On Friday, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant said it is making tools for consumers available for download from its Windows XP Web site. The 35MB file allows people to check for compatibility with their current hardware and software.
A smooth transition to the new OS for consumers could be vital to the success of the new OS, as well as to the tech sector in general.
As part of that transition, the software giant has been working with hardware and software companies to ensure that Windows XP is compatible with the most popular devices and applications on the market. The company has been conducting tests itself and providing tools to developers to make sure applications can run on the upcoming OS.
Microsoft said it has invested more than $150 million in its compatibility efforts and has more than 600 employees worldwide conducting compatibility tests.
The company plans to support about 12,000 third-party devices and more than 6,500 applications. Microsoft has also created a logo program, Designed for Windows. Companies that pass compatibility tests will be granted the right to display the logo on their products.
Many in the technology industry are counting on Microsoft's new OS to be the shot in the arm that Windows 95 became. PC makers in particular are hoping that the new OS will prompt consumers to purchase new PCs.
But Gartner analyst Martin Reynolds says XP probably won't have much of an impact.
"XP doesn't give users a clear reason to replace their current PCs...It's not as big an advance as Windows 95," Reynolds said. At the same time, he added that "longer term, it will create a word-of-mouth momentum, and that may create interest in a new PC."