Running HeavyMetal on VistaTM
November 19, 2009
While the following information refers to Vista, most of the recommendations
and information apply equally to Windows7. While Windows7 is obviously newer,
and fewer HeavyMetal users have it as of this writing, most have installed and
are using HM programs on Win7 with roughly the same success and experiences as
with Vista (that is, generally, good).
May 16, 2008
So, do the HeavyMetal programs run on Microsoft's latest version of Windows,
Vista? The answer is yes, but not automatically. In fact, I currently run only
Vista Ultimate, and use it to both develop and run all of the HeavyMetal
programs. This page
may end up being as much a Blog as anything else, as I learn more about Vista,
and determine the best way to run HeavyMetal programs under it. I will also take
what I learn, and use it to modify the programs in the future so that they work
more automatically and seamlessly with Vista. The first program to do that will
be, I hope, HeavyMetal Pro 6, which is now in production.
Okay, so how do you
install and run the programs under Vista? I'm going to give you a few steps
which seem to work well on my new PC, and which you should try to use with
yours. If they don't work, please contact me and tell me, letting me know
what went wrong, what happened, what you did to make it work, etc. I'll be doing
more extensive testing myself, and will modify this page based on that
experience and the experiences of others. Anyhow, here goes:
- For now (until I learn more, at least), it's probably best not to
install the program directly from the Install button which appears on the
autoplay screen after inserting the CD. I'm sure I can make it work reliably
and automatically later, but we want this to work for sure, with the
programs as they are right now. (Note: Later versions of the setup program
handle a lot of this for you, requiring a login as an administrator, etc.,
however these instructions are written to allow owners of older
installations to install as well.)
- Navigate, using Windows Explorer, to the location where the Setup
program is located. If you purchased a CD, it will be the root directory of
the CD in your CD drive. If you downloaded the program, it will be located
where you saved the download.
- Locate the file used to install the program. If you're using a CD, the
file will be called Setup.exe (or just plain Setup, if you have file
extensions hidden). If you've downloaded, the filename might be something
like HMPlusSetup.exe or HMMapV100R2.exe.
- Right-click on the install file which you located in the previous step,
and select Properties at the bottom of the popup menu.
- Click on the Compatibility tab.
- Check the 'Run this program in compatibility mode for' checkbox, and
choose Windows XP (Service Pack 2) from the dropdown list below it.
- Check the 'Run this program as an administrator' checkbox.
- Click OK.
Install the Program:
- Now, double-click on the same install file to install the program.
- When the dialog box which says 'An unidentified program wants to
access your computer' pops up, click on Allow.
- If a dialog box pops up saying that you do not have sufficient
resources or that your system is not capable of installing the software,
click OK to continue anyhow. Some setups don't properly recognize Vista
as an allowable operating system.
- Proceed normally through the setup program to install the software.
Please note into what folder you install the program.
Prepare the Program EXE for Running:
- Using Windows Explorer, navigate to the directory where you
installed the program. In the case of HeavyMetal Plus, you will
actually have to do this procedure to all four programs (including
RUS), most of which are stored into subdirectories of the install
- Locate the program executable (Hvypro.exe for HMPro, HMVee.exe
for HMVee, etc.).
- Right-click on the program executable which you located in the
previous step, and select Properties at the bottom of the popup
- Click on the Compatibility tab:
- Check the 'Run this program in compatibility mode for' checkbox,
and choose Windows XP (Service Pack 2) from the dropdown list below
it. (This is actually optional; I usually don't bother with it.)
- New: You may also want to check the "Disable desktop
composition" box. This turns the Aero translucent effects off while the
program is running. The upside is that dragging and dropping items
on the Distribution screen will be much smoother, without flashing
boxes. It works fine either way, you just have a choice of Aero and
flashing boxes, or no Aero and smooth moving boxes. Sorry.
- Check the 'Run this program as an administrator' checkbox.
- Click on the Shortcut tab:
- Click on the Advanced button:
- Check the Run as administrator check box, then click OK.
- Click OK to make save your changes.
Run the Program Normally:
- The program should now run normally, by double-clicking on
the executable(s) noted above, or by using any of the shortcuts
installed in the Start menu or on the Windows Desktop.
Surprisingly (to me, at least), after setting the
compatibility and run-as checkboxes for the program and running
it the first time, it seems to run fine after that if the checks
are removed. I don't know why yet, but I'll find out.
What if This Doesn't Work?
While the above installation procedure works for 95%+ of the
installations, sometimes there are problem children. Typical
Component 'VSOCX32.OCX or one of its dependencies is not correctly
registered: Although Vsocx32.ocx is the most common culprit, this can happen
to other runtime files as well. The easiest thing to try first is a Runtime
install that I have set up for this purpose, that just installs all the latest
runtime files. In particular, you should do this if you have an older version of
a HM program, as this version forces an overwrite. To do this, just download,
and then run, the latest HeavyMetal Runtime File
Component 'COMDLG32.OCX or one of its dependencies is not correctly
registered: This is a pretty weird one, at least as far as the solutions go.
Try the following in this order:
- Start a Command Prompt as an Administrator (Click on the Start button,
type 'Command', and when Vista finds Command Prompt, right-click on it and
select Start as administrator.
