Ready, Get Set, Get Certified
Microsoft Corp. has nailed down the final details for getting applications in tune for use on the Windows 2000 platform. Partnering with VeriTest Inc. (www.veritest.com) and Rational Software Corp. (www.rational.com), the target is set for developers to take aim at receiving a fancy little package logo that declares "Certified for Windows 2000."
From product managers to software designers, the Redmond camp has been sending the word out that this logo program isn't like the ones of the past. The road to certification is tougher, and developers should prepare themselves for a heavy testing process. Craig Beilinson, lead product manager for Windows 2000 at Microsoft, says the company is trying to change the way ISVs test applications.
"The process that took place was build an application and send it to test for a few hundred dollars," Beilinson explains. "If it didn't pass, I didn't get a whole lot of feedback but I'd have to send it again." The new program is set up to allow developers to test applications themselves. Once they are sure the application passes the Application Specification for Windows 2000, they can send it on to VeriTest.
Rational is finishing a software program called Rational TestFoundation for Windows 2000 that will be available as a free download from the Rational Web site. Since the software is free, Rational is encouraging developers to use it even if they don't intend to submit any applications for certification.
The Rational TestFoundation comes in three components. The first is the Test Plan, which is provided by Microsoft and defines all of the manual tests necessary for a product to comply with the Windows 2000 "app spec." The plan defines the steps and the underlying tools required to execute the test. There is a Methodology Guide that gives a bird's eye view of the testing environment, process and tools used. The pack also includes a collection of tools in the form of executables, automation scripts, manual tests and databases that help implement the test plan.
While the tools are available free of cost, Rational is able to pull developers into its profit center by integrating TestFoundation with Rational's TeamTest, which is sold as part of the larger Rational Suite TestStudio. One such integration is the use of the executables. While the programs can be run manually, in each case the developer would have to record the results of the run in a test log. Developers could use Rational Robot, through which scripts are run and automatically logged in the Rational TestFoundation for Windows 2000 repository/reporting system. Rational Robot is built into Rational TeamTest, but not TestFoundation.
One vendor that is aiming to be the first with a product certified for use on Windows 2000 is WRQ Inc. (www.wrq.com) with its Reflection 8.0 host access software. "We want to have a logoed product available by the time Windows 2000 is launched," says Prasantha Jayakody, strategic marketing manager for WRQ's Reflection. "While administrators are evaluating Windows 2000, they can be evaluating Reflection as well."
Jayakody says the biggest obstacle to getting a Windows 2000-certified application out the door is Windows 2000 itself. He explains that release candidate 1 (RC1) has helped the Reflection testing process, but that, "we need something more than release candidate 1." Microsoft has not announced a second release candidate. In April, when it released Beta 3, the company said that since the third beta was feature complete, release candidates would follow each other by five to nine weeks. RC1 was released in early July.
Is WRQ worried about the rigorous testing process? Jayakody says no. "We're glad it's a much more rigorous test process," he says. "It makes it easier for customers to understand what they're getting for a logoed product."
Microsoft's Beilinson says that is the point. "The goals that you had to achieve to get that logo weren't stringent enough in the past, so customers didn't look at an app that had a 'Designed For' logo and say 'Wow, that's going to be a robust app,'" Beilinson explains. "By making the certification so tough, [the logo] will be seen as a badge of honor."
Important Sites for Windows 2000 Application Certification