Install Windows Messenger 5.1 on Windows Vista or Windows 7

October 19, 2010

Windows Messenger was an instant messaging client from Microsoft which could connect to Microsoft .NET Passport (now Windows Live ID), SIP (session initiation protocol) communication services, and Microsoft Exchange Instant Messaging. Windows Messenger 5.1 was included with Windows XP but was not released for any newer versions of Windows (it has been replaced by newer products like Windows Live Messenger and Office Communicator). You can obtain more information about Windows Messenger from the Windows Messenger How-To Center on Microsoft’s web site.

Windows Messenger is fairly out-dated and does not have many of the features included in newer versions of MSN Messenger/Windows Live Messenger (see this Microsoft document for some details). It can still can be useful (or even necessary) for some things. It is especially handy because it works alongside MSN Messenger/Windows Live Messenger and is not affected by their installations. If Windows Live Messenger is broken or unable to connect you can use Windows Messenger as a backup. Windows Live Messenger also cannot connect to SIP communication services or Exchange instant messaging.

You can download the installer for Windows Messenger 5.1.0701 from here.

When you run the “Messenger.msi” installation file under Windows Vista or Windows 7 it fails partway through the installation process, reporting that the installation was interrupted. The problem is caused by a compatibility issue between the MSI package and UAC. You cannot simply adjust compatibility modes or elevated privileges for standalone MSI packages like you can for setup executables because they are handled by the Windows Installer service.

To get it to install properly, open an elevated command prompt (right click the “Command Prompt” shortcut under the start menu and select “Run as Administrator”). From the administrative command prompt enter the commands:

msiexec /a <path>
msiexec /i <path>

Where <path> is the location of the messenger.msi file. So if I saved it to my desktop, the commands would be:

msiexec /a C:\Users\Keith\Desktop\Messenger.msi
msiexec /i C:\Users\Keith\Desktop\Messenger.msi

The installation will run and should be able to complete successfully.


How to Remove a Network Driver that Locks Up Device Manager When You Attempt to Uninstall It

August 20, 2010

A typical fix for networking issues in Windows XP is to uninstall the device in Device Manager and then have Windows reinstall it by selecting “Scan for Hardware Changes”. Under Windows Vista and Windows 7 the network troubleshooter will do this automatically if you choose to reset the network driver. I don’t know the exact reasoning, but I suspect it is because of the interaction with the NDIS miniport driver.

Sometimes there is a problem with the drivers and they simply will not uninstall. When you try to uninstall or disable the device, Device Manager will stop responding until the end of time (or until you end the task). You can re-open Device Manager and try as many times as you like, but the same thing will happen every time. Afterwards Windows will usually also hang during the shut down process and never complete it.

The broken driver most likely has an outstanding IRP request which it never completes or cancels.

When I was doing contractor work one of my clients was specifically having this problem with the Intel wireless drivers on a lot of their systems. The driver could not be updated or reinstalled with Intel’s installer either, as it would also stop responding.

The solution is to disable the driver’s service entry so that Windows does not load it at all, and it will no longer have any open IRP requests which prevent it from being removed.

The first step is to obtain the name of the driver’s service entry. You can do this easily if you open the device’s properties in Device Manager and select the “Details” tab (other tabs may cause Device Manager to stop responding if you click them, but Details will work). Select “Service” from the drop down list in the middle of the Details property page. If you can’t access the Details tab in Device Manager, you can also use the command: ‘sc query type= driver group= NDIS’ to display all of the network drivers on your system along with their service name and obtain it from there.

Once that’s done open the system Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and navigate to: ‘HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services’. Expand the ‘Services’ tree and look for a subkey underneath it with the driver service name we located in the step above. Select the driver service subkey and there will be a DWORD entry inside it named “Start”. Double click the “Start” entry and set it’s value to the number ‘4’ (decimal). Setting the value to 4 disables the service on startup.

