Security software is among the most problematic when it comes down to compatibility with the latest releases of Windows. Such solutions traditionally need low-level hooks into the operating system in order to deliver protection to end users, and it is this intimate kernel connection that causes incompatibility issues when the platform version is bumped up a notch. But even some of the products that are reporting incompatibility problems with the next iteration of Windows can still work to protect the end user, Microsoft explains.
Some compatibility problems are generated by the evolution of the application programming interfaces from Windows Vista to Windows 7. In fact, the Redmond company has scrapped older APIs from the Release Candidate of Windows 7, and has been working with security companies through the partner outreach and the Ecosystem Readiness Program since October of 2007 to ensure a smooth transition to the new API set.
“We have removed the old API from the Windows 7 RC. Users who are running security software that does not use the newer API will see the "non-compatible" message shown below from the new Action Center, which instructs customers to contact their security software provider,” explained Microsoft's Paul Cooke. “Although you may receive this "non-compatible" message from your security software, it should continue to work and help protect your system even though it is not able to report its status through the Action Center UI.”
Originally, the new APIs were debuted in Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista, replacing the previous version in the RTM of the operating system. Independent software vendors were subsequently granted no less than 18 months after the release of Vista SP1 as a grace period to use both old and new APIs. The expiration deadline for the older application programming interfaces comes in mid-2009.
“After the 18 month grace period expires, a security application using the older interface will cause the Windows Security Center system tray icon to indicate a warning. In addition, the Security Center control panel will display a "<program name> is on but is reporting its status to Windows Security Center in a format that is no longer supported. Use the program's automatic updating feature, or contact the program manufacturer for an updated version" warning message, a sample screen shot is included below. The grace period begins at the time Vista SP1 is installed on a Windows Vista system. As a result, the grace period will begin expiring in September 2009,” Cooke added.