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Microsoft has made much of how software and hardware written for Windows Vista will work with Windows 7. And that would he great - if Windows Vista hadn't been such a monumental flop and the majority of Windows applications today weren't still tuned for Windows XP.

The good news is that Microsoft is piloting a service for troubleshooting problems when you make the leap to Windows 7. But there's a catch: You need a decent expenses account.

The pilot program is part of Microsoft's Advisory Services space, and it will provide developers and IT professionals with phone-based support for issues such as product migration, code review, or new program development.

The program is not for standard break-fix issues, and it targets those moving to Windows 7 or even Windows Vista - underscoring the closeness in architecture between the two.

A posting on Microsoft's TechNet site said: "We'll start off with some basic scoping questions such as whether the application is 16-, 32-, or 64-bit. Is it a client-server application? What compatibility issues are you experiencing? Slow Performance? Hang or Crash? Installation problems? The support engineers will be using tools such as the Application Compatibility Toolkit, the the [sic] Standard User Analyzer Wizard, and the Setup Analysis Tool."

All this comes at a price: Microsoft's advisory service has an hourly rate of $210, and it can only be used for up to 20 hours - or $4,200 in total billable hours. Also, the service is restricted to the US and Canada, and you need to scope out the engagement and sign contract with Microsoft before the company begins work.

More details can be found on this and Microsoft's Application Compatibility Toolkit and Setup Analysis Tool in Redmond Channel Partner Online, here. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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