Windows 8 : Managing traditional desktop applications (part 2) - Controlling program settings for traditional applications

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Managing compatibility with Application Compatibility Toolkit and App-V

Some of the applications that existed before Windows 8 might experience general compatibility issues with the new operating system. Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) helps resolve these issues and provides a better working experience for these applications in Windows 8.

Testing for application compatibility

Microsoft has made several changes in Windows 8 that can affect the operation of applications and software that companies are using today. To help mitigate the problems with application compatibility, ACT has been updated to help test for compatibility issues that might appear for some applications.

Virtualizing incompatible applications

When Windows 7 was released, Microsoft unveiled App-V, a technology that enables individual applications to be virtualized and used within different Windows environments. When an application is configured to run as an App-V application, the operating environment for that application is captured in a virtual machine. This allows all the settings and application configuration information to remain intact so the newly virtualized copy of the application can run on systems within which it might not have originally worked.

For example, suppose an organization uses an old reporting application as part of the financial reporting that it produces on a monthly basis. The application has not been updated for several years because things have been operating smoothly. Janet, the finance manager and primary report creator for the organization, gets a new computer that runs Windows 8, and is unable to access the reporting program she uses on a regular basis. Rather than deploy a previous version of Windows to accommodate the single application that does not function in Windows 8, App-V can virtualize the reporting program so that it can be used in Windows 8.

In addition to enabling earlier applications to function on newer computers, App-V can be used to configure an application and all its settings to run inside a virtual environment and require no installation on the client computers. This helps reduce the maintenance and overhead needed to use applications within an environment.

Controlling program settings for traditional applications

When an application is installed on a Windows 8–based computer, some adjustments might need to be made in the way Windows interacts with the application. Although these adjustments do not affect the general operation of the application, modifying the interaction produces a seamless experience and makes the application more pleasing to use.

Modifying the compatibility settings for an application can help it operate better with Windows 8. There are two ways to modify compatibility settings for an application:

  • Using the Program Compatibility troubleshooter

  • Manually adjusting compatibility settings

Using the Program Compatibility troubleshooter

To run the Program Compatibility troubleshooter for an application, complete the following steps.

  1. On the Start screen, search for Program Compatibility. Tap or click Settings.

  2. Select Run Programs Made For Previous Versions Of Windows.

  3. Tap or click Next to begin the troubleshooter.

  4. If Windows detects no problems, enter the location of the program against which to run the troubleshooter and tap or click Next.

  5. After the application has gone through the troubleshooter, select from the following options:

    • Try Recommended Settings This option applies known settings such as the service pack compatibility level for the application.

    • Troubleshoot The Application Based On Problems Noticed This option presents symptoms that might indicate the cause of the problem and prompts you to select one.

  6. If you select to troubleshoot the application, choose one of the following:

    • The Program Worked In Earlier Versions Of Windows But Won’t Install Or Run Now.

    • The Program Opens But Doesn’t Display Correctly.

    • The Program Requires Additional Permissions.

    • I Don’t See My Problem Listed.

  7. Depending on the option selected, the questions change to help you work toward a solution.

  8. When a solution is ready to test, select Test Program.

  9. If the application opens and displays or operates as expected, tap or click Finish.

Manually troubleshooting compatibility

To set the compatibility options for an application manually, complete the following steps:

  1. Press and hold or right-click the application.

  2. Tap or click Properties.

  3. Tap or click the Compatibility tab.

  4. To run the application in compatibility mode for a previous version of Windows, select Run This Program In Compatibility Mode For and choose the appropriate level:

    • Windows 95

    • Windows 98/Me

    • Windows XP (Service Pack 2)

    • Windows XP (Service Pack 3)

    • Windows Vista

    • Windows Vista (Service Pack 1)

    • Windows Vista (Service Pack 2)

    • Windows 7

  5. To run the application with a different color profile, select Reduced Color Mode and choose a setting:

    • 8-bit (256 Color)

    • 16-bit (65536 Color)

  6. To run the application with a minimal resolution, select Run In 640x480 Screen Resolution.

  7. To run the application without high DPI scaling, select Disable Display Scaling On High DPI Settings.

  8. To change the privilege level for this application, select Run This Program As An Administrator.

  9. If the settings should be applied for anyone who signs in to this computer to use this application, select the Change Settings For All Users button.

    With this selection, the Properties dialog box opens for each user, and the options must be selected again.

  10. Tap or click OK in the Compatibility For All Users dialog box if it is open.

  11. Tap or click OK in the Properties dialog box for the application to save modifications to the compatibility settings.

Using the troubleshooter with an application: An example

Jennifer calls the help desk because her new computer will not run the screen capture application she was using on her previous computer. To assist Jennifer, the technician walks her through the troubleshooter for the application, first selecting the screen capture application within the troubleshooter and then selecting Troubleshoot Program in the Troubleshooting Options dialog box.

When the wizard asks what problem was noticed, the technician asks Jennifer to help choose the problem that is occurring. Because the application ran well on Windows 7, Jennifer selects “The program worked in earlier versions of Windows but won’t install or run now” and taps Next. When the wizard prompts for the version of Windows in which the application worked correctly, Jennifer selects Windows 7 and taps Next. This places the program in compatibility mode for Windows 7. Jennifer selects the option to test the program.

After the program starts, the technician can tap or click Next to complete the troubleshooter. On the final screen of the troubleshooter, the technician can select from the following options:

  • Yes, Save These Settings For This Program This option keeps the changed settings for subsequent launches.

  • No, Try Again Using Different Settings This option reverses the changes and allows other settings to be selected.

  • No, Report The Problem To Microsoft And Check Online For A Solution This option sends information about the problem to Microsoft for evaluation and troubleshooting and queries the Internet for possible solutions.

When the technician selects an option, the troubleshooter prepares a report of its findings and provides an opportunity for Jennifer or the technician to explore further options as needed. Either the technician or Jennifer can exit the troubleshooter by tapping or clicking Close.

Configuring default programs and file associations

Sometimes working with an application to access a file or type of document should happen just by double-clicking or double-tapping the file or document. When multiple programs can open the same file type—for example, WordPad and Microsoft Word—Windows can become confused about which application should be used to open a file by default. In addition, when other applications are installed that can open a particular type of file, the new programs can set themselves as the default application to use.

To change the default program used to open a file, complete the following steps:

  1. On the Start screen, search for Default Programs.

  2. Tap or click Default Programs.

  3. Select a program from the list of programs on the left side of the screen.

  4. Review the details for the selected program.

  5. Select Set This Program As Default to configure this program as the default program for opening all file types and protocols it supports.

  6. Tap or click OK to save these settings.

To change the file association for a file type, complete the following steps:

  1. On the Start screen, search for File Associations.

  2. Tap or click Settings.

  3. Tap or click Change The File Type Associated With A File Extension.

  4. On the Set Associations page, select a file extension to associate with an application.

  5. Tap or click Change Program.

  6. Select More Options to see other programs that can open the selected file type.

  7. Tap or click the program that should be used for this file type from the list.

  8. Tap or click Close.

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