Microsoft Corp. outlined several new opportunities for partners to take advantage of the software and hardware being developed for the Windows Vista platform. Specifically, the company announced a number of partner initiatives, programs and tools that will help the industry get ready for the arrival of Windows Vista and encourage partners to continue to build innovative, connected hardware and software solutions for the new operating system.

As part of his keynote speech at this year’s conference, Will Poole, senior vice president of the Market Expansion Group within the Platforms and Services Division at Microsoft, announced a Certified for Windows Vista logo program, which is designed to make it easier for customers to recognize products that deliver optimized experiences with Windows Vista. To encourage the industry to continue to build products that provide better networking experiences for customers, Poole also discussed the integration of Microsoft Windows Rally, a new networking standard, and the Windows Network Projector standard to enable effortless setup and better connectivity for Windows Vista-networked projectors.

“The Certified for Windows Vista logo program is a call to action across the software, device and component industry to help ensure our mutual customers have a great experience when using the latest software and hardware with Windows Vista,” Poole said. “In addition to informing our customers during their purchasing decision, the Certified for Windows Vista logo will provide a quality label that enables our partners to differentiate their offerings from others in the market.”

Microsoft expects the program to improve customer experiences by providing a uniform minimum-quality bar for all certified products. Software qualified to use the Certified for Windows Vista logo will be tested for Windows Vista security, reliability and compatibility standards, as well as ease of installation and uninstallation. Certified for Windows Vista components and devices will undergo testing that will be validated by Microsoft’s Windows Hardware Quality Lab. Details on the requirements and testing processes for both programs can be found at the new Certified for Windows Vista logo program site, The logos will begin appearing on certified software and devices later this year.

“We’re proud to be working closely with Microsoft on the Certified for Windows Vista program to ensure ATI’s top-to-bottom line of graphics processors deliver an outstanding Windows Vista end-user experience,” said Ben Bar-Haim, vice president of the Software Engineering Division at ATI Technologies Inc. “We expect the program to make the purchasing experience easier and give users confidence in knowing that when they select systems with ATI graphics under the program, their visual experience in Windows Vista will be of a consistent high quality.”

In addition to the Certified for Windows Vista logo, the logo program will also include a “Works with Windows Vista” designation for software and devices that are compatible with Windows Vista. Software and devices with the “Works with Windows Vista” logo have achieved basic compatibility with Windows Vista, while Certified products indicate a higher standard of performance and compatibility. The requirements for the program have been developed and substantially revised based on feedback that Microsoft received from its hardware and software partners throughout the development of Windows Vista. While the program is still in its early phases of rollout, over a dozen software and hardware partners have committed to joining the program to develop and design products in line with Windows Vista logo specifications. Participants include industry-leading software companies such as Nero Inc. and Lawson Software Inc. and innovative PC and device/component manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics and NIVIDIA Corp., among others.

Windows Rally Will Improve Connectivity of Network-Connected Devices.

In addition to helping customers overcome the complexity of choosing compatible products for Windows Vista, Microsoft is working with the industry to ease the setup process and overall end-user experience. To help solve the complexity of device and network setup, Windows Rally, a new set of networking technologies and best practices, will help make it easier for hardware manufacturers to build devices that deliver effortless setup and more secure and manageable connectivity along with other rich user experiences.

Windows Vista Provides Native Support for Networked Projectors.

In his keynote address, Poole demonstrated how Microsoft has incorporated a built-in network projection capability in Windows Vista for compatible network projectors, called the Windows Network Projector standard. By integrating this functionality into Windows Vista and Windows CE for embedded devices, Microsoft is assisting projector manufacturers and enabling them to quickly bring Windows-compatible network projectors to market. The new standard also enables network projectors to be automatically discovered and wirelessly connected to projectors within a network. With Windows Vista, connecting to a network projector will now be as ubiquitous as using a printer.

“The projector as a business tool is becoming increasingly visible in today’s business environment as more information is being shared during presentations using mobile computers,” said Mr. Masayuki Maeda, general manager of 1st Sales & Marketing Promotion Division at NEC Viewtechnology Ltd. “To make the networking process simple for our customers, we’re designing our future models to work with the new sophisticated software included in the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system.”

Windows Vista Application Compatibility Toolkit Available Today

In addition to the standards and programs announced today, concurrent with Windows Vista beta 2, Poole announced the availability of the Windows Vista Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) 5.0 beta, aimed at assisting IT professionals in discovering the compatibility of applications and managing their application portfolio to get ready for the arrival of Windows Vista.

With the ACT 5.0, Microsoft is aligning the availability of application compatibility tools with the release schedule of the new operating system, for the first time in the history of Windows releases. This alignment will help Microsoft partners and customers start early deployment and migration planning. To learn more about the ACT 5.0, developers and IT professionals should visit mspx .