Categories
Microsoft Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

AppTitude Virtual App Machine Cuts App-V Applicatio​n Prep Time by 50%

Taking advantage of application virtualization, but need to speed your App-V project? Today App-DNA announces the AppTitude Virtual App Machine, accelerating App-V application preparation up to 50% faster than manual processes.

AppTitude tests, remediates and auto-sequences applications. Using the AppTitude automation engine to leverage the Microsoft App-V Sequencer (that comes with App-V), enterprises can avoid purchasing additional proprietary packaging tools for virtualization projects. The AppTitude Virtual App Machine (VAM) produces fully-supported App-V ready packages. All of the application preparation in one solution saves time, learning curve, cost and risk.

AppTitude speeds App-V deployments, often aligned with Windows 7 initiatives. With a unique approach and unrivaled accuracy, AppTitude can

  • Assess an application’s suitability for virtualization
  • Identify the fixes needed to quickly create App-V ready application packages
  • Automate sequencing of App-V packages

AppTitude helps enterprises:

  • Improve resource management
  • Determine the overall time, cost and risk of virtualization projects
  • Save money- no need to buy a separate sequencing product

Visit the VAM web portal to learn more about the AppTitude Virtual App Machine.

Categories
Microsoft Tools Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Download Office Migration Planning Manager (OMPM) 2010

The much-anticipated 2010 version of Office Migration Planning Manager (OMPM) is now available for download on the Microsoft Download Center. OMPM helps IT Pros discover and assess the compatibility of existing Office documents for conversion from the binary document formats (Office 97-2003: .doc, .xls, etc.) to OpenXML formats (Office 2007 and beyond: .docx, .xlsx, etc.). Additionally, OMPM 2010 adds features that assess macro compatibility with Office 2010 and 64-bit Office compatibility.  The toolkit also contains the Office File Converter (OFC), which enables bulk document conversions from binary to OpenXML formats. OMPM 2010 includes the following new features and improvements:

  • Bulk Macro Compatibility Scanning – incorporates logic from the Office Code Compatibility Inspector (OCCI) tool to produce count of potential number of VBA issues due to changes in object model.  A new option in the offscan.ini file enables activation of this scan.
  • Bulk 64-bit compatibility scanning – incorporates logic from the OCCI tool to produce a count of the potential number of 64-bit (declare) VBA issues that are due to use of 64-bit Office.  A new option in the offscan.ini file enables activation of this scan.
  • Pre-defined date filtering for scans – provides new configuration options in the Offscan.ini file to allow exclusion of files based on last accessed or last modified dates.  Files that are skipped can be logged.
  • SQL 2008/SQL 2008 R2 support – Support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 has been added. OMPM remains compatible with SQL 2005.

You can find the OMPM documentation in the Office 2010 Resource Kit.

The Environment scanning tool (OEAT) assists a customer in the assessment phase of deployment. It identifies:

  • Currently installed applications and installation environment
  • Add-ins currently in use by Office clients
  • Programs that are not registered as add-ins but still interact with Office programs
  • Provides a report on the Environmental assessment (potential upgrade issues)
  • Also reports the  Add-ins assessment–list of third party programs and information about the compatibility of those programs with Microsoft Office 2010
Categories
Microsoft Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

First Steps to Windows 7 Migration: Application Inventory and Remediation – Webinar

App-DNA and Scalable Software are doing this educational webinar which will introduce the implementation lifecycle for migrating your enterprise estate to Windows 7.

Topics covered in this webinar include,

  • Identifying and prioritizing candidate applications, machines and users
  • Assessing application and environment compatibility
  • Remediation and migration options
  • Zero-touch migration

Registration is free and is available here

Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM CDT

App-DNA and Scalable have many years experience in the planning, assesement and execution of application migration to newer Operating Systems. Their skills and tooling have been used on many occassions to effect successful migration; on-time and and within budget. This webinar represents an opportunity to benefit from some of lessons which they have learned from many customer engagements!

