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Microsoft ACT 5.6 Supports 64-Bit Windows 7

Microsoft last week stepped up its ACT, releasing the latest version of a free tool that checks the compatibility of applications with Windows 7.

The new Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) 5.6 for IT professionals is most notable for adding the ability to check app compatibility with 64-bit Windows 7. The tool's "data collection packages" can now run on 64-bit systems. In addition for those IT shops that run a mix of 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7, this latest version of ACT enables separate assessments for each system.

ACT 5.6 isn't just a passive inventory engine. It analyses software updates too, as well as hardware, and it helps with some mitigations, according to Microsoft's announcement. The tool is currently available at the Microsoft Download Center here.

IT pros faced with fixing an application compatibility issue that can't be patched can learn how to apply a shim. The tool contains a tutorial and a demo for the purpose.

The tool's "compatibility administrator" now has the ability to "shim 64-bit and MSIL-compiled applications," according to Microsoft. Shimming interacts with an API to change its parameters or redirect the operation, according to Wikipedia's definition of a shim. Microsoft supplies a full description of the shimming process as it relates to Windows at this TechCenter library page.

Users of ACT 5.6 can now vote with other users on just how compatible applications really are with Windows 7. The new version of the tool includes a "sliding bar" that indicates community assessment of app compatibility. Microsoft maintains a Web service with updates from independent software vendors on compatibility with Windows 7. Users can synchronize with this Web service, which is updated every two weeks.

For this release of ACT, Microsoft removed the No. 1 complaint users had with the earlier ACT 5.5 -- namely, a reference to the release candidate (RC) version of Windows 7. Even though ACT 5.5 supported the current release-to-manufacturing version of Windows 7, Microsoft had "technical issues" that prevented removing the letters "RC" in ACT 5.5, causing confusion among users. Now, with this new version, those RC letters are gone from the application manager, Microsoft explained.

For those just wanting a list of applications compatible with Windows 7, Microsoft provides it in Excel format at the Microsoft Download Center here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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