Testing Applications for Vista Compatibility, Part 6

by [Published on 17 April 2008 / Last Updated on 17 April 2008]

This article concludes the series on testing applications for Vista compatibility by showing you how to analyze applications for which Microsoft hasn’t provided any compatibility information.

If you missed the previous parts in this article series please read:

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In the previous article in this series, I explained that Microsoft provides Vista compatibility information for some applications. For the most part, Microsoft provides compatibility information for their own applications, but there are a few third party applications for which compatibility information is available. For example, on my test system, Microsoft has provided compatibility information for my antivirus software and for some components related to my system’s video driver.

Although Microsoft provides compatibility information for some applications, you simply cannot depend on the Application Compatibility Manager to automatically provide you with Vista compatibility information for all of your applications. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use the Application Compatibility Manager to assess the compatibility information for all of your applications though. In this article, I will show you how to use the Application Compatibility Manager to assess an application’s Vista compatibility status when no information is given.

Prioritize Your Applications

You are probably going to have a lot of different applications that you need to evaluate, so the first thing that I recommend doing is to prioritize each application. To do so, double click on an application to reveal its properties sheet. Next, select the Prioritize command from the properties sheet’s Actions menu. This will cause Windows to display the Assign Priority dialog box that’s shown in Figure A.


Figure A:
I recommend prioritizing all of your applications.

As you can see in the figure, you can set priorities ranging from Business Critical to Unimportant. After setting the priority for an application, click OK and then close the dialog box. You won’t notice any changes to the way that the applications are displayed, but later on I will show you how to sort your applications by priority.

Categorizing Applications

Once you have established application priorities, it’s a good idea to go ahead and categorize the various applications. To do so, double click on an application to reveal its properties sheet. When the properties sheet appears, select the Categorize command from the properties sheet’s Actions menu. When you do, Windows will display the Assign Categories dialog box that’s shown in Figure B.


Figure B:
The Application Compatibility Manager allows you to categorize each application.

As you can see in the figure, the Assign Categories dialog box allows you to specify whether an application is custom (meaning developed in house), third party, or provided by Microsoft. More importantly though, you can specify how complex you think that testing the application is going to be.

You might have noticed the Master Category List button that is shown in the figure above. Clicking this button allows you to edit the category list. As you can see in Figure C, you can add and remove categories, as well as change the options for each category. For example, if you wanted, you could create a category that you could use to specify whether or not an application was currently covered by your support contract.


Figure C:
You can add, remove, and customize categories.

Sorting Applications

Now that you have entered some meta data for each application, I want to show you how to sort the applications. This is important, because unless you work for a really small company with a very limited set of applications, you probably aren’t going to do all of your application testing all at once. Typically, you would probably start out by testing the business critical applications, or maybe the applications that require the least amount of effort to test.

For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that you want to start out by testing the business critical applications. To determine which applications are business critical, click the Toggle Filter button found at the top of the Application Manager console.

Using the filter can take a bit of getting used to. To begin, you must click in an empty part of the filter area. Once you do, a series of drop down lists appear. To see a list of business critical applications, you must set the filter options to And | Priority | Equals | Priority 1 – Business Critical, as shown in Figure D.


Figure D:
Use these filter options to display business critical applications.

If you look at the figure, you will notice a triangle to the left of the word And. To initiate the filtering process, you must right click on this triangle, and select the Execute command from the resulting shortcut menu. When you do, the list of applications will be filtered, as shown in Figure E.


Figure E:
This is what the filtered view looks like.

If you want to go back to viewing a full list of the applications, then right click on the triangle, and select the Clear command from the shortcut menu. After doing so, right click on an empty portion of the filter area, and choose the Execute command from the resulting shortcut menu. Click the Toggle Filter button, and you will be back to a normal view.

Testing Applications

If you look at the figure above, you will notice that the Application Compatibility Manager provides columns for your assessment, the vendor assessment, and the community assessment. The first thing that I recommend doing is forgetting all about these columns. In working with the tool to prepare for writing this article, I have been unable to enter data for the vendor assessment or the community assessment columns. Therefore, all of the data that I am going to show you how to enter will go into the My Assessment column.

With that said, double click on an application that you want to evaluate, to reveal its properties sheet. The first thing that you will probably want to do is to add any know issues. I talked about adding issues in detail in Part 5 of this series, but if you want to add an issue, then choose the Add Issue command from the Actions menu. As you can see in Figure F, you are given the opportunity to provide detailed information about the issue that you are experiencing. If there is a known solution for the issue, you can enter it on the Solutions tab.


Figure F:
The New Issue properties sheet allows you to enter information about compatibility issues and their solutions.

Set the Deployment Status

Another thing that you can do throughout the testing process is to set an application’s deployment status. To do so, choose the Set Deployment Status command from the Actions menu. When you do, you will see the Set Deployment Status dialog box, shown in Figure G. Setting an application’s deployment status won’t cause any noticeable changes, but you can use the filter to check deployment status. For example, in Figure H I have set the filter to display all of the applications that are ready to deploy.


Figure G:
You can configure each application’s deployment status.


Figure H:
You can use the filter to check the deployment status.

Setting the Final Assessment

Your goal in all of this is to figure out which applications are and are not Vista compatible. As you complete testing on each application, you can specify your assessment of that application’s compatibility status. To do so, select the Set Assessment command from an application’s Actions menu. When you do, you will see the Set Assessment dialog box that’s shown in Figure I. As you can see in the figure, you can flag each application as working, not working, or having minor issues.


Figure I:
You can assess each application as working, not working, or having minor issues.

As you set the assessment for each application, the assessment becomes visible on the main console screen, as shown in Figure J.


Figure J:
You can view your assessments at a glance.

Conclusion

As you can see, the Application Compatibility Manager can be a bit tedious to use. However, in larger organizations that have a lot of applications to test, the Application Compatibility Manager provides a great way of organizing and documenting the compatibility testing process.

If you missed the previous parts in this article series please read:

If you would like to be notified when Brien Posey releases the next part of this article series please sign up to the WindowsNetworking.com Real time article update newsletter.

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