations, a sizable number of them—in some cases most of them. So once you done your assessment and have a good ‘lay of the land,’ the next step is to scrub your supported application list and filter them down, before you undertake the time consuming—and costly— process of regression testing.
Collect information from business users to help prioritize those apps that are mission critical, and determine which departments are using which apps. This will be useful when you sequence your testing process; you’ll want to align the timing of your testing to your staged roll-out of the new desktop image.
Step 3: Assess Incompatibilities and Mitigation Options
No doubt you will find some applications that need some work to get them ready for Windows 7. At this point you have several options:
For custom or in-house developed applications, you can of course modify the code. This isn’t always an option, but if it is, there are great resources to help. The Application Compatibility Cookbook, for example, notes the changes made from Windows Vista to Windows 7 and is available as a free guide to help developers recode an application for native compatibility.
Step 4: Prepare for the OS Deployment and New Application Delivery Options
The start of an OS migration project is a great time to rethink how you package and deliver applications to your end users. Virtualization technologies have opened up options that simply weren’t available for the last major OS migration; you should consider different models for desktop image and application delivery before beginning the testing process. You might find that the savings in application testing and readiness more than offsets the cost of implementing a virtualized environment—while providing a more flexible and easier-to-manage environment for future efforts.
Step 5: Sequence Your Testing, Piloting and Deployment Efforts
Use your prioritization from step 2 to sequence your testing efforts, so you can begin the staged roll-out with and conduct subsequent testing in parallel.
Once you are ready to start rolling out into production, identify the people for whom a migration makes sense first—based on specific capabilities they need, or to minimize business disruption. Migrating a group of expert users will be easier than dealing with the help desk calls from task workers who now are looking at an unfamiliar screen and don’t know what to do with it. Next, identify which applications these groups will need to perform their work. Start with groups that are minimally or unaffected by application compatibility based on the applications they use, this will enable you to validate the deployment process and the operating system. As you work through your application portfolio and more groups become unblocked from incompatible applications, then target those groups.
Readying your application portfolio for a migration to Windows 7 is a major undertaking, but fortunately there are a number of tools and an abundance of guidance to make the process more streamlined and manageable. We have just scratched the surface in this article; if you’re ready to dive deeper and get the process rolling, a great next step is to visit the Windows Client Application Compatibility Top Task page on TechNet, download the Application Compatibility Toolkit, and start building your project plan!