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Microsoft still pushing Vista compatibility story

More than 18 months after releasing the operating system, Microsoft finds it necessary to release a tool to figure out whether software and hardware are Vista-ready. Oh yeah, and the tool is broken on Day 1.

Microsoft on Tuesday released a new tool designed to allow customers to see whether their hardware and software will work properly with Windows Vista.

No, this isn't an old article. It is July 2008 and Microsoft still finds it necessary to show customers that plenty of hardware and software works with Vista, which has now been on the market for more than 18 months.

Don't get me wrong, I think the Vista Compatibility Center is a good idea. I just think it's the kind of thing customers want when a new operating system launches. The fact that it is still needed today indicates the challenges that Microsoft continues to face on both the compatibility and marketing fronts with Vista.

Michael Keigley, the Microsoft product manager in charge of the product, concedes that compatibility concerns, both real and perceived, are still important issues for small businesses and consumers as they consider a move to Vista.

"At the launch of Vista, there's no denying we had incompatibilities in the system," he said. A big part of introducing the tool now, though, is clearly in hopes that customers will find that their hardware and software actually is Vista-ready.

However, the online tool is off to a rough start as well. It was supposed to be publicly available in beta form starting this morning. However, those that went to the site on Tuesday morning instead got the message, "The Windows Vista Compatibility Center is currently unavailable. Thank you for your interest, but this site is not available yet. Please check back soon." (See below for screenshots.)

I'll let that speak for itself.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the issue should be resolved later in the day.

When it eventually launches, Microsoft said it will start with about 9,000 products, roughly a third of which are software products and two-thirds of which are hardware devices. About half of the products are those that have undergone testing to be part of Microsoft's Vista-certified logo program.

Here's what Microsoft hoped customers would see at the Vista compatibility center on Tuesday:

Microsoft's Vista Compatibility Center is aimed at showing off just how many products work with the operating system. Microsoft

Here's what they are actually seeing:

As of Tuesday morning, though, the site was broken. A spokesperson said it should be up shortly. CNET News

Update: The site still isn't up, as of 1:50 p.m., but the message has changed to read: "The Windows Vista Compatibility Center will be launching soon, please check back!"