Good news: applications that work in Windows 7 will work just fine in Windows 8, so the research done over the past three years of Windows 7 is not in vain. Bad news? Applications that didn’t work in Windows 7, like apps clinging to Windows XP, won’t work in Windows 8. There’s no magic “Windows 8 Compatibility” button. But there are options.
Since you can’t upgrade a Windows XP system to Windows 8, many application compatibility issues can be avoided with a little planning. Most companies refresh the computer and all their major software at the same time. That XP with Office 2003? Time to become a Windows 8 system with Office 2013. All the data files created in earlier Office versions can be read and used by Windows 8 and Office 2013. That’s the real compatibility issue for most users: their files.
Apps in the Metro tile interface (that’s not the official name anymore, but since Microsoft called Metro for a long time, everyone else still does) must come from the Windows Store. That’s just like getting iPad and iPhone apps from the Apple Store, and Android apps for tablets and smartphones from Google Play. Click the app, download, and use it. No issues there for application compatibility, and you’ll find some cool little tools if you look around.
Microsoft works with all the major software makers, so new updates of those programs will work with Windows 8. That said, if your company doesn’t want to upgrade those programs without testing first, there are a few ways you can help Windows 8 support older applications.
First of all, you can load .NET Framework 3.5. .NET Framework 4.5 comes with the new OS, but you can run .NET Framework 3.5 concurrently to support programs that have yet to be updated.
Increased security in Windows 8 means kernel mode drivers are being examined much more closely by the operating system, and older drives may be rejected. In these cases, go to the software or hardware vendor and get a new version of the driver. If none exists, you may just have to wait.
Some companies still write custom code to leverage some features inside Internet Explorer. The version that ships with Windows 8 is version 10. If your programmers still make the mistake of hard-coding IE versions, get them to change that code and life will be much easier.
Microsoft has reams of research to help companies considering the move to Windows 8. You might want to go check the Windows Compatibility Center and get some ideas. If you believe some under-the-hood tinkering is in your future, check out the Windows Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) and take some proactive steps.
Of course, your vendor will make sure all the software you order with a new computer purchase runs exactly as it should in Windows 8. You can order new systems with software and avoid all worries.
James Gaskin writes books, articles, and jokes about technology, and consults for those who don’t read his books and articles. Email him at email@example.com.