Categories
Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Webinar: In-depth demonstration of AOK Browse-it Tool

With the launch of Windows 7 and IE8 as the embedded browser, compatibility for web-based applications and websites is crucial to ensure a smooth and cost-efficient migration. In 2010 web applications now outnumber native installed applications by a ratio of 1.2 to 1. This trend towards adoption of web-based applications makes it critical for organisations to be able to ensure compatibility.

ChangeBASE’s latest Plug-in for browsers, AOK Browse-It, enables organisations to speed-up their migrations to IE8 by overcoming this last compatibility hurdle.

Join the AOK Team on Monday 23rd  August, 2010 (4pm BST/ 11am EST / 8am PST / 5pm CET) for an one hour webinar with Chief Technology Architect, Greg Lambert to find out the below.

The categories of compatibility challenges facing organisations migrating to IE8 including:

  • Compatibility of web-based applications that need to integrate with the browser to enable functionality
  • Rendering issues where a website, rather than an application, may not render or display correctly or certain buttons or links may not work

How AOK Browse-It can address these concerns and enable a smooth and easy migration

In-depth demonstration of AOK Browse-it including enhanced granular reporting

Courtesy: Changebase Communication emails

You would also be interested in reading –

Categories
Microsoft Virtualization Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) – Introduction

Windows XP Mode was introduced in Windows 7 as one of mitigation which would allow users to run legacy applications on Windows 7 as of one Compatibility solutions.  This method looks cool and easy. Its suited for individuals or small scale companies. However, when the size of the organization is high, this solution is not advised. It is not easily manageable and thats exactly where MED-V comes to help!

Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V), enables deployment and management of Microsoft virtual PC Windows desktops to address key enterprise scenarios. Primarily, MED-V helps enterprises upgrade to the latest version of Windows even when some applications are not yet functional or supported. MED-V builds on top of Virtual PC to run two operating systems on one device, adding virtual image delivery, policy-based provisioning, and centralized management.

MED-V helps to minimize application-to-operating system compatibility issues while accelerating operating system migration. In fact, MED-V helps remove the barriers of upgrading the operating system. By delivering Windows XP or Windows 2000 productivity applications in a Virtual PC, you can complete testing more quickly and manage incompatible applications after the upgrade. MED-V also gives users a seamless experience because virtualized applications can be accessed from the standard desktop Start menu and appear alongside native applications.

To Install, Setup and Work with Virtual Windows XP Mode in Windows 7 – Read this article

When you add MED-V to a Microsoft Virtual PC, you’ll get the following administration capabilities:

  • Virtual images repository and delivery to provide mechanisms for simplifying the process of creating, testing, delivering, and maintaining virtual images from a central location.
  • Centralized management and monitoring to help administrators manage the entire life-cycle of virtual machines deployed on desktops throughout the enterprise
  • Usage policy and data transfer control on the MED-V client to enforce user or group usage policies, access permissions to virtual images, and data transfer permissions

In coming days, you will read more on this topic!

Courtesy: Microsoft Virtualization Team Blog

Categories
Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

IE6/IE7 to IE8 Application Compatibility Beta Test Opportunity – App-DNA

Migrating to Windows 7 means upgrading to Internet Explorer 8. But until now there was no way to test web applications to ensure they are compatible with the new browser. App-DNA now offers a unique opportunity to assess IE8 application compatibility and remediation requirements for web applications in a beta version of the AppTitude application compatibility software platform that includes specific IE8 testing and remediation capabilities.

App-DNA is currently seeking eligible beta test candidates to perform testing of an upcoming release of AppTitude that includes specific functionality for IE web application compatibility testing and remediation. To register for the App-DNA AppTitude IE beta program, please complete the survey here by July 30, 2010.

internet-explorer-8Compatibility for IE8 web applications is a hurdle for enterprises planning to simultaneously migrate to Windows 7 and IE8. In addition to proven Windows 7 migration accelerators, the upcoming release of AppTitude includes new features to:

  1. Address the blockers surrounding web application compatibility
  2. Automate the capture of the web application source
  3. Test the web application’s “DNA” with specifically designed heuristic (experience based) algorithms to determine success of the application with IE8 and Windows 7 security hardening
  4. Determine best remediation paths to ensure mission-critical web applications behave well on IE8.

