The thing that is probably holding most people back from upgrading to Windows Vista is that they’re unsure if many programs will work. In the past I have always just used the list that users put together over at IeXBeta. It is pretty comprehensive, and best of all is that people are pretty good about adding notes to applications that don’t completely work with Vista so that you know what to expect if you decide to install it anyways.

Microsoft must have seen some value in such a list because they have created their own, labeling software as either “Certified for Windows Vista” or “Works with Windows Vista.” Here is the difference between the two labels:

The “Certified for Windows Vista” logo is a compatibility designation for applications and devices that have passed a rigorous testing program on computers that are running Windows Vista. The technical requirements for this designation target four core areas: reliability, security, compatibility with Windows Vista and future operating systems, and installation and removal.

The “Works with Windows Vista” logo is a compatibility designation that is designed to encourage Windows Vista compatibility for the current generation of Windows-based applications. To receive this designation, software companies test their applications to make sure that the applications meet the program’s guidelines.

The list of “Certified for Windows Vista” applications is a lot smaller than the other one because the requirements are a lot more strict. For example, Microsoft Office 2007 is on the “Certified for” list while Office 2003 is just on the “Works with” list. Most of the programs on the “Certified for” list appear to be ones that have taken extra strides and provided updates to their applications to make them work great with Vista.

vista compatibility

One thing that was a little disappointing in the list was that Trend Micro has the only antivirus solution that is “Certified for Windows Vista.” Personally, I use Avast with Vista and it runs very smoothly. The requirements to be certified must be a bit strict or require a lot of work that most developers don’t want to go through.

One thing that Microsoft’s list doesn’t seem to cover that the IeXBeta does is a list of programs that are known not to work. Microsoft definitely has this information available because Vista will prompt you when you are installing a program that has known compatibility issues, but the information is not readily available to users.

I remember back when Windows XP was initially released, it seemed like it took forever for compatible software to become available. Vista is already off to a better start than XP was so I definitely give Microsoft credit for getting the word out about Vista early on to developers who then had time to prepare for the release. The next few months will probably be the birth of a lot of new software, and some of it will hopefully take advantage of Vista’s new graphical features.