The emulated hardware and simplified drivers that run in a virtual PC (VPC) can help you determine where a host PC’s troubles might lie.
Plus: OEM recovery discs and nondestructive reinstalls, two ways to open an admin-level command window, and another way to recover files from an infected drive.
Using a VPC to troubleshoot issues with old app
Reader Drew Foster hadn’t had any trouble loading older software on his Win7 PC. Then something changed.
- “I am running Windows 7 x64. I like to play old CD-ROM games — for me, it’s like watching old movies. But now there’s a problem: I can no longer load games such as Prey, Splinter Cell Double Agent, and Call of Cthulhu. When I try to install them, InstallShield starts up, then goes away after three seconds.
“There’s no error message, and typically the CD keeps spinning for at least a minute. There’s nothing reported in Windows’ Event Viewer. I even tried a nondestructive reinstall. No dice!
“Here’s the weird part. I can install these games on a virtual machine running the same OS (again, 64-bit Win 7) and connected to the same physical CD drive.
“Having tried every solution I can find on Google, I’m at my wits’ end. Please advise.”
Drew, your experiment with a virtual PC suggests the answer. Your old software works fine when — and only when — it’s run inside a VPC. That points to an issue with your current DVD/CD drivers. Here’s why.
Like all applications running in the real (host) version of Windows, VPC software uses the drivers installed specifically for the physical hardware — video boards, optical disc drives, and so on. But the operating system and other software running inside a VPC see only generic, lowest-common-denominator hardware drivers. (The VPC software emulates a physical system and translates between the virtual hardware and the physical hardware.)