After you reboot the system, the device should appear in Device Manager with a bang and you should have no problem uninstalling it.


File Copy Between Local Drives Hangs in Vista

July 25, 2010

Recently I have run into a strange issue on my Windows Vista machine. When copying movie files between my local hard drives the file copy process gets stuck and never completes.  The dialogs will remain there forever at the same spot unless you end the explorer.exe process which hosts them or use the Cancel button and then the close box (described further below).

There was a popular Vista file copy problem that was patched a long time ago related to copying from mapped network drives. The problem on my system occurs when copying between hard drives.

I have been trying to troubleshoot the issue and have found a workaround but no solution for the problem so far.

Details

The file copy or move process starts and hangs at a random point within the process. Some files are successfully copied or moved but the rest of the operation will never be completed. The file copy dialog is responsive and doesn’t lock up. It just get’s stuck and reads the same file, speed and time remaining until the explorer process ends. If you hit the “Cancel” button on the file copy dialog, it will remain stuck on the “Cancelling…” operation.

If you check the destination there may be files copied or many not be, depending on how far it got before it gets stuck. If you try to perform another file copy after, it will also get stuck. Often a problem will reoccur with the same file if you just try to copy it again afterward. If you try to delete those files afterwards that may also get stuck.

Vista also usually has a thread I/O request timeout error that occurs when a file copy gets stuck, but for some reason it doesn’t appear when this issue occurs and the copy dialog will remain until the explorer.exe process ends or it is cancelled and then closed.

Troubleshooting

When you check the explorer.exe process under task manager, there is no significant change in I/O reads or writes after it gets stuck. It’s committed memory size and number of page faults do not significantly change either.

At first I thought it may be a problem with the hard drives. I ran a full chkdsk /r (locate bad sectors and attempt recovery) on all my drives and there were no problems found at all.

I had a similar problem when Vista first came out with Symantec Antivirus severely slowing my network file copies because it was scanning huge RAR and ISO files. I tried stopping the Microsoft Security Essentials service and turning off real time protection, but it didn’t affect the issue at all.

I also tried stopping the Windows Search service in case they may be attempting to index the file (and perhaps a bad iFilter) was causing the stall. But there also was no effect on the issue.

Since I often had the problem while copying video files, I thought it could possibly be Explorer’s thumbnail generator causing the stall (maybe in combination with a bad DirectShow Filter). Usually when there’s a problem with a DS filter it ends up crashing the app it is running in but I have seen other things happen, like a splitter causing Windows Live Photo Gallery to stall on the first frame of video. I unregistered (regsvr32 /u) most of the DirectShow components I had installed except for a basic few (DivX, ffdshow, XVid,  Ogg DS) which I also made sure were up to date. I tried disabling explorer’s thumbnail generator (by unchecking “Always Show Icons, Never Thumbnails” in the Advanced Folder options), but there was no effect on the problem.

I will have to do some further investigating with Process Explorer when I have some more time this week. For now I haven’t found the cause, just a way to work around the issue.

Workaround

I tried performing the copy operation from an Administrative command prompt and found that you could successfully copy the files without any problem using the “copy” command. Even while 3 or 4 hung explorer file copy windows are present and supposedly copying the same file.

Strangely, using the “move” command has the same problem as explorer and will just hang until you break out of it with CTRL-C. I don’t know why “move” has trouble because you can use manually use the “copy” command to copy the files and then “del” to delete them afterwards without any problems.

You can also cancel the hung file copy dialogs by pressing the “Cancel” button and then the close button on the dialog afterwards. Just hitting cancel will not work. Sometimes explorer will maintain a lock on the file it was stuck on (preventing you from moving or deleting the file) even after you have cancelled the copy dialog. You have to kill the explorer.exe process from Task Manager and restart it to remove the file lock.


