How-to Microsoft Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Analyze Data Collection Reports in Application Compatibility Manager

Earlier, we have discussed on how to Setup and Configure the Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.5 and Creating the Data Collection Package to start analyzing the Applications. In this article, we will look at how to analyze this report,  and how important is to rationalize and priorotize the applications. We will also look at how to get hints and support from the Community on solving the AppCompat Issues.

Step 1: Once the data is collected, the Report of applications would look like this. As mentioned earlier, ACT has an active Community/Microsoft relations which checks and monitors all the applications and provide you ready suggestions to ease the AppCompat Process. For which you will need to Send/Recieve the Reports. Click on the button as shown below.

Send Recieve the ACT Reports to the Microsoft / Community

Once you hit the Send and Recieve button, you will be prompted with a confirmation message, which would list all the information which you will be sharing with the Microsoft Team.  You can have a look through it and then confirm. You can also review the data before sending. If you have an in-house application, and you do not want to share that report with Microsoft, you can also do that.  (The instructions are given in the later part of this article) 

Send Recieve the ACT Reports - Data

Step 2: Once when you hit the Send Button, the Report Data Exchange will start and you will see the report now with all the community/Vendor assesments. (as shown below)

Data Collected - Analyze Phase

This report will give you information on all the applications which were gathered during the Data Collection Phase.  After the data exchange, you will find all the information on Community/Vendor Assesments, Issue reports, Mitigation tips etc.. You also have options to Prioritize issues and apps.

Step 3: Lets sort this report upon the active issues now. I see that, there is an application (System Center Configuration Agent) which has 2 active issues.

Application with Active Issues

Step 4: You can rationalize application and set the priority on the same.  Right-Click on the My Assesment Tab, you will see the below options.

My assesment - ACT

You can set these below Priorities for this application. (As the name suggests). For eg: If this application is business critical for you, you can priorotize the same, so that the Application Compatibility team knows this and they take the action first on this!

Priority Lists

You also have options to categorize the application as, whether is it an in-house, Microsoft or even a Third Party Application. This would be very useful to contact the support / Technical Account Manager to check with the compatible version software.

Assign Category

You can also set the deployment Status in the report for periodic updates and references.

Set Deployment Status

As I had mentioned earlier, you can control the reports before being shared with Microsoft / Community. For eg: If you have a confidential in-house application and you do not want to share the information about that particular software with Microsoft you can opt to do that.

Restrict - Send Recieve the ACT Reports

Step 5: Now lets see some detailed instructions on what that active issue is all about. Double click on the application row. It will open another dialog, which provides you information on the Assesment, Issues, Application Attributes, the computer from which this application was fetched.

Investigating an Application

Step 6: Goto the Issues tab. This will list the 2 issues which was found. Double click one of them. This will give you information on the Priority, Severity, Symptoms and causes as well. This will give enough hints on how to fix the issue / work with this application.

Issue Description

If you know or come across a solution, you can add your description and method to mitigate an issue.  Goto Actions – Add Solution. Similarly, you can also file a new issue and ask the community for answers and opinions.

Adding Solution to an Application - Analyze

 Step 7: Once you complete the work on it, you can also set the Assesment State for that particular application. Right click on the My Assesment Area, select “Set Assesment”.

Set Assesment

Following this process, you can identify all the issues and rationalize the applications as per your organization/personal need.

How-to Microsoft Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Collect Computer details: ACT Data Collection Package (DCP)

Earlier, we have discussed on how to Setup, Install and Configure the Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.5 on a machine to start the AppCompat process. If you have not read it, I would recommend if you can have a glance through this article first.

In this article, we will look at how to Create and Deploy a Data Collection Package (DCP) to gather inventory for software, hardware, and device assets.

Step 1: Launch the Application Compatibility Manager, from the Start Menu (Right click and Run as Administrator)

Invoke Application Compatibility Manager

If you see the below dialog, you have configured the ACM correctly, If you see a wizard, then you need to follow these steps before you can continue.

