Several months ago I told you that the Windows 95 logo does not guarantee that an application will run on Windows NT Workstation. To fix this problem, Microsoft is retiring the Windows 95 logo by the end of 1996 and replacing it with a new "Designed for Windows NT and Windows 95" logo. To obtain the logo, software vendors must submit their application to VeriTest, a third-party testing company that will check for basic compatibility (e.g., install, uninstall, printing) on both NT Workstation and Win95. The complete logo specifications are available at www.veritest.com/nt95page.htm#overview.
By phasing out the Windows 95 logo, Microsoft will motivate a new set of software vendors to support NT Workstation by the end of this year. Vendors who rely on retail distribution will have to take NT seriously. A logo quickly shows potential customers that an application is compatible with Win95 and NT. The logo tells customers that on the other end of a technical support call, they can get someone who will have a basic understanding of NT--which you can't count on today.
So what makes us think Microsoft will get the NT requirement right this time? The Win95 logo also required compatibility with NT but allowed too many exceptions and loopholes. Last time, Microsoft seemed to emphasize the quantity of applications to receive the logo and relaxed the NT requirements. This time, Microsoft claims the NT requirements are tougher and the exceptions are few. Telephony API (TAPI), DirectX, a similar GUI, and so on have filled development gaps between Win95 and NT. However, many differences remain between the NT and Win95 APIs and dynamic link libraries (DLLs) listed in the new logo specifications. Rather than risk quality by relaxing the NT compatibility requirements, Microsoft must extend the 1996 deadline for vendors.
Just in case history repeats itself, Windows NT Magazine will start a new department, "The NT Penalty Box," later this year. We'll throw any application that bears the new logo and doesn't work on NT into this penalty box, which will appear in the magazine and on our Web site. When the application works on NT, the penalty will be over. You can help us by sending your nominees by email to [email protected] This time, no exceptions.
What about vendors who never considered Win95 for their product? Microsoft's Softimage 3D modeling package comes to mind. It requires a powerful NT-based system (Pentium Pro with 64MB of RAM) and an OpenGL-certified graphic card. This product will have to go without a logo because it will never run on Win95. Microsoft has no plans to create a separate Windows NT logo, so the only independent, third-party verification of compatibility will be from reviews such as those from Windows NT Magazine.
The new logo will bring new NT applications and support. But be wary of new guarantees.