Monday, April 23, 2007

Vista incompatibilities - hitting home this time.

I've been recommending against upgrading to Windows Vista since the betas. There simply is no business case for the upgrade. If you're using FoxPro-based software like SBT Database Accounting, though, there's an iron-clad business case for not upgrading.

The software doesn't work under Vista.

I'm not just talking about the scary "do you really want to run this dangerous software?" prompt that you'll have to click through every single time you run the program, with no "Remember this decision" option. No, it just won't work.

As best as I can tell, there's a compatibility problem between the Visual FoxPro runtime and Vista's networking. Once you've clicked through the scare notice you'll find that SBT has no access to mapped network drives. Doubtless, this contributed to Microsoft's recent decision to drop support for Visual FoxPro. It would have been nice if Microsoft had the 'nads to admit that compatibility issues were at the core of the decision; and better yet if Microsoft had published a compatibility list for Vista as they did with XP, rather than try to slip an incompatible OS under the door by deliberately withholding compatibility information vital to businesses, but I digress...

You can sort of make it work, after a fashion, if you install the full developer version of Visual FoxPro 9. This means that you'd have to run the SBT VisionPoint program manually from VFP's command window. (You still won't be able to run vpw.exe directly from Windows.) But even that proves to be dicey, so I recommend installing XP on any machine that's to which you want to migrate your SBT software. New machines from Gateway and Dell come with SATA drives, so clean installs of XP are tricky, but it's far better than not having access to your accounting system.

FYI, to install XP on your SATA drive, simply download the drivers for your drive from the manufacturer's website or get them off of the drivers disk if the manufacturer isn't one of those substandard vendors who no longer ships them on disk with the machine. Burn them to a CD (you probably don't have a floppy drive, so the advice I've often seen -- to copy these to floppy -- is just plain silly). Then during XP's install process, click F6 when asked if you want to install RAID or SCSI drivers. Insert the disk with the drivers, install them, then continue with the installation.

And, unless you've tested Vista thoroughly in your environment with all of your mission-critical programs, avoid Vista. AVOID AVOID AVOID.

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