Utility SpotlightWindows Server Logo Certification

Venkat Krishnamachari

Download the code for this article: Works with Windows Server 2008 (KB)

With Windows Server® 2008 Software Certification, Microsoft is trying to help developers comply with best practices and let IT professionals evaluate applications before purchase, saving time and aggravation. To help customers gauge application compatibility, Microsoft created the "Works with Windows Server 2008" program, which includes free supporting test tools to help ensure an application delivers a predictable experience.

The "Works with" tool gathers data about the application's impact on the OS during its lifecycle by monitoring the state of the file system, registry, services, and drivers. Then the tool analyzes this data and reports specific test-case successes and failures. The "Works with" Test Framework document and additional tools, available at windowsservercatalog.com/ready, provides further details. These tools should help ISVs build in application compatibility while enabling IT pros to evaluate an app's readiness for deployment on Windows Server 2008.

To use these tools, first install the latest version of Windows Server 2008 on a test computer, download the "Works with" tool via windowsservercatalog.com/ready, and make sure you include the Application Verifier tool. The tool's GUI has four simple functions: Create a test pass; Resume an existing test pass; View test results; and Create a submission package (for ISVs seeking "Works with" validation from an authorized test vendor).

Text report showing results

Text report showing results  (Click the image for a larger view)

You create a test pass by walking an application through its lifecycle: installation, configuration, execution, and uninstall. The "Works with" tool primarily runs in the background, verifying OS stability and installer compatibility, and whether features execute properly given the platform's new security requirements and other configurable features. It's generally best to complete the test pass and generate the full report, which usually takes two to four hours. However, you can stop a test pass, generate a quick report, and resume the test later.

When you're finished, you'll have clear red or green status reports on every test case with detailed results, like those shown in the screenshot. Tests reported as green indicate compatibility. For red results, you can review a log file to understand the error condition. Be sure to save locally generated logs to another machine so you can reference them after you wipe your test computer. The "Works with" tool runs on any server application, and it can also evaluate client components and management tools designed for Windows Vista®.

If you're using commercial software, the "Works with" tool can help you plan migration around known compatible applications. You can use test results to query vendors about support plans while saving developers time discovering compatibility issues and prioritizing fixes. For custom apps, you can provide highly specific feedback to your development teams. You can also confirm ongoing compatibility as new patches are released and document application configuration data for your IT department. Some customers have used the tools to document files that system applications touch.

We're interested in your feedback on how we can improve the test cases or the tools to increase usability in your environment. Please drop a line to wslogofb@microsoft.com.

Venkat Krishnamachari has served as the Technical Lead for Windows Server Software Certification since 2005, prior to which he worked on the team that shipped SQL Server 2005.

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