Entering Non-Printable ASCII Characters Into Text Files Under Windows (With MS-DOS Editor)

June 24, 2010

When editing a text file in Windows it is sometimes necessary to embed special non-printable ASCII control characters into the text. This is quite difficult in modern Windows versions. Windows does not allow any way to enter codes below code 032 (space) into standard text fields. Newer NT based versions of Windows also use UNICODE strings internally, which does not support lower ASCII control codes.

Notepad supports entering some of the character codes using ALT key codes. You hold down the ALT key and enter in the three digit ASCII code for the character on the numeric keypad. Number Lock must be turned on and you have to enter the numeric code on the numeric keypad (it will not work using the regular number keys). For example, to enter in a carriage return you can use ALT+013 or to enter in a line feed character, you can use ALT+010. Notepad allows a few ASCII control codes to be entered this way, but you cannot use all of them.

The best way that I’ve found is to use the MS-DOS Editor program (edit.com). MS-DOS Editor is still included with all 32-bit version of Windows. You can open it by entering ‘edit’ in the run box or command prompt.

In MS-DOS Edit you can use CTRL-P and then enter an ASCII control code which will be embedded into the text file. You can enter the code as an ALT key code or an ASCII control code,  a list of ASCII control codes is available here. So to enter the Form Feed character for example, you would press CTRL-P and then CTRL-L (or CTRL-P and ALT+012). It will place a symbol in the editor to represent the non-printable ASCII character. When you save the file in the MS-DOS Editor it will save the embedded character codes in the text file.

Once the file is saved you can re-open it in a Windows editor which supports ASCII text files like Notepad or ConTEXT. The symbol will be displayed in the editor and you can copy and paste it into other text files to embed the control code into them.

Be warned that many Windows programs and text boxes may attempt to convert the character code into something else when you copy and paste it (I believe it may have to do with Windows converting it to UNICODE). For example, when I copied the form feed (code 12) character directly from a console running DOS Edit, it pasted into other Windows applications as “?” (code 63). Notepad even displayed a similar character to the one in DOS Edit but it still was as a different character (not code 12) when I checked. Also, when I copied the character from a file opened in ConTEXT, it pasted into Notepad properly (as code 12), but pasted into the Visual Studio IDE as “?” (code 63).


Installing Windows Live Suite 2010 Wave 4 Beta

June 17, 2010

The beta release of the next Windows Live suite of applications has been leaked to the internet and is available for download. It can be installed on a regular system with no issues, but there are problems with the login process. The wave 4 applications detect that your Windows Live account is not part of the wave 4 beta program and will prevent you from logging in unless you sign up for the “dogfood” program (Microsoft employees only!). There are patches available to get most of the wave 4 applications to login with a regular account. A public beta of the suite will hopefully be available soon.

You can download a good torrent with the installer and required patches here.

The Windows Live Essentials installer is about 126MB and works offline (doesn’t download any components). The installer includes the following Windows Live applications: Windows Live ID, Windows Live Messenger (15.2.2583.119), Windows Live Call (part of messenger), Windows Live Mail (15.2.2583.119), Windows Live Contacts (part of Windows Live Mail), Windows Live Companion (15.2.2583.119), Windows Live Writer (15.2.2583.119), Windows Live Photo Gallery (15.2.2590.301), Windows Live Movie Maker, Windows Live Family Safety, Windows Live Sync, Microsoft Outlook Connector, Bing Bar (replaces the MSN Search Toolbar/Windows Live Toolbar). Windows Live SkyDrive has been integrated into the web interfaces for hosting photos and documents and also can now stream video.  Windows Live Mesh is still a separate beta but many of it’s features have been moved into Windows Live Sync. There may be other updates to the web based applications like Live Mail (Hotmail) and Spaces, but they are not available without a valid beta participation account.

Main Issues With the Wave 4 Beta

  • Windows Live Sync which requires a valid beta account and doesn’t run.
  • Windows Live Photo Gallery will work but cannot login to the network (also requires a valid account).
  • Windows Live Movie Maker requires an Aero compatible video card or it will not run at all.
  • Some of the applications crash at times (they are still beta!).

