Tuesday 15 September 2009

Virtual PC .. Windows 7 ...Sigh...

Spent the day trying to debug an application for compatibility issues. As you would (I am sure you would), I created a virtual machine with a new Windows 7 build. For those less initiated in the fine arts of attempting to get recalcitrant applications to; install successfully, Start, Run, do something ... and then not crash

The last thing you want is to have a machine filled with applications installs that FAIL to do most of the above (I admit, the nature of the result of some of my work). So, I built a virtual machine, as you would, I am sure you would. Note: I am repeating myself - because I have just lost a significant part of my mind, and possibly my soul.

Here is why. Created a Virtual PC machine. Installed Windows 7 as a GUEST build. So far so good. Note: I am doing on this work on a Windows 7 host machine. On the guest (Virtual PC machine) I tried to install the Virtual PC tools and drivers. These are the tools that are shipped with Virtual PC to allow for increased functionality and little things like being able to work across Remote Desktop Session (RDP) and having the ability to Drag'n'Drop files onto a target Guest Virtual machine.

Well, Under Windows 7, installing these default tools, utilities and drivers generated a Blue Screen of Death. So, I did a restore ... Back to the original state . This worked OK.

Thinking about this for a while... I thought to myself... Hey, I should be using the latest Virtual PC software from Microsoft. This thought was also associated with vague hope that "a later version" would solve this issue and offer something new/better.

So, I downloaded the Virtual PC from the Microsoft website (look here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/download.aspx)

Hint: I didn't read the instructions.... Oh, now the tale of woe begins...

I rushed ahead and installed the new update (a MSU package) with the drunken glee of a techie with a new download.

Now, this is where life becomes difficult/interesting. As this update is not a MSI, the installation of this new Virtual PC application does not show in the Add Remove Control Panel Applet (ARP). So, wait for it.

You can't uninstall it. Yes, maybe you can - I am just not smart/informed/good-looking enough to bribe someone to help me.

I repeat - You can not Un-install this update. This is important. Besides, breaking all of the principles I hold true about application installations (i.e. Install/update/un-install) this just comes as a nasty shock.

Because, now I have read the instructions on the Virtual PC web-page. You need to ensure that your hardware supports virtualization. There is a simply (but, surprisingly large and complex) application from Intel that will let you know the good or bad news .

Look here for this Intel applet: http://www.intel.com/support/processors/tools/piu/

Does my machine support virtualization? Does it? No! It does not.

Too late...

That's OK, I can just run Virtual PC 2007. It ran before... Just slowly...

This is what I got...

So, with some hope, I clicked on the "Check for Solutions Online" button.

I got...

Meaning now... Both versions of Virtual PC do not work on my machine.

Luckily, I have an inkling on how the Program Compatibility Assistant (PCA) works. It identifies executables through a complex algorithm of filename, header information and file date/time/size data. Luckily, for me you can change the EXE name for Virtual PC and fool PCA.

A simple work-around for the simple minded

Moral: There are two morals to this story:

1) At least passing a wincing eye over the instructions. Especially, if they include words like "Important" or have big orange boxes around them.

2) Be very careful with MSU application installations. I suggest that you install them on a Virtual PC first. :)


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