Application Compatibility Manager

Step 2: By default, this window lands up in Collect Option. Goto File Menu, Create New Data Collection Package. Once you do this, you will get the below dialog.

Creating a Data Collection Package - Application Compatibility Manager

Step 3: Name your DCP. For the ease of remembering, I have named this DCP as “DataCollector_May2010”.  Now you have lots of options here to choose from. The DCP also has an ability to identify Windows Updates. You can choose that, if you want to assess the updates. One of the important point about the DCP is Scheduling.

Scheduling a Data Collection Package

The Application Compatibility Manager provides you with various options, to schedule the execution of the DCP. You can choose whether, this Data Collection should start immediately as soon as the package is installed.. or even Schedule it. For eg: If you are trying to collect the data from a site in different region, it makes sense to start the data collection at their working hours. So you can schedule it that way!

Step 4: This is another important step, where you will mention the duration the Data Collection should happen. This is the period where the ACT Data Collection Service will be running in the machine. As you see in the below image, you can choose Days, hours or even minutes.

Scheduling a Data Collection Package - Duration

In the next section, you will observe that the Log share which we created earlier will appear. This is the location, where the app log files will be written.

Step 5: Now save the Data Collection Package. This will create an msi file, which you can use it to trigger the Data Collection Service. In an individual machine, you can just double click and trigger the msi. In an enterprise environment, you can even deploy this msi using any of your deployment Tools.

Data Collection Package is Created

On invoking this package (DataCollector_May2010.msi), you will see that the ACT Data Collector Service is started.

ACT Data Collector Service - Started

This service will run for the duration, you had set earlier. (Step 4). This service will monitor all the changes and applications in your computer during this period. After this duration, you will see that this service will now be stopped and removed (see below image). (For demo purpose – i had kept it as 3 minutes)

ACT Data Collector Service - Stopped and Removes

Step 5: Once this service Stops, you can launch the Application Compatibility Manager again, and goto the Analyze Tab. Here you will see the report which were collected.

Application Compatibility Manager - Analyze Phase

Now when you click on the Applications (left side) under the Windows 7, you will get to see a list of all the applications which were gathered.

Data Collected - Analyze Phase

If you are on a good bandwidth or you prefer to see this as a Video, Check the same below.

This completes the Data Collection Process. In the next article, we will look at how to Analyze this report and work on it to mitigate applications.

How-to Microsoft Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Install and Setup the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) 5.5

We all have this question in our mind. “Why does my application break when we change the Operating Systems?”

Typically, whenever a new OS is released, Microsoft makes every effort to ensure application Compatibility. Unfortunately, as the OS evolves and when reliability, security and performance improvements are made, there are some comprises which are made that ends up breaking some applications. Thankfully, when the changes are decided to be made, there is some mitigation planned to address the applications which are broken. Out of which, One of the mitigation tool is “Application Compatibility Toolkit”. In this article, we will look at how to setup this toolkit and Start the AppCompat Process.

ACT Toolkit is Collection of tools which can be used to gather inventory for software, hardware, and device assets. Get Vendor Support and community Statements, Recommendations for fixing applications and also tools to apply compatibility fixes or “shims” to applications. This tool is a free ware. As it has a capability to collect inventory, it needs a place to store these information. Hence, you will need a SQL Server as a pre-requisite. Even a SQL Express will do.

You can download the SQL Server Express edition and Application Compatibility Toolkit from these websites to begin with!

Step 1: Install the SQL Server on your machine. I already have SQL Express installed on my machine; I can see the SQL service running on my machine. (see image below)

SQL Server Express - Installation

Step 2: Start the installation of the Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.5 (Application Compatibility Toolkit.msi)

Application Compatibility Toolkit - Installation

Step 3: Continue the installation by pressing the Next Button and Install Button.

