Using the Compatibility Administrator
The Compatibility Administrator tool can help you to resolve many of your compatibility issues by enabling the creation and the installation of application mitigation packages (shims), which can include individual compatibility fixes, compatibility modes, and AppHelp messages. The flowchart in Figure illustrates the steps required while using the Compatibility Administrator to create your compatibility fixes, compatibility modes, and AppHelp messages.
The following terminology is used throughout the Compatibility Administrator:
- Application fix A small piece of code that intercepts API calls from applications, transforming them so that Windows 7 will provide the same product support for the application as previous versions of the operating system. This can mean anything from disabling a new feature in Windows 7 to emulating a particular behavior of a previous version of the Win32 API set.
- Compatibility mode A group of compatibility fixes that work together and are saved and deployed as a single unit.
- AppHelp message A blocking or non-blocking message that appears when a user starts an application that you know has major functionality issues with Windows 7.
- Application mitigation package The custom database (.sdb) file, which includes any compatibility fixes, compatibility modes, and AppHelp messages that you plan on deploying together as a group.
The Compatibility Administrator is the primary tool that most IT professionals will use when testing and with mitigation application compatibility issues. To start the Compatibility Administrator, click Start, point to All Programs, select Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.5, and then choose Compatibility Administrator.
Creating a Custom Compatibility Database
You must apply compatibility fixes, compatibility modes, and AppHelp messages to an application and then store them in a custom database. After creating and applying the fixes, you can deploy the custom databases to your local computers to fix the known issues.
To create a custom database, perform the following steps:
- On the Compatibility Administrator toolbar, click New.
- The New Database(n) [Untitled_n] entry appears under the Custom Databases item in the left pane.
To save a custom database, perform the following steps:
- On the Compatibility Administrator toolbar, select Save from the File menu.
- In the Database Name dialog box, type a name for the compatibility database and then click OK.
- In the Save Database dialog box, type the path and file name of the new compatibility database and then click Save.
Creating a Compatibility Fix
The Compatibility Administrator provides several compatibility fixes found to resolve many common application compatibility issues. You might find that a compatibility fix is not properly associated with an application because it was not found during previous testing by Microsoft or the ISV. If this is the case, you can use the Compatibility Administrator to associate the compatibility fix with the application. Compatibility fixes apply to a single application only. Therefore, you must create multiple fixes if you need to fix the same issue in multiple applications.
To create a new compatibility fix, perform the following steps:
- In the left pane of the Compatibility Administrator, click the custom database to which you will apply the compatibility fix.
- From the Database menu, select Create New and then select Application Fix.
- Type the name of the application to which this compatibility fix applies, type the name of the application vendor, browse to the location of the application file (.exe) on your computer and then click Next.
- Select an operating system to emulate, click any applicable compatibility modes to apply to your compatibility fix, and then click Next. If you know that an application worked properly with a previous operating system version, such as Window XP, you can apply the existing compatibility mode and then test the application to ensure that it works on Windows 7.
- Select any additional compatibility fixes to apply to your compatibility fix. Click Test Run to verify that your choices enable the application to work properly. When you are satisfied that the application works, click Next.
- Click Auto-Generate to automatically select the files that the Compatibility Administrator recommends to represent your application and then click Finish. The Compatibility Administrator adds your compatibility modes, fixes, and matching information to your custom database, and the information appears in the right pane.
Creating a Compatibility Mode
The Compatibility Administrator provides several compatibility modes, which are groups of compatibility fixes found to resolve many common application compatibility issues. You can create custom compatibility modes that contain multiple fixes and then apply these compatibility modes to applications.
To create a compatibility mode, perform the following steps:
- In the left pane of the Compatibility Administrator, click the custom database to which you will apply the compatibility mode.
- From the Database menu, select Create New and then select Compatibility Mode.
- Type the name of your custom compatibility mode in the Name Of The Compatibility Mode text box.
- Select each of the available compatibility fixes to include in your custom compatibility mode and then click >. If you are unsure which compatibility modes to add, you can click Copy Mode to copy an existing compatibility mode.
- Click OK after adding all of the applicable compatibility modes.
Creating AppHelp Messages
The Compatibility Administrator enables you to create the following blocking or non-blocking AppHelp messages, which appear when a user starts an application that you know has functionality issues with Windows 7:
- Blocking AppHelp message (also called a HARDBLOCK) Prevents the application from starting. Instead, it provides an error message dialog box that explains why the application did not start. In this situation, you can also define a specific URL where the user can download an updated driver or other fix to resolve the issue. When using a blocking AppHelp message, you must also define the file-matching information to identify the problematic version of the application and allow the corrected version to continue.
- Non-blocking AppHelp message (also called a NOBLOCK) Allows the application to start but also provides an error message dialog box to the user. The dialog box includes information about security issues, updates to the application, or changes to the location of network resources.
To create an AppHelp message, perform the following steps:
- In the left pane of the Compatibility Administrator, click the custom database to which you will apply the AppHelp message.
- On the Database menu, click Create New and then click AppHelp Message.
- Type the name of the application to which this AppHelp message applies, type the name of the application vendor, browse to the location of the application file (.exe) on your computer, and then click Next.
- Click Auto-Generate to automatically select the files the Compatibility Administrator recommends to represent your application and then click Next.
- Select one of the following options for your AppHelp message:
- Non-blocking Display a message and allow this program to run.
- Blocking Display a message and do not allow this program to run.
- Click Next. Type the URL and message text to appear when the user starts the application and then click Finish.
In this tutorial:
- Testing Application Compatibility
- Understanding Compatibility
- Why Applications Fail
- Choosing the Best Tool
- Program Compatibility Assistant
- Windows XP Mode
- Application Virtualization
- Understanding the ACT
- Support Topologies
- Compatibility Evaluators
- Planning for the ACT
- Choosing a Deployment Method
- Preparing for the ACT
- Sharing the Log Processing Folder
- Installing the ACT 5.5
- Collecting Compatibility Data
- Analyzing Compatibility Data
- Prioritizing Compatibility Data
- Assessing Application Compatibility
- Managing Compatibility Issues
- Filtering Compatibility Data
- Rationalizing an Application Inventory
- Testing and Mitigating Issues
- Modeling the Production Environment
- Using the Compatibility Administrator
- Deploying Application Mitigation Packages