Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Windows 7 64-bit: Full-screen 32-bit DOS program

One of the old MS-DOS programs that I need to use won't run on a 64-bit operating system, and I run Windows 7 64-bit as my desktop.  I tried changing all the compatibility settings, but nothing would work.  The next logical step (in my mind) was to run it in one of our Windows XP virtual machines.  Unfortunately, remote desktop (aka terminal services) doesn't have the capability to load full-screen MS-DOS fonts due to performance issues, and this causes the following error message:

The video device failed to initialize for fullscreen mode. Choose 'Close' to terminate the application.

So using remote desktop to access a 32-bit virtual machine was out of the question.  The next idea that came to mind was using a feature of Windows 7 called Windows XP Mode.  This simply creates a virtual machine on your Windows 7 desktop that you can use to run legacy applications.  It can be downloaded here.  Make sure you remember the password you create, because even if you check the box for automatic log in, you'll need it in a few steps.

Once I got this up and running (it's pretty buggy), I copied my MS-DOS program onto the virtual XP machine and tried to run it.  Guess what? Same error!

The video device failed to initialize for fullscreen mode. Choose 'Close' to terminate the application.

This seemed bizarre to me, so I changed the only readily-available setting for the VM:  I clicked on Tools --> Disable Integration Features.  After doing this, the program ran perfectly!

What a pain, just for some old DOS program, huh?


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