What You Need to Know About the Works with Tool for Server 2008

You’re Ready, Are Your Applications?

Rolling out new software is never an easy task.

Today’s software can be complex and dependent upon functions that may or may not work the same in newer versions.

That is why, in most production environments, new software rollouts are carefully planned to include the ability to back out the new version if something should go wrong.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could eliminate some of the uncertainty up front?

Certified for Windows Servers 2008

You know that Microsoft bestows a special Certified for Windows Server 2008 designation on software that meets stringent requirements for compatibility.

What you might not know is that getting that certification is a time consuming process and costs up to $10,000 per product!

So, while you can rest assured that the likes of Adobe will certify their products, what about the other mission critical applications you use that are specific to your business?

A large dental practice uses a product which not only schedules appointments, but also makes sure they are the right length, have the proper spacing, and even makes an automated call the day before an appointment to remind patients.

It’s complex software, and more importantly, it is absolutely critical to making the practice run smoothly. But it’s also a niche product.

The company that makes the software doesn’t sell millions of copies per year; they sell thousands. Will they put the time and money into certifying the product for Windows Server 2008?

If not, how can you be sure that an upgrade won’t cause a problem?

Work with Windows Server

To address exactly this scenario, Microsoft has added a level of compatibility testing for Windows Server 2008.

The Works with Windows Server designation is your assurance that under most circumstances, your software will run just fine on Windows Server 2008.

It is a less comprehensive testing regimen, but according to Microsoft, addresses the vast majority of likely issues with compatibility.

This designation is also much cheaper and easier to obtain than the full scale certified designation. Still, if you have niche software, or software developed in-house, or custom made for your business, what can you do?

innovateon - Works with Tool for Server 2008

On Microsoft’s developer website www.innovateon.com, you can download a tool to check applications for compatibility.

In what is perhaps the most clearly named tool of all-time, Microsoft makes available for download the Works with Tool, which, (can you guess?) helps test to see if your software works with Windows Server 2008.

The tool itself is remarkably easy to use. It is fully wizard based with no difficult customization options. Running the tool is a snap. You can run the tool on an actual Windows Server 2008 machine, or remotely against another server.

Full compatibility testing takes between 2 and 4 hours. When finished, you’ll have a series of log files documenting any issues.

There is one catch to the Works with Tool.

Whether you use all the available components or not, Microsoft won’t give a product even this limited seal of approval without proof that it works with the whole smash, so in order to run the tool you’ll need to have .NET, IIS, Firewall, and IPv6 installed on the testing server.

What’s Broken?

Once you’ve run the tool you’ll need to analyze the generated log file output. The two things that are most likely to be broken are user-level access and using custom ports.

Microsoft’s earlier implementations of security required nearly every application in the world to be run with administrator access even if the user didn’t have that level of access. Microsoft’s own applications ran under this methodology.

Now, this is taboo. Microsoft insists for Windows Servers 2008 that those applications that are run by regular users run with user-level access. So, if the program has been coded for years to run as administrator, it will need to be rewritten in order to gain approval.

The second common glitch is using custom ports for applications that use network access.

Because, Server 2008 ships with Microsoft’s firewall software enabled by default, applications are required to work with only the ports open by default in the firewall. If the application uses port 28832 for some reason, then welcome to Busted City.

But Will My Application Work?

Keep in mind that the Works with Tool only tests software’s compatibility with the Server 2008 operating system. It does not test its functionality.

More importantly, it doesn’t necessarily test all the dependencies of the application. If the application was developed using a library or API that no longer functions the same (or maybe doesn’t exist at all), there is a good possibility that the application will not function properly.

However, the Microsoft testing tool isn’t going to be entering test queries into your SQL databases to see how it functions.

The Works with Tool provides a great way to test basic functionality of applications that aren’t certified by Windows. You’ll still need a solid test environment to check out everything, but at least you’ve got one less thing to worry about.

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