Software developers will have to comply with a host of new technical guidelines before they can paste a Windows 95 or Windows NT logo on their boxes.
Developers must get permission from Microsoft before shipping a software box with the "Designed for Windows NT and 95" logo on it. Microsoft uses this process to compel software developers to comply with certain protocols and designs that may not actually be neccessary for an application to run but are part of Microsoft's overall agenda.
The new criteria are specifically tied to upcoming versions of Windows 95, code-named Memphis, and Windows NT 5.0. Developers who want the new logo on their products will have to comply with Microsoft's Zero Administration Initiative specifications, which the company says will make networked Windows boxes easier to manage and update, and faster to boot.
Previous attempts to alter the Windows logo program have ruffled feathers among developers, and it's no sure thing that having a "Designed for Windows" logo on the box entices customers.
Industry research firm Computer Intelligence published a survey in January that cast doubts on the logo program's efficacy. Of 216 resellers surveyed, 71 percent said that the logo was either moderately important or not important at all as a reason to buy.
"We still believe that the Windows flag is important in the retail channel, but people may or may not make a purchase decision based on it," said Solveig Whittle, product manager in Microsoft's personal and business systems division. She added that corporate customers are much more likely to look for the logo and testing program before buying what often amounts to thousands of copies of an application.
For the time being, these guidelines are just recommendations. But they will become requirements when the new versions of the operating systems actually ship, and the company says developers are well advised to follow them.
"The rule of thumb is that if it's not in the operating system today, we can't make it a requirement," Whittle said. "Any recommendation is out there so people can start developing, but in six to eight months those recommendations will most likely turn into requirements."
Memphis is due to enter beta testing within a month and ship by year's end. NT 5.0 will go into beta by midyear and will ship in 1998, according to Microsoft.
The new logo guidelines suggest that:
The guidelines also require some design changes that are not tied directly to the new operating systems: