Win7 Compatibility Scheme: Aims to Overcome Vista Stigma

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft is taking a two-pronged approach to making sure customers know which hardware and software is compatible with Windows 7. It's launching a database of compatible products as well as running a special labeling scheme.

The campaign is mostly aimed at making up for the Vista debacle, where many applications and devices had compatibility problems when the OS first launched in early 2007, creating a bad impression that lasted even after many of those problems were fixed. The firm will be anxious to ensure customers do not view Windows 7 in the same manner.

Windows 7 Compatibility Center

Last July, Microsoft launched a database of compatible products titled "Windows Vista Compatibility Center." This time round it will be launching a Windows 7 version of Compatibility Center right away when the new operating system makes its debut on October 22. However, Microsoft has already announced that 6,000 products have passed compatibility testing. (Source:

As well as the database, Microsoft is launching a "Compatible with Windows 7" logo which can be used on appropriate products. There is an accreditation process and fee to use the logo, though the company says this will be simpler and cheaper than similar schemes in the past.

Win7 Compatible Logo: Not for all Netbooks

There may be some products which can run Windows 7 but don't qualify for the logo, however. That's because the rules of the scheme mean "compatible" products must work with all versions of Windows 7, including the 64-bit editions.

That could be a problem for many netbooks, which are based on Intel's Atom processor, currently only compatible with 32-bit operating systems. There are already fears this could lead to confused buyers passing up PC models simply because they don't bear the logo.

At the moment, the labeling scheme will only apply to peripheral devices rather than computers themselves, so Microsoft may alter the rules when it issues labels for netbooks. (Source:

Vista Capable Legal Issues Still Haunt

It's understandable that Microsoft would act cautiously. That's because it received much criticism, and an embarrassing legal saga, over a previous labeling scheme which declared products to be "Vista Capable". It turned out that this only referred to basic editions of Vista and some computers with the logo couldn't run more advanced features, including the much-hyped Aero graphics system.

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