Category: Compatibility

Dependencies when app compat testing in Windows 7

When testing application compatibility when moving to Windows 7 you can use ACT (Application Compatibility Toolkit) and the tools in there to test and fix applications. Another tool that you can use to learn about dependencies when compatibility testing your applications is a tool called Dependency Walker.

With this tool you basically open a system file, for instance a DLL or an OCX file, and it will list its dependencies to other files on the system. This can be good for finding what is causing registration of for instance DLL or OCX files to fail on Windows 7 while it works fine on Windows XP. There can be runtimes missing.

HOW TO: Find 16-bit applications in your ACT inventory

When companies deploy Windows 7 most of them are looking at the 64-bit version of Windows 7. This architecture of Windows does not support running 16-bit applications, which unfortunately still is widely in use. If you do an inventory with ACT (Application Compatibility Toolkit) it will inventory all executables as well as CMD files and some other stuff and it will contain information about 16-bit applications lying around and being used by the users in your business.

The trick is that the GUI does not provide a way to view these applications so you have to turn to doing a SQL query using for instance the SQL Management Studio Express tools. Use the SQL Query below to get information on any none 32- or 64-bit executable. The query (thanks to Chris Jackson) will return for instance WOW (Windows on Windows) or DOS applications and that will/might indicate a 16-bit app which you should prioritize to test and handle as necessary.


SELECT DISTINCT Applications.appName, Static_App_Properties.fileName, fileModuleType

FROM Static_App_Properties
INNER JOIN Application_Instance_Files
ON Static_App_Properties.identity_hash = Application_Instance_Files.filePropertyID
INNER JOIN Applications
ON Application_Instance_Files.appID = Applications.identity_hash

WHERE fileModuleType<>'32BIT' AND fileModuleType<>'64BIT' AND propertyType='File'

ORDER BY appName

Happy hunting for 16-bit applications! :)

Look at the application to manifest to see the requested execution level

Yesterday I blogged about the classic shim for suppressing the UAC prompt for certain applications. To determine why an application requests an UAC prompt you can look at the application manifest, if it has one at all. The handy little tool ManifestView lets you load an EXE file and see which requested execution level the developers have set for it.

If you should find the requested execution level to be set to something you do not like, for instance “runAsAdministrator” when what you actually want to do is to run is as a standard user, you can apply a shim to the EXE file to solve that problem. Be aware that most of the times the higher execution level is set for a reason but that does not mean you can still fix the problem, sometimes by modifying file and registry permissions for instance.

Classic shimming tip for forcing apps to run without UAC prompting

If you during your way in testing app compatibility with Windows 7 encounter an application that require a UAC prompt to launch you can suppress this UAC prompt by creating a more or less classic shim “RunAsInvoker”. A few years ago Microsoft posted this as a KB article but not long after it vanished. Now the guide for creating this shim is available in Ask The Performance Team blog and I strongly suggest you put this shimming tip in mind because it might come in handy when you least expect it.

ACT 5.6 released – many improvements

Being at TechEd in North America last week it seems that ACT 5.6 was released on Monday last week. Among the improvements are tools for migrating to the 64-bit platform, including a 64-bit version of the Compatibility Administrator.

The assessment overview is something that also has been improved and I strongly recommend you to download and intall this tool if you are making an inventory for upgrading to Windows 7.

Download at MS Download Center.

Custom commands when deploying Windows 7

I got a question the other day on a problem where a person is installing a set of applications during deployment of Windows 7, using MDT 2010. The problem is that one application requires to be run in Vista compatibility mode before it can even be installed, most likely due to a check in the installer for which Windows version is being used, a rather common compatibility issue.

One solution to this is to use Compatibility Administrator which is a part of ACT to create a so called “shim” which makes the installation go through, fooling the application that the OS is Windows Vista even though it is Windows 7. But, how do we get the shim applied during our deployment, which we want to automatic?

It is rather simple, just add a “run custom command” in the task sequence before the application is installed, which applies the compatibility shim to the machine, making the installation run through. Also note that you can run custom commands in the “applications” section in MDT2010, just add the command line to the path field and off you go!

Drivers for old Soundblaster cards in Windows 7 and Windows Vista

A problem when Windows Vista was released some years ago was the fact that Creative wasn’t too “creative” to create drivers for older Soundblaster cards. This is where the kX Project comes in as it provides drivers for most older Soundblaster audio cards in newer operating systems.

But why on earth do I mention this now that Vista has ben out for a few years? Well the reason is that I’ve heard of users (some of which totally skipped Vista) that are testing Windows 7 on older machines and does not find a driver for their Creative Soundblaster audio card.

If you are looking for a Windows Vista och Windows 7 driver for your Soundblaster range of audio card go to

EDIT: URL updated.

Fool a web site into thinking you are another browser or OS

Some time ago I wanted to see a soccer game via Canal Digitals web service but as I am running Windows 7 on my Media Center connected to my TV the web service discovered this and did not let me play this using Windows Media Player and instead offered me to view it in Flash format. Viewing the game in Flash format really wasn’t the best in quality and as I and my co-watchers discovered the game was more or less unwatchable.

In halftime I had the time to do the necessary corrections to fool the web service into presenting itself as another operating system and Internet Explorer version. This made the Windows Media stream instantly and not to mention with much better quality. This is done easilty by changing the so called user agent string which is a string which presents certain information such as OS, web browser and version and some more info.

If you want to change the user agent string and fool a web site or service into thinking it is something it is not you can do this using one of the registry fixes found at

What does a Windows 7 logo’ed application really mean?

Now that Windows 7 RTM is closing in and it has been announced that Windows 7 will be available to partners as early as late July I thought I’d share a few facts about what an application being certified for Windows 7 really mean. For software developers to receive the “Windows 7” logo it must pass certain required tests. The certification process include for example the following requirements:

  • No installation blocks. One common problem is that software developers check which operating system the application is trying to be installed on which causes an application to not install on the latest operating system. For an app to become certified there must be no such blocks.
  • Remote Desktop Services environment. All apps must work in a multi user environment such as Remote Desktop Services (former Terminal Services) or when multiple users are logged on locally on a client machine.
  • Handling crash data. The developers must actively participate and handle application crash data that is sent to Microsoft via the built in application error reporting in Windows. For instance if an application carrying the “compatible with Windows 7 “ logo is discovered to cause more than 20 percent of crashes the developers have 30-90 days to present a plan to fix the problem(s), or the logo is revoked. 
  • Installation and uninstallation. Applications must install cleanly to standard locations in the file system and it must be possible to uninstall the application. 
  • Support for 64-bit platform. Applications that receive the logo must fully work on 64-bit version of Windows 7, either natively or by using WoW64.

That is just a few requirements that an application must pass before it gets the “Compatible with Windows 7“ logo. More information can be found at

Windows XP mode for Windows 7!

So it seams it isn’t a secret anymore that Windoyws 7 will get a feature (separate download) that using the latest Virtual PC technologies will make it possible to run applications in Windows XP directly integreated into the Windows 7  operating system. The feature is almost the same as MED-V which accomplishes basically the same thing, but The “Windows XP mode” has advantages like it is available for anyone running Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate SKUs.

With this Microsoft can guarantee compatilibty in a way no one could ever expect. This also makes the step from Windows XP to Windows 7 much easier and now there cannot be any apps holiding anyone back from upgrading the clients to Windows 7.

More information: Winsupersite