Microsoft Moves to Reduce App Compatibility Woes

To aid move to Windows XP and Office XP, Microsoft creates desktop deployment portal and upgrades Baseline Security Analyzer.

In an effort to further reduce application compatibility issues for enterprises considering a move to Windows XP and Office XP, Microsoft Corp. has updated some of its tools and created a new desktop deployment portal.

Microsoft on Tuesday will announce its new Desktop Center portal as well as its updated Baseline Security Analyzer 1.1, which can be found on the portal. The analyzer scans corporate desktops for missing security updates and service packs and also identifies common system misconfigurations.

Once the scan is complete, the analyzer provides an individual XML security report for each desktop scanned. To perform local or remote scans of Windows systems, the analyzer includes a graphical and command line interface for IT managers.

"The analyzer will now also check for security configurations for Exchange 5.5 in addition to Windows XP. It has also been updated to include the security elements, configurations and issues related to the first Windows XP service pack," Rogers Weed, Microsofts corporate vice president of Windows product management, told eWEEK in an interview on Monday.

In addition, Microsoft has updated its Windows XP Application Compatibility Toolkit 2.6, which is also available on the portal. The tool kit is designed to not only help users evaluate and test applications, but also to assist IT administrators in tailoring adjustments to the applications so they are optimized for Windows XP.

The tool kit, which also incorporates the changes made in the first Windows XP service pack, can be downloaded at no cost from the Desktop Center or can be ordered on CD.

"We decided that all this information needed to be easier to find. So we moved to consolidate all the material customers needed when considering upgrading, as well as updating the tools, under one simple URL," Weed said.

"This information was previously dispersed all over our Web site, and customers were telling us they wanted it all together in one place. The tool kit will also alleviate much of the burden of testing applications and streamline the process by addressing compatibility issues before the operating system is deployed across the organization," he added.

Application compatibility has long been one of the biggest bugbears for both users and Microsoft itself with the release of each new product upgrade. Even before the release of Windows XP in late 2001, the application compatibility monster reared its head.

As was the case when Microsoft upgraded users from Windows 3.x to 95/98 and then to Windows 2000, software developers and users found that some of the applications that ran on previous versions did not run well—or at all—on the new XP platform.