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Yes, Microsoft is going to certify products as Windows 7 compatible. The Windows 7 version of the Windows operating system has new features and offers a number of new capabilities, and so devices which are Windows Vista certified are not automatically going to receive Windows 7 certification. Products marked with the Certification for Windows Vista should work on a Window 7 system, because Windows 7 is engineered to be compatible with Windows Vista.
Windows 7 has its own logo for certification, which is distinctive from the Windows Vista
certification logo. However, products marked with Compatible with Windows 7 are able to take advantage of new features in the Windows 7 operating system. Microsoft has created a web page for the Windows 7 Compatibility Center Home, but the Windows 7 Compatibility Center is not established yet. Microsoft says it will be launched with Windows 7's release, currently scheduled for October 22, 2009.
For those manufacturers who want to have the Compatible with Windows 7 logo, Microsoft has provided information and tools for the process.
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The Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit will test your application for compatibility with Window 7 RC.
It is supported for Windows 2000 Service Pack 4; Windows 7; Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1; Windows Vista; Windows XP Service Pack 3, and supports database components from Microsoft® SQL Server 2005, Microsoft® SQL Server 2005 Express Edition. To run it you need Microsoft® .NET Framework, version 2.0.
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For hardware manufacturers, Microsoft has the Windows Ecosystem Readiness Program. To use their program, you must first be registered. They say:
Get ready for Windows 7. On the Windows Ecosystem area of Microsoft Connect (registration required), you can download Windows 7 RC, the updated Windows Logo Kit (WLK), the Windows Driver Kit (WDK), the Software Development Kit (SDK), white papers, and checked builds and symbols for debugging to help you test and verify compatibility.
The Windows Logo Kit (WLK) and the Windows Driver Kit (WDK) are available from the Microsoft Connect site. WLK 1.4 is the most current version, and is to be used for testing for Compatible with Windows 7 products. Microsoft offers the advisory that products should be tested with both the 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Windows 7 RC, and that they estimate that at least half of Windows 7 customers will be running the 64 bit version.
On Microsoft's web page WDK and Developer Tools Overview are tabs to get downloads or additional information on Debugging tools for Windows, Testing tools for drivers, Downloads for Kits and tools, and Support for kits and tools.
On the Windows Logo Program: Overview, you can download specific information about the Windows Logo Plan for different types of devices.
When you are satisfied you have met the requirements and tests for your drivers and device, you can fill out the Product Submission form for the Windows 7 Compatibility Center. There are certain other criteria you have to meet as well. Questions on the process should go to email@example.com.
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Customers trying Windows 7 RC
For customers, Microsoft is encouraging feedback about device compatibility with the Windows 7 RC through the Windows Vista Compatibility Center feedback page, on the 'Report a compatibility issue' tab. Because Windows 7 is engineered to work with Certified for Vista Products, letting Microsoft know of bugs or problems you encounter while trying out the release candidate will help Microsoft take care of compatibility issues before the operating system is released.
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Additional features in Windows 7
For additional information on features of Windows 7, please see the following articles:
Five Differences Between Vista And Windows 7