Overall, the applications run fairly well and perform decently. There are probably features that are still missing (like ribbon customization) but they are decent enough quality that they were released to Microsoft employees for testing.

 

Installing the Windows Live Essentials Wave 4 and Patches

  1. Extract the RAR archive from the torrent and run the Windows Live Essentials installer named “run this first.exe”. Select the components you would like and proceed through the installation process.
  2. Make sure that no Windows Live applications are running, if they are make sure you exit them.
  3. Open the XML file “then run this second.xml”, it will open up in Internet Explorer and the information bar will pop up and tell you it has blocked running active content on your computer (picture).
  4. Click the information bar and select the option to run the content. After the page reloads it should be installed.
  5. Finally, run the patch named “then run this patch lastly.exe” and install it.
  6. Restart your computer. After rebooting you should be able to use the new Windows Live betas!

(You do not have to worry about the Internet Explorer 9 tech preview installer that is also included in the archive)

New Features

The main feature is the new ribbon interface which has been added to Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Writer. Many of the apps have moved things to the ribbon or to new side panes. There are new view and sorting options for many applications.

The new social integration features (like FaceBook updates) have been integrated into Windows Live and there are better publishing options as well. Live Messenger now supports tabbed conversation windows (like Lotus Sametime) and a new Social Mode.

Windows Live Writer adds better account support and blog sites can provide links to services and extensions which are available in the editor. You can create custom manifest files which define features for other types of blog sites. Editing is much easier with the options on the ribbon (rather than under menus) and plugin features are more accessible. You can also configure advanced permissions for posts like allowing comments and pings from the editor.

Windows Live Photo Gallery adds GeoTags (location tags) and many additional photo editing tools. The ribbon also makes working with tags and other meta data much easier.

Other Notes

  • Windows Live Mail is prone to crashes when switching between the shortcuts (the lower right icons for Calendar, Contacts, Feeds…).
  • Various Windows Live Writer plugins may cause it to crash, but most of them have no problem. Unfortunately there is no published command line option for running Live Writer without plug-ins so you can use the GUI to manage them. You will have to manually remove the offending plugin from the “C:\Program Files\Windows Live Writer\Plugins” folder. If they are in another location they may be COM objects and you should run their uninstall program to unregister them (or use “regsvr32 /u <DLL FILE NAME>” to do it manually).
  • All of the tested Windows Live Photo Gallery plug-ins worked properly.
  • A-Patch is an application which patches Live Messenger to remove adds and change other features like nudge delay and maximum file transfers. There is no version of a-patch which will patch the beta version of Live Messenger yet.
  • Microsoft beta’s often do not update automatically to the full release and may require you manually uninstall the beta from Programs and Features (appwiz.cpl) before you can install the release version (when it comes out).

Conclusion

The new Windows Live beta applications are pretty nice and I personally like the new versions enough that I will use them instead of the old versions on my systems. This post was written and published in the beta Windows Live Writer.

I would not recommend installing it for every user, especially with the sign-in issue and possible crashes. Some of the earlier Windows Live betas (like the first Windows Live releases, and wave 3) were good enough that the betas could be installed for most users. I don’t feel this release is good enough quality yet.


Visual Basic 6.0: Docking a Child Form Inside a Parent Form With SetParent.

June 10, 2010

This is a quick and easy example of how to dock the contents from a child form into a parent form.

You can see Window docking functionality in the Visual Basic 6.0 IDE if you drag a floating tool window (like the ToolBox, Project Explorer, Properties Editor, or Immediate) to one of the edges of the IDE. The window will snap to the edge and become docked with the main IDE window.

It’s actually very easy to place the contents from one form or container control into another one.

