Microsoft is to require hardware makers to test their device drivers on Windows 7 to receive certification for Windows Vista.

In its explanation of the Windows Logo Programme, Microsoft spelled out the new requirement. "Beginning with the release of the first beta of the next operating system, all Windows Vista client and Windows Server 2008 submissions must include a complete [set of] test logs for the new beta OS," the company said in the document.

Microsoft has only provided a few titbits about the next version of its operating system, including multi-touch functions similar to what Apple now offers on its iPhone , Microsoft has not publicly set a release date for Beta 1. The Windows Logo Programme specifies that device drivers must be tested starting from 1 June. It doesn't appear that the requirement is retroactive.

The tests, submitted using the Winqual Submission Tool, are part of the qualification process Microsoft demands of peripherals and PC makers who want to use the "Windows Vista," "Certified with Windows Vista" or other similar logos on their products or packaging.

Drivers don't necessarily have to pass those tests in the first beta of Windows 7, said Microsoft, but the results must be turned over to the company. And Microsoft reminded the hardware makers and system sellers that it will hold them to account when Windows 7 nears. "Issues with hardware, system BIOS or drivers must be investigated and resolved by partners prior to the launch of the logo program for the new OS," Microsoft said.

When asked why it is requiring device driver makers to run tests in Windows 7, Microsoft released a statement in response. "We continue to work closely with our industry partners to ensure that products and services that have obtained the Windows Vista logo certification will also be compatible for successful upgrades to Windows 7."

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Earlier this week, however, Microsoft executives, including Steven Sinofsky, who heads Windows development, said that Vista's device drivers will be compatible with the new Windows 7, which is planned for a late-2009 or early-2010 release.

Vista required new drivers for all hardware, a disruption that even high-level company executives struggled with, as some admitted in internal e-mails made public earlier this year as part of the "Vista Capable" class-action lawsuit .

The Windows Logo Programme documentation gave a glimpse of Microsoft's motivation to stick with Vista's driver model and demand testing on Windows 7 when the beta ships. "Customers have a need to ensure compatibility with the new releases of the OS and [ensure] that hardware (systems and devices) are fully functional after an upgrade," said the program's document. "This will enable Microsoft and partners to evaluate the results and correct issues in the new OS and the associated hardware as part of the release plan."