How compatible is Windows 10 from an application perspective?

As enterprises implement and get to know Windows 10, IT managers wonder: “How many current business applications will work on the new operating system?”

Fortunately, Citrix is here to help.

Microsoft has not made an official statement (to the best of my knowledge), however the general messaging and sentiment seems to be that Windows 10 is a highly compatible operating system and our findings seem to indicate that this is the case, when comparing it to a like version (same processor platform, 32-bit/64-bit) of Windows from its predecessor, Windows 8.1.

We tested 488 applications on Windows 8.1 64-bit and then repeated the same test on Windows 10 64-bit, and found only one application that failed to work on Windows 10.  That means, if my math serves me correctly, that the compatibility between Windows 8.1 64-bit and Windows 10 64 bit is 99.80%!!

Whoa, steady on there …

As much as us we would like it, application compatibility is just not that binary, because this would pre-suppose you have the same apps, moving to the same vanilla image, which is never the case.

It all depends on your applications, your current desktop environment and your investment in modernizing your operating system platform in the past.

Yes, there is a high level of application compatibility if you are moving, for example, from Windows 8.1 64-bit to Windows 10 64-bit. However, that is not the case if you are moving from Windows 8.1 32-bit, or Windows 7 64-bit, or even Windows XP 32-bit or 64-Bit!

In fact, the older the operating system and the older the application the more risk you assume when making these migrations—especially if you’ve never had Citrix AppDNA to help you.

You might be surprised to see Windows XP in the statement above but according to, ~30% of all desktop machines are still on Windows XP!

Windows XP


I expect most enterprises and commercial organisations will have a mix of operating system versions and processor platforms out there, further adding to the complexity of being able to move cleanly and safely to the latest platform.

Enter Citrix AppDNA.

How can AppDNA help me move to Windows 10?

AppDNA which is included in XenApp Platinum and XenDesktop Platinum editions, can help you assess and categorise your application readiness for Windows 10, irrespective of which platform you are coming from (or if you’re coming from a mix of platforms).

I won’t go into more detail about AppDNA here, you can learn more from these two excellent articles: on how it can help you, Moving Apps to Windows 10? AppDNA Can Help!; and AppDNA: A Platform, Not a Tool.

But where are the “New” Windows 10 algorithms in AppDNA? I don’t see any!

Those of you who are familiar with AppDNA might be looking for “new” Windows 10 algorithms … but there aren’t any (at least not any explicit ones).

However, due to the heuristic nature of some of the existing algorithms you still get Windows 10 application compatibility reporting and you will get a refreshed application compatibility RAG (Red, Amber or Green) status by virtue of the fact that we have updated all the internal operating system snapshots that AppDNA ships with to include Windows 10 64-bit as the most likely target platform.

This means operating system checking and the missing API dependency analysis will detect any applications or installers that may depend on obsolete API calls; or may not correctly version check Windows 10 correctly during installation.

Best of all, AppDNA can give you a report no matter what platform you are coming from, even if you are crossing the 64-bit threshold for the first time with some of your applications.

In summary, while Windows 10 may be the most app compatible OS platform ever, play it smart when moving to Windows 10 by using Citrix AppDNA. It will significantly reduce your risk, save you time, and eliminate a lot of hassle.

Interested in learning more? Watch for my post next week that takes a deeper dive into Windows 10 application compatibility.