Adventures in Windows Vista (x64) - Part 3
I've been running Vista x64 for about a month now. So far it's been a pretty painless experience. Here are a few updates:
I continue to be amazed by the amount of software that continues to be compatible with x64.
- Counter Strike Source
- Day of Defeat: Source
- Dungeon's & Dragons: Dragonshards
- Far Cry
- Half-Life 2: Episode One
- Half-Life: Source
- Halo: Combat Evolved
- Magic the Gathering: Battlegrounds
- Neverwinter Nights 2
- Quake 4
- SiN Episodes: Emergence
- The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth II
- Tron 2.0
- WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos
As you can see a wide array of games that works under Vista x64. Am I playing Diablo? Well, no... but I installed it just to see how old of a game I could install and run under Vista x64. Since it worked, I figured I'd go even further back...
No 16-bit Allowed
I suppose this is somewhat understandable. How far back should Windows go in supporting "old" software? I tried installing a few DOS games from way back when and Vista x64 gave me a polite dialog box stating that I should contact the vendor of the application for an x64 compatible version. However, all is not lost. Enter DOSBox. DOSBox is an emulator that allows you to run DOS application under the current versions of Windows. It emulates various pieces of hardware (video, audio, etc.) and has limited "DOS" functionality so that you can manipulate the file system and launch applications. And yes, it works with Vista x64. To give it a whirl, I installed Trog (an arcade game from ages ago that also had a PC version). Worked great.
Video Editing Software
Pinnacle Systems finally released a version of their Studio software for Windows Vista. Luckily for me, they also released a x64 version (at least the installer stated it's installing for x64); though they recommend the x86 version. Bah... I'm going 64-bit... keep up people. I do have to point out though that their so called Vista version still requires Vista to enter into compatibility mode since they are writing to the Program Files\Pinnacle\Studio 11 folder.
"Next Gen" Gaming
Halo 2 and Shadowrun were released while I was away at Tech-Ed 2007. I installed Halo 2 and the experience was what one would expect with any "next gen" type of release. What do I mean by that?
1. Install game. Even though it had the "play while installing feature"; that was utterly useless since the first thing I did while installing was try to connect to Live.
2. Apply patch for Live.
3. Restart the game/install.
4. Started playing the game and noticed a lot of triangle drawing issues. Exited game.
5. Visited nVidia to see if any new updates to their driver existed.
6. New driver. Downloaded, installed, rebooted, continued driver install, reconfigured screen resolution and multiple monitor configuration.
7. Started game (yet again).
8. Finally able to play the game as it was designed to be played.
Oh well, so much for making it "simpler". I will say, though, how nice it is to be able to play using the Xbox 360 wireless controller. Giving it a go with the controller first and then will switch to keyboard - it just somehow feels wrong to use the keyboard given that I have the controller and that's the way that I played Halo 2 in the first place.
Shadowrun is on the list of games to be played, but I expect that experience to be better since I've already updated the Live components and video drivers. Maybe I should have installed Shadowrun first; that way I could have really experienced the play while install feature. ;-)
I somewhat expected that the Zune software wouldn't work on x64. It's always nice to be surprised. For the most part, Zune worked. The driver installs and the software syncs the device just fine. The only issue that I saw was in the browser (internal to the software) had an error displayed. Didn't get a chance to explore this too much before Tech-Ed and now it appears to be resolved... so maybe it was just a coincidence and a server issue.
LOTR and DDO Update
I suppose Turbine is ignoring the crash submissions (assuming they are signed up for that program) for us low in number x64 subscribers. Yes, I still get a crash dialog whenever I exit their games. So far, it only appears to be their games that this happens on...
Software Development "Issues"
I got verification that Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition doesn't work in 64-bit mode. It appears that a portion of the technology is ready for x64; but the other portion is still x86 and isn't on the roadmap to be resolved in the "Orcas" timeframe.
My advice... make sure *all* of your applications are marked as targeting x86 and only set to "any" (the default) after you've tested on x86 and x64. I'm not sure who decided "any" was the right choice; but my experience and gut are telling me that was the wrong choice.
Stop Requiring Administrator
I'm going to start pointing out (when I can) companies and software products that aren't "User" friendly. By user friendly, I mean not working as a regular user; forcing their users to run as Administrator on operating systems prior to Windows Vista and force Vista into compatibility mode (utilizing the VirtualStore). Here's a starter list:
- Pinnacle Systems - Studio 11 (uses the "Works with Windows Vista" logo - the Titles folder contains title templates that I created and those that were created during installation)
- Sling Media - SlingPlayer (uses the Vista pearl on their download site - several .ini, .xml, .txt files and a Favorites folder containing a .spf file)
- Microsoft - Zune (some sort of log file is placed in the VirtualStore area)
- Invelos Software - DVD Profiler 3.0 (creates an empty folder in the VirtualStore - not sure why)
- Turbine - The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar (a Games for Windows certified game, which includes the Vista pearl logo - game updates are dropped into the VirtualStore; I've modified the permissions for this folder so that this does not occur)
- Turbine - Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach (same issue/solution as LOTRO).
- Lutz Roeder - Reflector (ok, this one isn't completely fair since it doesn't include an installer and doesn't make any claim that it's "compatible with Vista"; however, if you do place it in the Program Files folder the config file will be created/updated in the VirtualStore.)
To the best of my knowledge, the only reason why these folders would be utilized in the VirtualStore is because the application is unable to write these to the Program Files tree due to permissions set on those respective folders. By default the Program Files folders doesn't allow "Users" to write/modify.
The biggest reason why I'm drawing attention to the above applications is that this sort of issue should really exist given that the best practices have been documented and in existence for the past decade. This is the biggest reason why things like UAC *need* to exist. Applications should not require administrative rights unless they are doing administrative level duties. Requiring an application to run as an administrator due to bad design or laziness is downright unacceptable.
Am I guilty of such? Sort of. There currently isn't a good story regarding software updates via self-updating applications. Just as Turbine (and Blizzard) games are self-updating (thus need permission to update the files either as administrator elevation or modifying the folder so that the user has the right to do so); XboxFriends for the Desktop also has this requirement. So does Lutz Roeder's Reflector application. However, remember what I said. You should only require administrative rights if you are doing an administrative task. Installation (for the most part) is an administrative task. Updates could be considered part of that category. However, if an administrator installed an application, I feel that they have also given their permission that the application should allow for updates. There is a model in the MSI installer realm that allows for this; though the usage of it is rather complex. This should be resolved by MS accordingly; though I haven't heard of any movement in this regard... so if there is, and your reading this, please let me know.
So after running for a month; using this computer as my primary machine doing whatever I would normally do, whether that be developing software, gaming, writing documents, paying bills, etc., everything has been relatively painless and, dare I say, enjoyable.