Windows 7: The compatibility blame game

How Windows 7's rock star status is helping to erode barriers like pesky software incompatibilities to entry in the corporate world

Last week I noted how frustrated I was to discover that VMware ThinApp was completely broken under Windows 7. I opined that perhaps Microsoft was rushing Windows 7 to market, a point of view ostensibly shared by some participants of the technical beta program.

The response from you, the readers, was anything but tepid. Several of you posited the notion that it was up to VMware to ensure that its software works under Windows 7 -- this after labeling me a Microsoft basher for even bringing up the issue in the first place.

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I found this line of reasoning quite curious. Application incompatibility was one of the main reasons so many of you chose to skip Windows Vista (along with its onerous hardware requirements). Yet Windows 7 seems to get a pass in this regard. In fact, the argument seems to be that if something doesn't work with Windows 7, it isn't Microsoft's fault at all. Rather, it's those sloppy software developers and their poor attention to detail.

Never mind that these applications worked just fine under Vista. When it comes to Windows 7, backward compatibility doesn't seem to count. Which is ironic because a seamless transition from Windows Vista has been one of the cornerstones of Microsoft's Windows 7 marketing message. After all, seeing as how Microsoft isn't changing anything major under the hood, there's no reason why a fully Vista-compatible application shouldn’t work under Windows 7.

Except that they don't. At least not all of them, as I discovered when I tried to run the recently released batch of "online browsers" from XenoCode. Like VMware's ThinApp, Code Systems' XenoCode crashes as soon as you try to launch a packaged application.

But, of course, this isn't Microsoft's fault. Those Code Systems folks must have done something "stupid," right? Just like those "morons" at VMware, or those "idiots" at Skype. And don't get me started on that heap of "ineptitude" known as Daemon Tools!

If I look at each of these failures individually, including their corresponding Windows 7 apologist rants, I can easily dismiss them as isolated quirks that will be ironed out before the Windows 7 RTM. However, taken as a whole, this Windows 7 halo phenomenon -- with beta users virulently defending the OS by deflecting blame for any legacy incompatibilities toward the originating software vendors -- reeks of zealotry.

It's as if the entire Windows 7 testing community has been engulfed by some sort of bizarre energy field that distorts reality and makes whatever Microsoft does with the product seem above reproach.

We've seen this sort of mass delusion before: Brainwashed users circling infinitely in a closed loop of denial. Some call them quacks. Others, true believers.

Me? I call them Mac users.

The bottom line: Windows 7 = the Macintosh for the rest of us.

And I've got the zealots to prove it!

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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