Application Compatibility Toolkit - Installation Location

Application Compatibility Toolkit - Installation Complete

Once the software is installed, you can see these tools as a part of the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) 5.5. (We will look more in detail about these individual tools in the future videos.)

 Application Compatibility Toolkit - Programs and Softwares

To configure the Application Compatibility Manager, First launch the program as an Administrator. (Right click and Run as Administrator).

Step 4: When you launch this shortcut for the first time, you will get a wizard to configure the program. This is necessary so that, the inventory of your apps can be gathered.

Application Compatibility Toolkit Configuration Wizard

Leave it as the default Enterprise Configuration, Click Next,

Application Compatibility Toolkit Enterprise Configuration

Step 5: Now configure the Database; Click on the Combo Box, you will see the SQLServer Engine. (as shown below) . Click on the Connect Button. This would allow the ACT tool to connect to the SQL Database.

Application Compatibility Toolkit Configurating your ACT Database

Step 6: Name your Database and click on the Create Button. For the demo purpose, i have entered ACTDEMO. Click Next to continue,

Application Compatibility Toolkit - Naming your ACT Database

Step 7: This is another important Step, As this application would gather the inventory of the apps (from different machines also), you need to create a Writeable Share where the logs can be stored. Create a Folder and give Write permissions for everyone on this! Now mention that Shared path in this below dialog. (for eg: \\vj-pc\ACTLogs)

Application Compatibility Toolkit - Log File Location Configuration

Step 8: Complete the Configuration. By clicking on the Finish Button.

Application Compatibility Toolkit Configuration Wizard - Completion

If you observe in the above dialog, you have an option to join the ACT Customer Experience Program. By being a part of this, you can share and exchange your learnings and compatibility reports with the Microsoft.

This completes the Installation and configuration of the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) 5.5. For more detailed Demonstration -If you are on a good bandwidth or you prefer to see this as a Video, Check the same below.

Microsoft Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Solve Application Compatibility Challenges in Windows 7 – Video from App-DNA

For most of the world’s large enterprises, the migration to Windows 7 is already underway. This is emphatically not the ‘wait and see’ attitude we experienced with Vista. And every expert agrees: the main step to getting your application estate over to Windows 7 is tackling application compatibility.

App-DNAWith that in mind, The App-DNA team has brought together three of the very best experts to discuss the migration and application compatibility issues you’re about to face as you move your organization to Windows 7 – along with App-V, 64-bit or server-based computing.

These are three heavy-hitters who have seen more migrations than most:

  • Chris Jackson, Microsoft’s famous ‘App-Compat Guy’
  • Andy Wray, head of the Microsoft Practice at HP
  • Paul Schnell, CTO of App-DNA, the app-compat pioneers

In this short, powerful video, moderated by leading tech journalist Cliff Saran, you’ll hear:

  1. Why enterprises are moving to Windows 7 so soon
  2. Why Service Pack 1 isn’t delaying the market
  3. Why this is the ideal opportunity to optimize your desktops
  4. The new record for number of apps in one enterprise (the old record was 91,000!)
  5. Why app compatibility is THE #1 challenge
  6. What the main stumbling blocks are for the apps that will struggle to migrate
  7. How you can emerge from this migration with much better app management processes
  8. Where virtualization, 64-bit and server-based computing fit in

You can watch this video here – The Journey to Windows 7

I would recommend you also read the Complete Application Compatibility Series

Microsoft Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Springboard Series Virtual Roundtable – Plan, Test and Assess Windows 7 Deployment

On April 29th, join Microsoft Technical Fellow, Mark Russinovich, as he will be leading a discussion around the process of planning, testing, assessing and rolling out Windows 7 in an enterprise organization. Mark will be joined by a panel of IT professionals who are currently in the piloting and deployment process, along with Microsoft subject matter experts who can speak in depth about the technologies. The event will be broadcast live over the web at 9:00 am PDT, and will be available for on-demand viewing following the broadcast.

