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Key changes since Windows 7 to ensure compatibility

Last Updated: 1/11/2017

We understand that compatibility matters to developers. ISVs and developers want to ensure their apps will run as expected on all supported versions of the Windows OS. Consumers and businesses have a key investment here—they want to ensure that the apps they have paid for will continue to work. We know that compatibility is the primary criteria for purchase decisions. Apps that are well written based on best practices will lead to much less code churn when a new Windows version is released, and will reduce fragmentation—these apps have a reduced engineering investment to maintain, and a faster time to market.

In the Windows 7 timeframe, compatibility was very much a reactive approach. In Windows 8, we started looking at this differently, working within Windows to ensure that compatibility was by design rather than an afterthought. Windows 10 is the most compatible-by-design version of the OS to date. Here are some key ways we accomplished this:

  • App telemetry: this helps us understand app popularity in the Windows ecosystem to inform compatibility testing.
  • ISV partnerships: work directly with external partners to provide them with data and help fix issues that our users experience.
  • Design reviews, upstream detection: partner with feature teams to reduce the number of breaking changes in Windows. Compatibility review is a gate that our feature teams must pass.
  • Tighter control over API changes & improved communication
  • Flighting and feedback loop: The Windows Insider population receives flighted builds that help improve our ability to find compatibility issues before a final build is released to customers. This feedback process not only exposes bugs, but ensures we are shipping features our users want.
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