To register for the App-DNA AppTitude IE beta program, please complete the survey here by July 30, 2010.

Courtesy: App-DNA emailers

You would also be interested in reading –

Categories
Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Creating a Shim/Fix Using Compatibility Administrator

In the earlier article on Analyzing the ACT Reports, we learnt on how we can identify the application Compatibility issues in your machine/organization. Even If you are not keen in generating an app-report,  this method described in this article will help you learn how to mitigate an application using shims.

The Compatibility Administrator tool enables you to resolve many of your potential application-compatibility issues before deploying a new version of Windows in your organization. This tool enables you to create customized compatibility fixes, compatibility modes, AppHelp messages, and compatibility databases.

Process to Fix an Application – The steps involved in fixing an application using this tool is quite easy. First launch the application, test its functionality. If your enviroment is a locked-down one, then test the application as a Standard User. Identify the issues which arise. Use the Compatibility Administrator tool to create a new Shim database (.sdb), select the compatibility modes and fixes for this application. Apply this shim and test the application again. If the app works and responds fine, deploy the same on the machine.

Compatibility Administrator Process

Step 1: Install the Application Compatibility Toolkit and Start the Compatibility Administrator. You will need to run this as administrator

Launch Compatibility Administrator

As mentioned earlier, This tool  provides individual compatibility fixes, compatibility modes, and AppHelp messages which can help you resolve specific compatibility issues. Right click on the New Database, you will find these below options.

Creating an Application Fix Compatibility Administrator

Step 2: In this example, we will look at how you can fix an application. So lets choose Application Fix here. In this below dialog, give the application details and the executable you would wanna fix.

Create New Application Fix

Step 3: When you press the next button, you will get to see the list of the compatibility modes listed by default. If you have an issue with just the version in-compatiblity then choose the version in which the application was working earlier! You can also do a “Test Run” of the app.

OS Modes - Compatibility Administrator

Step 4: As of now, lets not choose any OS mode here. You can do it in the next window (when you have combination of shims to be choosed). As shown below, you have lots of shims to choose from. Select all the shims which would fix your application (based on the analysis you did during the Application Tests or from the Analyzed Report).

Available Shims - Compatibility Administrator

As you can see above, few of the shims do have parameters to work with. You can check the ACT Documentation to understand more on these individual shims. Check out these 2 articles, where I have written on how you can use Parameters for File and Registry Re-Direction shims (VirtualRegistry and CorrectFilePaths).

Step 5: Let me select the shims, which will resolve the issues with the application I am currently fixing. You can click on the Show Selected Button, which will list out all the shims you have selected.

Selected Shims - Compatibility Administrator

Summary Fixed Application - Compatibility Administrator

Click on Finish. This will give you the complete summary of the application and the fixes applied.

Summary Application - Compatibility Administrator

The Windows installs a System Application Fix database for use with the Compatibility Administrator. This database can be updated through Windows Update, and is stored in the %WINDIR% \AppPatch directory. The custom databases which we create are automatically stored in the %WINDIR% \AppPatch\Custom directory and are installed by using the Sdbinst.exe tool provided with the Compatibility Administrator.

Step 6: Now you need to save this shim database file, and install it. You can either install it by, right click on the shim and press install button, or by using a command-line option.

Install Shims

Or using Command Line arguments – sdbinst.exe C:\msigeek.sdb

sdbinst Command Line

You also have an option to use a query tool that enables you to search for installed fixes on your local computers.

Query Database

You can read these articles to understand more on how to create shims for specific scenarios.

You must keep it in mind that, shims would just pass the condition (in simple words.. just a return true). This does not ensure or simulate the platform. So only when you are sure that, the application functionality can be achieved and this condition is just a road-block.. you can use shims to mitigate these issues!