Windows 7 LogoThe discussion will be open and candid, with the panel sharing insights, dispelling myths and getting down to the real story around technical adoption of Windows technologies. Specific topics will include the role of the pilot and the critical information it provides, best practices and tips & tricks for ensuring a successful effort, tools and technologies that will help automate the pilot and deployment processes, and conducting a frank post-pilot assessment. During the event, Mark will field questions coming in via the web from viewers across the globe.

Access the VRT live at:

Missed a previous Springboard Series Virtual Roundtable?

  •  You can read the Questions and Answers of the Part 2 to get more information on how Virtualization can help Application Compatibility
  • Gain insight, tips, and tricks from Microsoft Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich, industry experts, and IT professionals from around the world from the recordings

Looking at Windows 7 Deployment?

Complete Application Compatibility Series

Community Activities General Microsoft

I will be speaking at the Microsoft Teched India 2010

Microsoft Tech-Ed India 2010 is the premier technology event of the year for IT professionals and developers. It’s the forum to learn, connect, explore, and evolve. I would recommend you to attend this event, because you will learn about today’s cutting-edge trends, thereby enhancing your work profile and getting ahead of the rest. But the most important benefit of all just might be the networking opportunity that this forum will provide you… you can build personal connections with Microsoft experts and peers that will last far beyond this event!

It feels good to share the information that, I will be speaking at this year’s event!

Teched India 2010

As a part of the premier talk, I will be doing a Level 300 session on “Overcoming the application compatibility hurdle in Windows 7” – April 13th 12.30 to 13.30

This session will outline these below points – 

  • Core OS changes which the Windows 7 Operating System has undergone and how it would affect the Line of Business applications.
  • Top focus areas when you move to Win 7 from Windows XP and Vista.
  • Brief explanation on the various methods to mitigate the compatibility issues.  
    • Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.5 – Basics, Setup Instructions, explaining the ACT reports, Standard User Analyzer and Shims.
    • Overview of Microsoft Virtualization Solutions like Remote Application Hosting, Virtualize Applications and Desktop Virtualization.
  • We will also look at some of the simple steps to fix these broken applications using Compat modes, Shims and Windows XP Mode.

Apart from this, I will also be doing a Chalk Talk session and will be involved in a Group Discussion (Community Track)

Chalk Talk – Let’s Service an OS Image offline using DISM Utility – April 12th 2010 – 14.00 to 14.30

This session will not have any slide decks in it., It will be demos and demos only!  We will see the Capabilities of the DISM tool which was introduced in Windows 7. and how can it make an IT Pro administrator’s life easy. This session will also showcase how to mount a Wim Image and customize the OS image offline like, Add drivers to it, remove folder permissions and how to enable/disable OS features!

Panel Discussion – Power Windows 7 Users – April 14th 2010 – 14:30 to 15:00

I will be a part of the discussion session along with Manan, Allen and few other MVPs discussing on the features and enhancements which Windows as an operating system has undergone. The talk would focus more on Windows 7 Image backup, Action center, DISM, UAC, troubleshooters, USB tool, XP Mode, Quick fix tools for Windows, IE 8 usability, Tools like WinDirStat and EasyBCD, RT Se7ev etc.

Thanks again for all the support you have been giving me., Hope these sessions go on well.!

All Speaker Profiles –

View the complete agenda here; To register for the Microsoft Teched India 2010 event click here

Events Microsoft

TechNet Webcast: Migrating from Internet Explorer 6 to Internet Explorer 8

internet-explorer-8You are probably excited about the new Windows 7 operating system, and the Windows Internet Explorer 8 Web browser comes as part of the package. You may have seen the demos of new features and tools that are available, but you are still using Internet Explorer 6. The demos are always simplified, and you see pages with a single issue conveniently fixed using a click of a button. But it is definitely not that easy. You could have thousands of apps, many of them packaged, or you could be prevented from accessing the code because it is part of a product you bought.

