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Supporting Applications on Windows 7

by Jon Arild Tørresdal on May 08, 2009 |

Windows 7 is getting closer to RTM and RC1 was recently made available for download (feature complete). Tim Sneath, director of the Windows and Silverlight technical evangelism team, have recently covered some of the resources available to developers looking to support Windows 7, as well as how to take advantage of the new features available.

For compatibility issues Tim notes:

…with Windows 7, we kept the bar very high indeed for breaking changes. If an application runs on Windows Vista today, there’s a very strong likelihood that the application will run unchanged on Windows 7…

To be 100% sure that applications are compatible with Windows 7 developers can run applications through a Microsoft certification program. Developers that have done this before know that there is quite a few elements that needs be in place for applications to work flawlessly under different operating systems, especially on Vista and Windows 7 with UAC enabled. Tim says that this process is now much simpler:

Applying for a logo for your application has historically been a somewhat painstaking process – it’s involved spending money on submitting the application for manual testing. Now it’s much simpler: we’ve provided an automated toolkit that tests the application for known compatibility issues, targeting application issues that we’ve seen in the wild and providing clear guidance on how to fix your application.

He continues by listing a selection of new features available on Windows 7 that developers should consider supporting:

  • Multi-touch: enabling your application to take advantage of new devices like the HP TouchSmart desktop and notebook that support gestures to zoom, manipulate and control a user interface.
  • Taskbar: adding support for new taskbar features in Windows 7 such as jump lists, progress bars, icon overlays and custom thumbnails.
  • Libraries: taking advantage of the new common file dialogs in Windows 7 that support the library model of virtualized views over multiple physical folders.
  • Sensors and Location: new APIs that enable suitably-equipped machines to report ambient light, user proximity, accelerometers and even geographic location.
  • Direct2D, DirectWrite and Ribbon: replacement libraries for 2D and text rendering as well as the Windows 7 ribbon control that is an evolution of the ribbon in Office 2007.

There are two main kits for developers wanting to take advantage of some of these new features:

  1. Windows SDK
  2. Windows API Code Pack for .NET (interop libraries for .NET)

For the current Code Pack for .NET version (v0.85) the following functionality is available:

  • Support for Windows Shell namespace objects, including the new Windows 7 libraries, Known Folders and non file system containers.
  • Windows Vista and Windows 7 Task Dialogs.
  • Windows 7 Explorer Browser Control supporting both WPF and Windows Forms.
  • Support for Shell property system.
  • Helpers for Windows 7 Taskbar Jumplists, Icon Overlay and Progress bar.
  • Support for Windows Vista and Windows 7 common file dialogs, including custom file dialog controls.
  • Support for Direct3D 11.0 and DXGI 1.0/1.1 APIs.
  • Sensor Platform APIs
  • Extended Linguistic Services APIs

One thing to note is that the Code Pack is only supported on .NET 3.5.

For developers creating drivers for Windows 7 Gavin Gear, Windows Sensor Platform Program Manager, notes:

The Windows 7 RC WDK (v.7.0.0) is available through the Windows Ecosystem Readiness Program and through MSDN Subscriber Downloads. It is also available to developers who are participants in the WDK beta program.

Yochay Kiriaty, Windows 7 Technical Evangelist, have posted a lot of content about the Windows 7 libraries as well as links to a large collection of Windows 7 videos covering the new technologies:

During the past couple of months, we have being working on Windows 7 videos featuring the new technologies in Windows 7. We’ve also created a Windows Topic area on Channel 9 to make it easier for you to find specific Windows 7 content.

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