Categories
Microsoft Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

VirtualRegistry Shim: Registry Re-Direction to Fix Broken Apps

In this article, we will look at how to create a Registry redirection and make the application point to a new hive instead of the old one!

The Compatibility Administrator tool enables you to resolve many of your potential application-compatibility issues before deploying a new version of Windows in your organization. This tool enables you to create customized compatibility fixes, compatibility modes, AppHelp messages, and compatibility databases. To know more on how to create one and implement it, Read – Creating a Shim/Fix Using Compatibility Administrator.

Scenario: When I launch this application, and press on the browser button, i get a error dialog which says “The browse functionality requires IE6”. Windows 7 comes with IE8 as the default browser and we do not have any options to downgrade it to IE6.

Browse Internet Explorer 6

If the browse functionality will not work in IE8 or by Emulating IE7, and only works in IE6; the method to make it work is using Windows XP Mode.

On analyzing with Process Monitor (a Sysinternals tool) and clicking the Browse Button again, we will see a detailed report on all the resources this application action accessed. In this below dialog, you can find that this action has actually checked the IE Version number in the registry hive.

Process Monitor - Queries the IE Version

I reckon that the developer of this application had some functionalities which was working only with IE6 (at that time – legacy app), and hence, he would’ve added this as a launch condition. As IE8 is a higher version, and it would have a backward compatibility.. we will just need to comment this condition of checking the browser. Now if we want to send this application to the developer again to fix this simple stuff, it would involve lots of efforts of re-compiling, testing, communication etc. This is where, the shims come into picture.

In this post,we will create a new registry hive and path; make this application to point to the new hive, when the quering is done.  VirtualRegistry Shim exactly helps us in doing so.

Step 1: Create a new registry key which would mimick the original registry key. Instead of HLM->Software->Microsoft->Internet Explorer->Version, I will create a new hive in HKLM->Software->msigeek -> Fix Apps ->Internet Explorer->Version

Creating a Redirect Registry

Step 2: Launch the Application Compatibility Administrator, and create a new Application Shim. Select VirtualRegistry Shim and press the parameters button. This will give you options to configure the paths. You will need to use the ADDREDIRECT command.

VirtualRegistry Shim Parameters

Step 3: Give the parameter for this shim.

ADDREDIRECT(oldpath^newpath) is the general syntax. In our scenario, we will give it as ADDREDIRECT(HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet%20Explorer^HKLM\Software\msigeek\Fix%20Apps\Internet%20Explorer). You will need to give %20 to signify empty spaces.

VirtualRegistry Shim with IE Parameters

Step 4: Apply the shim and test the application.

Now, when I launch the browse button, the Internet Explorer window opens. What happens in background is that, a condition is checked for the old path and this shim redirects it to the new one. This passes the condition and launches the browser!

This mitigation technique can be used for any registry path redirection. If you have any application which is hard-coded and checks a particular registry key, this technique can make it refer a new path and hence pass the condition. You must keep it in mind that, this would just pass the condition (in simple words.. just a return true). This does not ensure or simulate the platform. So only when you are sure that, the application functionality can be achieved and this condition is just a road-block.. you can use shims to mitigate these kind of issues.

If you have issues with Hard-coded file paths, then do read this article!

Categories
Microsoft Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Using CorrectFilePaths Shim to Fix Broken Applications

In this article, we will look at how to create a File redirection and make the application point to a new File Path instead of the old one!

The Compatibility Administrator tool enables you to resolve many of your potential application-compatibility issues before deploying a new version of Windows in your organization. This tool enables you to create customized compatibility fixes, compatibility modes, AppHelp messages, and compatibility databases. To know more on how to create one and implement it, Read – Creating a Shim/Fix Using Compatibility Administrator.

Scenario: When I launch this application, and press on the update button, i get this below error dialog which says “Access to a certain path is denied”. This can occur in a locked down environment or as a part of the User Account Control, where the user works as a Standard User unless he elevates explicitly.

