In planning the move to Windows 7, Application Compatibility should be a top priority. The key technology that Microsoft provides for this is the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT). Now in version 5.5, ACT has been around for some time, and it is designed to help identify and mitigate potential issues with application portfolios. ACT works by taking an inventory of your existing applications and analyzing them to determine if they will be compatible with Windows 7. Once the applications have been analyzed, there are a few different approaches for mitigation. One is to use the ACT shims to get the applications to run. Another option is to utilize Windows XP Mode on Windows 7. This should make the transition to Windows 7 much easier for most organizations, as well as prevent downtime for your end users.
As we have discussed in the past, enforcing least privilege is a critical part of your security posture, and the move to Windows 7 presents organizations with an opportunity to finally move to the least privilege model. While the Application Compatibility Toolkit has the ability to identify Windows 7 Application Compatiblity problems, it does not identify Least Privilege Application Compatibility. Not only do organizations want to know what applications are compatible with Windows 7, but they also want to know what apps will not run properly when a user is not an administrator.
For more information on ACT, take a look at the Microsoft Springboard Series videos, they are an excellent resource for making the transition to Windows 7. Click here for a whitepaper on Win 7 Migration and Least Privilege.