Why I won’t be bothering with the Windows 7 logo program

not compatible with Windows 7Am I the only one being totally bombarded with ‘Give your application the green light’ and related emails from Microsoft and its minions? I must have had at least 30 so far. I took a few minutes to list my product in the Windows 7 compatibility guide (beware, cheesy audio). But that is all I intend to do.

I went to the trouble of getting the ‘works with Vista’ logo in 2007. The process was very broken:

  • The winqual and Partner websites give me “certified by unknown authority” warnings.
  • The Winqual website didn’t work at all in FireFox.
  • There was a complete lack of clear guidance about what you needed to do next at each stage.
  • The documentation was very poor, with broken links and much of it completely out of date (i.e. “more information will be available in 2006″, this was 2007).
  • It took me about an hour of rummaging around on the winqual site and an email to tech support to work out that you can ‘sign’ the legal documents online (you have to tick a permissions checkbox on a separate page and do a few refreshes).
  • You had to download a signing tool. It was in a zip file with a password. They didn’t tell you what the password was! Luckily I already had signcode.exe installed.

It was easily the most frustrating thing I have done in my career as a microISV. For that I ended up with an ugly ‘works with Vista’ logo (that probably just made customers think my software didn’t work on Windows XP), an entry in Windows marketplace (I already had one) and a Verisign authenticode certificate that I wasn’t allowed to use to sign my software.

Hopefully Microsoft have cleaned up their broken logo process since the Vista launch. But the benefits of the Windows 7 logo program seem slim:

  • a “Compatible with Windows 7″ logo (prettier than the ghastly “works with Vista” logo admittedly)
  • 30 Partner Points for use in the Microsoft Partner Program (I have no idea what I would want those for)
  • some PR templates (when did having a near identical press release to thousands of other companies become a benefit?)
  • priority Listing in the “Windows 7 Compatibility Center” (I doubt any of my customers know or care about this)
  • Windows built-in error reporting (I rolled my own, thanks)

Worst of all I would have to buy another overpriced Verisign certificate to authenticate myself to Microsoft winqual, even though I already have a perfectly valid authenticode certificate from Comodo.

I think I’ll pass.

15 thoughts on “Why I won’t be bothering with the Windows 7 logo program

  1. Louis Kessler

    Question: Do you feel that the Windows Vista program was of any benefit at all?

    I’m interested because I had felt it would be valuable and had a very similar experience in frustration as you in trying to get the certification. (See: http://www.beholdgenealogy.com/blog/?p=532 )

    I was very much considering going for the Windows 7 logo program and have the same concerns you express. You’ve now got me questioning the whole thing again and I’m going to have to rethink it all.

  2. Andy Brice Post author

    >Do you feel that the Windows Vista program was of any benefit at all?

    Not that I am aware of.

    If I was selling a more mainstream Windows product and had some minions to do the leg work, then the cost benefit balance might possibly be different.

  3. Scott K.

    I agree. I really can’t imagine any customer caring if you have some “Compatible with Windows 7″ logo.
    If you tell them it works (without the logo) I think they’ll believe you.

  4. Chuck Brooks

    We stopped wasting time with MS certifications after the problems Andy pointed out, but with the Win2K effort. Interestingly, the earlier WinNT process wasn’t too bad, but it must have been too simple for the bright lights in Redmond. Plus, there was no way to really know if having a Windows certification helped to make any sale. I suspect that most of our customers wouldn’t care if they were made of wet sphagetti so long as they work. Today more and more of our offerings are hosted services, where MS certification is meaningless.

  5. Dennis G.

    > 30 Partner Points for use in the Microsoft Partner Program (I have no idea what I would want those for)

    We never bothered with any MS logo programs, but I believe it’s useful if you want to become a Certified Partner, which in turn can save you a ton of money for developer and production licenses when you have a larger team (IIRC, you need 50 partner points for this).

  6. Ryan

    I’ve just published this where I talk about getting the Microsoft Certified Partner status via the ISV competency route

    http://blog.ryanwheeler.co.uk/2009/10/partnering-with-microsoft/

    Part of that process was to get an app certified for Windows Server 2008. To get all the ‘benefits’ you’ve got to submit EXACTLY the same test twice. But between Juy and Dec you’ve got to do one test on 2008 and the other on 2008 R2 (aka Windows 7 server). Why?

    All in all I get the feeling that the Partner and Certification process is so convoluted, obtuse and downright broken that no one from Microsoft has ever sat down and gone through the process end to end as a ‘partner’ would have to.

  7. Andy Brice Post author

    >All in all I get the feeling that the Partner and Certification process is so convoluted, obtuse and downright broken that no one from Microsoft has ever sat down and gone through the process end to end as a ‘partner’ would have to.

    I have challenged MS Evangalist Patrick Foley to do exactly that:
    http://startuppodcast.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/show-25-andy-brice-and-perfecttableplan/
    And Michael Lehman before him. I don’t know if it ever went anywhere – I was sufficiently frustrated by the whole experience I am unlikely to try it again any time soon.

    It’s weird because MS seems to be putting a lot of effort into helping developers in other ways (e.g. Empower and BizSpark).

  8. Louis Kessler

    Wow. I didn’t realize that everyone was having these problems with the certification process. At least it’s good to know I’m not alone.

    The other thing that really bothers me is right now, my program is considered a “legacy” program by Vista/7 and Vista/7 will let it break the rules so that it will work. But if I add that manifest, then all of a sudden, the Microsoft police are at work and every rule, no matter how small, has to be obeyed or the program won’t be allowed to run.

  9. Ben

    For us, the main benefit is Partner points (we get all kinds of nice benefits from being a MS certified / gold partner). It’s also a way to distinguish us from the competition and show our users that we are keeping pace with new OSs (which in our space — property management software — is a common problem … many apps are 5-10 years old and some still run in DOS).

    Considering the time it took me to go through the logo verification process (a few hours), I think it is a benefit. Win 7 was far easier than Vista, which I agree was a total PITA and clearly disorganized. Ironically, we attempted to get our app certified under Vista back in 2007 (which requires third party testing), and it failed because SQL Express 2005 wasn’t certified under Vista at the time! Pretty lame.

    Getting our Partner status was also trying, but worth it. That probably took a few days, with some frustration trying to figure out how to earn points (which is an ongoing process).

    If you are a startup — then BizSpark seems to be the way to go, since it only $100 and seems pretty hassle-free. As for logo certification (or any other certification), seems to me that some businesses will benefit more than others. If you are a niche app, it probably doesn’t matter, but if have lots of competition, it’s an easy way to get more recognition.

  10. SF

    Outside of fortune 5000 and maybe gov/institutional/etc I’ve never heard of anybody making any decision based on XP, Vista, Server certification, so I won’t be going there anyways.

    But an alternative graphic indicating Vista and/or Win 7 compatibility would be nice.

  11. Pingback: Why I have bothered with the Windows 7 logo program- The Recursive ISV

  12. Pingback: Why I have bothered with the Windows 7 logo program

Comments are closed.