Microsoft enlists partners to ease Vista compatibility

Microsoft has tapped global consulting partners to help customers make applications compatible with Vista

Microsoft has tapped a group of consulting partners to help ensure companies' applications will be compliant when they decide to deploy Windows Vista across the enterprise.

Through an initiative Microsoft has dubbed the Windows Vista Application Compatibility Factory, or ACF, Microsoft has trained a group of partners and is giving them access to a host of internal resources to help customers make sure their applications will work with Vista, said Dave Wascha, director of Windows client for Microsoft.

Satyam Computer Services, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro are working with Microsoft on ACF. Microsoft picked these companies because they work globally and have "done deep and significant training around Windows Vista, specifically in enterprise environments," he said.

"They have the 'red phone' to Microsoft, as it were," Wascha said. As part of ACF, these partners will have access to Microsoft's Knowledge Base, an internal database of technical information on products, as well as giving them exclusive guidance in their customer engagements to ensure Vista compatibility.

In a typical ACF scenario, the consulting firm would first take an inventory of all the company's applications, and then assess where they are not compatible with Vista. Then Satyam, Tata or Wipro would work with a customer to devise a rollout plan for Vista, take corrective action to ensure all applications are compatible and then certify that all the applications work on the new OS.

Microsoft did not undertake this kind of effort around Windows XP, Wascha said, but the company realized that specific changes in Vista -- such as security enhancements -- will likely cause incompatibility problems for enterprises. ACF is designed to help ease customers' woes in these areas, he said.

Microsoft in general also made more preparatory resources available for Vista than it did for XP, so companies already realize where the problem areas are, Wascha said. This makes an initiative such as ACF a viable answer to compatibility problems, he said.

Vista testers said as recently as a week ago that some third-party applications still are do not work properly on the latest test build of the OS, Vista Release Candidate 2. The Check Point VPN client, the BlackBerry desktop software and the Trend Micro OfficeScan corporate antivirus products are still not compatible with that build, they reported, which means third parties have more work to do to ensure these applications get up to speed once Vista is available.

According to its current schedule, Vista is scheduled to be sent to manufacturers sometime in the next two weeks, and be available to business customers in November. General availability of the OS is expected by the end of January 2007.

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