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Vista's Program Compatibility Assistant

Created: 15 Nov 2007 • Updated: 15 Nov 2007 | 1 comment
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R-Vijay's picture
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Microsoft introduced the Program Compatibility Assistant (PCA) in Vista. PCA replaces the Program Compatibility wizard in the Help and Support as well as in the Compatibility tab of an executable's file properties in Windows XP. PCA is designed to automate the assignment of compatibility fixes to applications when they are required. PCA runs in the background and monitors applications for known issues. If an issue is detected, it notifies the user and offers solutions.

PCA can detect and help resolve several issues like:

  • Failures in setup programs
  • Programs failures while trying to launch installers
  • Installers that need to be run as administrator
  • Legacy control panels that may need to run as administrator
  • Program failures due to deprecated Windows Components
  • Unsigned drivers on 64-bit platforms

In addition, PCA manages its own settings in the registry and will automatically inform users about compatibility issues with known programs at startup. PCA can also manage application Help messages. Programs can be excluded from PCA through Group Policy. Group Policy can also be used to control the behavior of PCA on PCs.

PCA automatically pops up when issues arise and will automatically reconfigure application compatibility settings based on known issues.

In this case, goto the application setup exe, right click on it, click on the compatibility tab.

Change the settings as per the application needs. These settings appear in the Compatibility tab of a program executable's file properties.

If still the problem exists, rename the setup file as some word which has the word install or setup in it. (For eg: abc.exe to abcinstall.exe or setup.exe). The best solution for this would be to package this application as a msi and install it through the Msiexec service. This will solve major problems caused by install programs.

PCA modifications are applied at the individual user level in keeping with the user mode approach used by Vista. Settings can be modified for all users, but elevated privileges are required to do so. This lets PCA work even with standard user accounts.

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R-Vijay's picture

PCA is intended to detect issues with programs designed for previous versions of Windows.

To exclude a program from PCA include an application manifest with run level (either admin or as limited user) marking for UAC.

This applies to both installer and regular programs.

Microsoft MVP [Setup-Deploy]

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