Microsoft Virtual PC: Microsoft’s Incompatibility Savior

April 25, 2009

virtual_pcIn a recent computer magazine help section, someone wrote in with an issue of running a Windows 32-bit application on a Windows 64-bit system. Apparently, his application would not run on the 64-bit platform. The author of the help section responded by suggesting the reader run his 32-bit application inside of Microsoft Virtual PC. That same response is often give to Windows Vista 32-bit users who have a troublesome application that ran under Windows XP, but not Windows Vista (I had that problem with some old Microsoft Compilers).

Now, this answer sounds easy to do, but let me tell you from experience that using Microsoft Virtual PC is really inconvenient. Because you’re actually emulating a PC inside your own PC, it’s like having a 2nd desktop PC. As such, you have to install Windows XP (or whatever OS you need for your application) on your “Virtual PC”. So whenever you want to run your one or two troublesome applications you have to start up Microsoft Virtual PC, wait for it to “boot up” completely, THEN run your application. It’s a contrite answer to the problem, and not a very good solution in my opinion.

So my solution to the incompatible Microsoft Compiler was to upgrade to a newer version. And if I come across other incompatible applications, I’ll just dump then and find a better solution!

Get System Customization Tips

March 4, 2009

mechanicOver the years I’ve found that the default settings for Windows XP and Vista aren’t the most efficient for my needs. I often make some small tweaks and setting changes to help improve my system’s overall performance. For example, I always turn off “Index this drive for faster searching” since this background operation constantly thrashes my disk drive and chews up CPU utilization. I get my system tweak tips from various web sites on the Internet, with the following being my favorite sites:

How-to-Geek : I love this site, since they have lots of good tips for improving the performance of my WinXP and Vista systems. They explain all their tips very clearly, and often provide nice screenshots to make it easier to understand. : This web page offers some good tips on improving the speed of Vista OS systems. They have a good description of each tip with the benefits and drawbacks to using the particular tip. : This site offers some super-tweaks for WinXP and Vista systems that I usually implement when I first install the OS on a machine. Some of their suggestions involve using the RegEdit program to edit the registry file on your system, so you need to be careful whenever you mess around the registry file (i.e., don’t indiscrimently delete entries if you don’t know what they are!).

I’ve found making some of these tweaks on my Desktop Vista system significantly improves daily performance. My system is snappy and I don’t have a lot of background disk activity or CPU activity. So, I highly recommend you check out these tweak sites if you find your system running sluggish and you don’t know what’s Windows is doing in the background with it’s mysterious activity!

ObjectDock – An Apple Dock Clone For The PCs

March 4, 2009

During the time I was investigating the Apple Mac OS X, one nice feature was the Dock Panel located at the bottom of the screen. The Dock was a convenient panel where you could launch frequently-used applications or bring into the foreground running applications. As it turns out, the company called StarDock has a similar add-on utility that does virtually the exact same thing (including the puff of smoke animation that occurs when you drag an icon off the dock area).

From the image below, you can see the Apple Dock as viewed on a Mac machine:


(click image to enlarge)

As you move the mouse across the top of the various icons, they enlarge slightly with a title displayed above them. If you select the icon, they then activate the associated application. The freeware utility called ObjectDock (by StarDock) operates in the exact same fashion as Apple’s Dock, where you can have icons displayed on the dock for launching applications or for running applications. Below is a screen show showing what ObjectDock looks like on my Windows 7 Beta OS system: Read the rest of this entry »

Windows XP and Vista Tweaks

March 2, 2009

mechanicI stumbled upon this web site ( which describes numerous tweaks for a fresh Windows XP Installation. In addition to WinXP tweaks, this site also has Vista and Windows 7 tweaks that you can try out. For all of my current machines, I’ve initiated the XP and Vista tweaks with no ill effects.

Another site for good Vista tweaks is here. And then there’s always the How-To-Geek site that offers lots of good suggestions and tips.

Creating a Custom WinXP/Vista/Windows 7 Installation

March 2, 2009

slimThere is a wonderful freeware utility called nLite that allows you to create a custom Windows XP installation where you can pick-and-choose what you want installed on your system. For example, the default WinXP installation will install various files for several different languages and keyboards, hardware drivers, applications, etc. which you probably will never use. So why not remove this unnecessary stuff from the Windows installation files? That is exactly what the nLite application does.

What’s nice about nLite, is that it have a very easy to use interface that steps you through the customization procedure. You can very easily select which items (e.g., applications, drivers, services, etc.) that you want to exclude from the custom WinXP installation files. There’s also provisions to check if you’re trying to remove a feature or file needed by something else in the installation. Now, it may seem undaunting at first since you may not know what items to keep and exclude from the custom installation, but there’s several web sites that offer assistance and suggestions.

I’ve documented how to use nLite for creating a very small WinXP installation on my Dell Mini 9 web blog. Since disk space on the Mini 9 Netbook is such a premium, having the smallest OS installation is a must.

Likewise, there is a program called vLite that allows you create custom Windows Vista and Windows 7 installation files. I used vLite to create a reduced Win7 installation DVD for my D610, and it seemed to run just fine. Read the rest of this entry »