- Navigate to the C:\Windows\System32 folder
- UN-Register this control by entering the line
regsvr32 comdlg32.ocx /u.
- RE-Register this control by entering the line
- Try running the HM program.
- If it still will not run, repeat line 3 only, then try running
the program, making sure you are logged in as an Administrator.
- If it still won't run, repeat line 3 only, then copy the file
commdlg32.ocx to your HM program folder(s) (where the main exe is located
for each program), and again try running the program, making sure you are
logged in as an Administrator.
Why is All This Necessary??!
Good question. Well, if you have Vista, you know that it is
very different than anything you've used in the past. One
of the very different things is the added security provided by
Vista's User Account Control. Basically, users do not operate as
administrators of their PC, the way that previous Windows
versions allowed. They operate as a normal user, and as such, do
not have rights to install most software. And certainly do not
have rights to add or modify files in the Program Files
directory, Windows directories or the Registry. Therefore, to
install a program, you must temporarily log on as an
Some programs recognize that, and ask your permission to
temporarily use administrator privileges to install. That's the
reason for the 'Run as administrator' checkbox on the Setup
program. In addition, XP programs saved files into different
locations than Vista normally does, so that's why the Windows XP
Okay, fine, that makes sense for installing the
program, but why running it?
Well, all of the HeavyMetal program, and many other legacy
programs, save their data files ('Mechs, vehicles, etc.) into a
subdirectory of the main program's files. Logical, right? Well,
it may be logical, but to Vista, it's a no-no. All of the files
in the Program Files directories are considered protected files,
and you're not allowed to change them. Vista wants you to put
your 'Mechs and other stuff into your Users subfolders
somewhere. Heck, even the innocent Hvypro.ini file, which saves
your program's settings, isn't allowed to be changed by Vista.
So, we use the Windows XP Compatibility mode checkbox, which
does allow these kinds of file changes. Kind of (we'll get into
that in a moment). And the programs also write to the Windows
Registry, which requires running as Administrator again. But
wait a minute! I said above that Vista won't allow you to write
to the Program Files subfolders, so why could you possibly turn
of administrator mode, or even XP compatibility mode, and still
use the program? The answer is Virtualization.
Virtualization? Or "I should have quit when I was behind!"
Windows Vista will not normally allow you to write to
the Program Files folders or subfolders. Yet, you will be able
to save and add 'Mech data files and save your settings using
the INI file. How? Windows virtualizes the files. That is, it
actually saves them somewhere deep within your User settings.
But they will look like they're saved in the \Mechs
folder. Silly? Don't believe it? Believe it! Other users that
log into your computer won't even be able to see your changes
(making having separate settings for each person kind of neat)!
Vista does this, because it knows there are numerous
programs out there that need to write to these locations. Heck,
Vista even virtualizes the Registry settings, changing the
actual location it writes to, to another allowable location.
Why does equipment flash when I move them around on the
Windows Vista seems to have a problem when dragging certain
controls; unfortunately, the ones I use when dragging and
dropping on the Distribution screen of HeavyMetal Pro. There is
a fix, as noted above under
Preparing the Program EXE for Running. The fix involves
unchecking the Disable desktop composition on the Compatibility
tab of the program's shortcut properties. Just right-click on
the icon, select Properties, then the Compatibility tab, and
check the box as shown above. As noted above, this disables the
Vista Aero effects for all programs while HMPro is running, but
this smoothes out the drag and drop operation. I'm afraid you
have a choice of one or the other. I don't feel too bad
doing this, as my Paint Shop Pro 9 does exactly the same thing.
Help? What Help?
So, you've noticed that the 50,000+ word help file that I
spent years working on no longer works? Instead, you get a nice
little Windows Vista dialog box telling you that only old ladies
and sissies still use the legacy help system (WinHlp32.exe), and
gives you a nice
link to get more information. There, Microsoft tells you in
detail why it's not included, despite the fact that it has been
a part of the operating system since Windows 3.1. To add insult
to injury, they explain that "third-part programs (like
HeavyMetal programs) that include .hlp files are prohibited from
redistributing the Windows Help program together with their
products". So, even though the file is absolutely necessary, and
even though they've elected not to included it, I can't give
it to you!?
Luckily, Microsoft let's you get the file and install it. While they'd
never make it easy by posting a link to it, I have found a link to the
Windows Help program for Windows Vista at the Microsoft Download Center. A
similar file for Windows7 can be found at
Windows Help program for Windows 7. You
have to validate your Vista installation prior to downloading, but once you do
download and install the program, the help system will work just great.
There, now that wasn't such a chore, was it?? You really begin to wonder if
Microsoft is just trying to make life tough for us, some times. ;-)
Will it Always Be This Way?
I'm not sure, but probably not. As I get more experienced
with the Vista restrictions and standards, I'll be changing the
programs to work more seamlessly with Vista, work more easily
and with less manual intervention by you (maybe even none). But
in the meantime, using the above steps will allow you to run all
the HeavyMetal programs on Vista. And that's what counts, right?
Again, if you don't understand any of the above (and think
there's a chance in hell I will be able to help you), please
email me. Likewise, if you find that something doesn't work as
explained, or find a better way of doing things, please let me
know that too. This page will be changing regularly, depending
on our latest Vista knowledge and experiences.