Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Foundation of Windows 7 and Windows 8 Application Compatibility - Shims

Earlier today, I tried to launch the installer for the SolarWinds Orion Network Atlas tool (for SolarWinds Orion NPM) on my Windows 8 computer and was presented with the following message: image

The message says “SolarWinds Orion Network Atlas requires Windows XP/2003/2008/Vista/7 to run.” Believe it or not, this is extremely easy to work around.

  1. Right-click the installer and choose properties.
  2. From the Compatibility tab, enable compatibility mode for Windows 7 and choose to run the installer as an administrator. Click Apply, then OK.
    image
  3. Launch the installer, and it will proceed as normal.image

The Orion Network Atlas app is not the only one that I have used shims for. For those that require the Cisco Agent (for their Cisco desk phones), you can use this same process for installing the software on your own Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer. Just keep in mind that installing software on un-supported OSes could be a violation of your license or support agreements.

So you may be asking, “How\why does this work?” Using the application compatibility infrastructure built into the Windows OS, a “shim” is applied to the application file when it is executed. In this case, we shimmed the application to force it to think that it is running on a Windows 7 computer.

You would be surprised as just how many desktop application issues are resolved by using shims. Shims are one of the basic foundations of intermediate and\or advanced application troubleshooting and is covered heavily in the Windows Desktop cert exams and books. In my opinion, if a 1st or 2nd level I.T. technician (such as Help Desk or Desktop Support) doesn’t know anything about app compatibility or shims, they need more training.

For some incredibly detailed information on how shims work in Windows, see the following Technet article: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd837644(v=ws.10).aspx. Otherwise, keep this one in your knowledge bank!

- Joe