Attend this demonstration-heavy webcast, have your questions answered by the experts and learn what IT professionals do in real-world scenarios to configure, manage, deploy, and ensure the compatibility of their Web applications with Internet Explorer 8. 

Tuesday, March 09, 2010 6:00 AM Pacific Time (US & Canada)

You can register for this webcast here. You will need a Windows Live / Hotmail id to process your registration.

I would also recommend you read these article on How to Fix Browser Compatiblity Issues and OS Version Issues.

Presenters of this session: Chris Jackson*, Principal Consultant and the Technical Lead of the Windows Application Experience SWAT Team, Microsoft Corporation and Maggie Chen, Product Manager, Microsoft Corporation

*Chris Jackson is a widely recognized expert in the field of Windows Application Compatibility, creating the technical documentation, training, and service offerings used inside and outside of Microsoft based on years of real-world experience with enterprise customers and independent software vendors.


Windows 7 Application Migration Checklist from App-DNA

There’s no need to lose sleep over Windows 7 application migration. There are plenty of things you can do to make life easier for yourself and your users. The App-DNA team has compiled a quick checklist packed with tips and resources to help make your migration faster, easier and less disruptive.

App-DNAIt covers all the key points, for instance: project scoping, resource allocation, pre-migration assessment and lots more. It tells you why testing against a generic Windows 7 version is a waste of time, and how getting your house in order beforehand isn’t just a nice idea.

The checklist won’t migrate your apps to Windows 7 for you, but it will definitely save you some time and effort.

Download the App-DNA Windows 7 Migration Checklist here (pdf document)

Courtesy – App-DNA

Microsoft Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Localized Documentation for the Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.5 (ACT 5.5) is now available in 10 Languages

The Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) enables software developers, independent software vendors (ISVs), and IT professionals who work in a corporate environment to determine, before rolling out within the organization, whether their applications are compatible with a new version of the Windows® operating system. ACT also enables such individuals to determine how an update to the new version will impact their applications.

You can use the ACT features to:

  • Verify your application’s, device’s, and computer’s compatibility with a new version of the Windows operating system, including determining your risk assessment.
  • Verify a Windows update’s compatibility, including determining your risk assessment.
  • Become involved in the ACT Community, including sharing your risk assessment with other ACT users.
  • Use the provided developer and test tools to test your Web applications and Web sites for compatibility with new releases and security updates to Internet Explorer®, to determine potential compatibility issues due to the User Account Control (UAC) feature, to create compatibility fixes for your application compatibility issues, and to determine any potential application installation and setup issues.

Localized Documentation for the Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.5 (ACT 5.5) is now available in 10 Languages for your reference!!

Events Microsoft

Webinar: Best Practices for Windows 7 Application Compatibility

Are your business-critical applications compatible with Windows® 7?

Join Microsoft’s “App Compat Guy” Chris Jackson for expert tips on how IT can avoid costly Windows 7 migration delays.

Webinar: Best Practices for Windows 7 Application Compatibility
Date: Thursday, December 17
Time: 12pm EST (9am PST, 5pm GMT)

For many IT teams, migrating to Windows 7 is the most important project of 2010. But to minimize risk and ensure a smoother move to Windows 7, you need strategies for resolving application compatibility issues, especially with your business-critical apps.

This webinar will provide IT with best practices for resolving Windows 7 application compatibility issues. Join AdminStudio® application packaging experts and Microsoft’s “App Compat Guy” Chris Jackson to learn about their experiences with early Windows 7 adopters.

Find out about:

  1. The most common application compatibility issues and their causes
  2. Best practices for avoiding Windows 7 application compatibility issues
  3. Essential elements to a successful Windows 7 migration plan

You can register for this Webinar here!!!

Also learn how AdminStudio enables users to accelerate Windows 7 and application virtualization migrations with a single application readiness toolset, minimizing risk, time, and cost of migrations.

Plus get answers to your Windows 7 application compatibility questions during the live QA!!