To start, create a new “Standard EXE” project in Visual Basic 6.0. Add a new standard Form (which will be the parent) and create a new PictureBox control on it. Set the Align property of the PictureBox to any direction (vbAlignTop, vbAlignBottom, vbAlignLeft, or vbAlignRight) so that it automatically negotiates and snaps to the edge of the form. Then create another standard form (which will be the child) and with whatever controls you’d like on it.

We will use the following API declarations:

Public Declare Function SetParent Lib "user32" (ByVal hWndChild As Long, ByVal hWndNewParent As Long) As Long
Public Declare Function GetParent Lib "user32" (ByVal hwnd As Long) As Long

These can be declared either as public within a shared module, or as private within any forms that call them. If you include the Windows API Type Library as a reference in your project, they will be automatically declared.

GetParent allows us to obtain the handle of an object’s parent. SetParent allows us to change an object’s parent container. Both functions take the hWnd of a form or control as input. GetParent takes the hWnd of the child container and returns the hWnd of it’s current parent. SetParent takes the hWnd of the child container as the first parameter and the hWnd of the new parent container as the second parameter, then returns the hWnd of the previous  parent on success.

Placing the contents of “Form2” into the “PictureBox1” control on “Form1” it is as easy as:

Call SetParent(Form2.hWnd, Form1.PictureBox1.hWnd)

Add this to the Form_Load event of your parent form along with a line to make the child form visible (either Form2.Show or Form2.Visible = True). You should see the form appear inside the picture box on the parent form.

Of course there is still a lot to be done before the window will work like it does in the Visual Basic IDE. You can move the child window around within the PictureBox and change it’s state. You cannot resize the picture box that contains the form by grabbing it’s edge. You also cannot drag the child form back out of the dock or to another side. All of this functionality will have to be coded and can be done in a few different ways.

I may discuss some of them in another post. This one is just a basic example which should give you an idea of how to get started.


Installing the Link Layer Topology Discovery (LLTD) Responder on Windows Server 2003

June 6, 2010

Under Windows Vista and higher it is possible to view a graphical map of your network by clicking “View Full Map” in the Network and Sharing Center or by using the command “explorer.exe ::{21ec2020-3aea-1069-a2dd-08002b30309d}\::{E7DE9B1A-7533-4556-9484-B26FB486475E}”. To build the network map, Windows queries each system on the network using the Link Layer Topology Discovery (LLTD) protocol.

The LLTD protocol was introduced in Vista. Unfortunately, older versions of Windows (like XP and Server 2003) that don’t have the LLTD protocol installed will not respond to network map requests, and will not show up at all on the network map display. Microsoft has provided the Link Layer Topology Discovery (LLTD) Responder (KB922120) update package which can be installed on Windows XP systems to have them show up properly under the network map. Microsoft did not release a version of the LLTD responder for Windows Server 2003. The XP release of the LLTD Responder will work fine on Windows Server 2003, but you have to install it manually.

First you will need to download the “Link Layer Topology Discovery (LLTD) Responder (KB922120)” update package for Windows XP (WindowsXP-KB922120-v5-x86-ENU.exe).

Extract the contents of the installer package using the –x switch (WindowsXP-KB922120-v5-x86-ENU.exe -x). It will ask you for a location and extract it’s contents there.

Inside the directory where the package was extracted there will be a “SP2QFE” subdirectory which contains the files we need to copy:

  1. Copy the “rspndr.exe” file from the SP2QFE subdirectory into the “%SystemRoot%\system32” directory.
  2. Copy the “rspndr.sys” file from the “SP2QFE” subdirectory to the “%SystemRoot%\system32\drivers” directory.
  3. Copy the “rspndr.adm” and “rspndr.inf” files inside the “SP2QFE\IP” subdirectory into the “%SystemRoot%\INF” directory.

After the files are copied, run the command “rspndr –i” to install the driver’s entries in the system registry and start it (net start rspndr).

There should now be a new protocol entry for “Link-Layer Topology Discovery Responder” under your network adapter’s properties, and your Windows Server machine should show up on the network map.