Microsoft makes Windows 7 driver testing mandatory as of June 1

Hardware makers must submit Windows 7 driver test results to get Vista approval

Microsoft will require hardware makers to test their device drivers on Windows 7 to receive certification for Windows Vista, according to documents posted on the company's site.

In a long explanation (download PDF)of the Windows Logo Program, Microsoft spelled out the new requirement. "Beginning with the release of the first beta of the next operating system, all Windows Vista client and Windows Server 2008 submissions must include a complete [set of] test logs for the new beta OS," the company said in the document.

Windows 7 is the designation Microsoft has given the next version of its flagship client operating system. Although the company has disclosed a few tidbits about the OS, including multi-touch functions similar to what Apple Inc. now offers on its iPhone, Microsoft has not publicly set a release date for Beta 1.

The Windows Logo Program specifies that device drivers must be tested starting June 1. It doesn't appear that the requirement is retroactive.

The tests, submitted using the Winqual Submission Tool, are part of the qualification process Microsoft demands of peripherals and PC makers that want to use the "Windows Vista," "Certified with Windows Vista" or other similar logos on their products or packaging.

Drivers don't necessarily have to pass those tests in the first beta of Windows 7, said Microsoft, but the results must be turned over to the company. And Microsoft reminded the hardware makers and system sellers that it will hold them to account when Windows 7 nears. "Issues with hardware, system BIOS or drivers must be investigated and resolved by partners prior to the launch of the logo program for the new OS," Microsoft said.

When asked why it is requiring device driver makers to run tests in Windows 7, Microsoft released a statement via e-mail in response: "We continue to work closely with our industry partners to ensure that products and services that have obtained the Windows Vista logo certification will also be compatible for successful upgrades to Windows 7."

The statement was e-mailed by a company spokeswoman.

Earlier this week, however, Microsoft executives, including Steven Sinofsky, who heads Windows development, said that Vista's device drivers will be compatible with the new Windows 7, which is slated for a late-2009 or early-2010 release. And in an interview with News.com last Tuesday, Sinofsky alluded to the driver problems that plagued Vista's early months: "We're very clear that drivers and software that work on Windows Vista are going to work really well on Windows 7. We're going to not introduce additional compatibilities, particularly in the driver model."

Vista required new drivers for all hardware, a disruption that even high-level company executives struggled with, as some admitted in internal e-mails made public earlier this year as part of the "Vista Capable" class-action lawsuit.

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Gregg Keizer

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