File Access Error

This application stores the configuration preferences in an ini file which gets saved in the folder C:\Windows\Downloaded Program Files\. This is a protected folder and a Standard User will not have permissions to write on it. We will need to change the path to a folder where a normal user will have the access, the %APPDATA% (User Profile’s Application Data) folder.

In this post,we will change this file path; make this application to point to the new folder, so that when this file tries to get saved…we do not get an access denied error. CorrectFilePaths Shim exactly helps us in doing so!

Step 1: Launch the Application Compatibility Administrator, and create a new Application Shim. Select CorrectFilePaths Shim and press the parameters button. This will give you options to configure the paths. You will need to use the ADDREDIRECT command.

CorrectFilePaths Shim

Step 2: Give the parameters for this shim.

General Syntax: “oldpath”;”newpath” . In this case, we will give it as  “C:\Windows\Downloaded Program Files\StockViewer.ini”;”%USERAPPDATA%\StockViewer.ini”

Parameters - Correct File Path Shim

Step 3: Apply the shim and test the application.

Now, when I click on the Save Preferences button, the configuration File gets saved. What happens in background is that, the hard-coded path is redirected to the new one. The User Application Data folder has the write access and hence the file gets created!

Redirected File gets Created in the User AppData

This mitigation technique can be used for any file path redirection. If you have any application which is hard-coded and writes to a particular restricted file paths, this technique can make it refer a new path and hence give you access.

If you have issues with Hard-coded registry key paths, then do read this article!

Categories
Microsoft Tools Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Standard User Analyzer (SUA) – Tool to Test Applications

Many of us work with Applications; either we develop or deploy them! While doing so, its important to test the developed application as a Standard User. Especially when the organization has a locked-down environment or the New Generation Operating Systems with UAC.

This helps in understanding the application behavior better. Standard User Analyzer tool exactly helps you in this purpose! This tool is a part of the Application Compatibility Toolkit.

Step 1: Install the Application Compatibility Toolkit and Start the Standard User Analyser. You dont need to run this as administrator; you can just launch it.

Standard User Analyzer

The application launches as below,

Standard User Analyzer - Application Launches

If you are aware of the SysInternals Tools Filemon/Regmon, this tool pretty much does the similar job. When you launch an application, it will monitor all the files, registries, INI files modified, the name-spaces which the app calls, the credential Privilages Process calls etc. This will give a detailed analysis on how this application behaves as a standard user.

You also have an option to run the same application as an administrator user and compare these 2 reports. This can be done, by marking the checkbox “Elevate” in the Launch Options.

Step 2: In the Target application tab, browse to the executable which the application will be launching. In this example, it is StockViewer.exe. Click on the button Launch. (You can also specify any command line arguments / parameters for this executable)

Launch Executable in the Standard User Analyzer

This tool needs a pre-requisite “Application Verifier”. If you have not installed this application, you will get this below dialog. Download and install this app.

Application Verifier is designed specifically to detect and help debug memory corruptions and critical security vulnerabilities. This is achieved by monitoring a native application’s interaction with the Windows operating system, profiling its use of objects, the registry, the file system, and Win32 APIs (including heaps, handles, locks, etc), and indicating issues when and where they are discovered. Application Verifier also includes checks to predict how well an application may perform under various account privileges. You can download it here

Application Verifier

Once Application Verifier is installed, This will actually start monitoring your application usage.  You may also get this below warning message,

Warning Message

Step 3: Start your application which you want to monitor; you can perform all the operations which an end-user would do!

While this demo, i launched my application and found that this application asked for administrator rights while launching, and also gives some ‘access denied’ error. When I close this app, the Standard User Analyzer has fetched all the requirement information which the application has accessed.

Standard User Analyzer - Application Reports

These logs and reports will explain you on the application behavior. It will also help your developers to fix this application easily. Looking from the application Compatibility front, this tool also gives you an option which identifies the mitigations and provides you options to fix them.

Apply Mitigations

When you click on the Apply Mitigation, you will get the below dialog with the list of shims which would mitigate the issues identified.

Mitigations List

You can also export this mitigation as an msi, so that you can deploy the same using any deployment tools in your organization!