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Windows 7 Testing Must Start ASAP, Microsoft Warns Hardware Makers

Hardware makers that don't comply with the edict won't qualify for Microsoft's Windows Logo certified compatibility program for Windows 7 or Windows Vista.

In an effort to avoid a repeat of the compatibility problems that plagued the launch of its Windows Vista operating system last year, Microsoft has ordered computer and other hardware makers to begin testing their devices on the forthcoming Windows 7 OS as soon as the first beta version becomes available.

Hardware makers that don't comply with the edict won't qualify for Microsoft's Windows Logo certified compatibility program for Windows 7 or Windows Vista. "Beginning with the first beta of Windows 7 all Windows Vista submissions must include a complete CPK with tests logs from Windows 7," Microsoft said in a 61-page bulletin to its hardware partners last week.

CPK refers to a process control method used in software development.

Microsoft has not publicly disclosed when it expects to release a beta version of Windows 7. Given the company's customary timetables, however, it's likely the company will deliver the first Windows 7 beta sometime over the next couple of months. Microsoft has said it hopes to ship a final version of Windows 7 in late 2009 or early 2010.

Microsoft is likely taking the hard line in order to ensure that Windows 7 is compatible with the bulk of major hardware products out of the gate. The company was widely criticized upon Windows Vista's release last year for not doing a better job of ensuring hardware and application compatibility.

More than a year after its release, compatibility problems continue to plague Vista.

PCs from Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, Lenovo, and other major computer makers that contain a widely used Intel chipset can't be upgraded to Windows Vista Service Pack 1 if they're running certain drivers.

The affected chipset is Intel's 945G Express series, which is used in computers from virtually all major system vendors. It's also found on standalone motherboards sold by Asus. The 945G Express chipset driver versions between numbers and won't work with Vista SP1, according to Microsoft.

Chipsets provide a connection point for all key subsystems within a PC.

As a result of those glitches and others, many businesses have said they will delay, or bypass altogether, upgrading their PCs from Windows XP to Windows Vista and will wait for Windows 7.

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