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32 bit programs working on 64 bit Vista or Windows 7

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Greetings everyone,

as some of you may well have found out, none of the Meade DSI cameras work with 64 bit operating systems. This is very annoying as more and more PCs are now being supplied with 64 bit systems, and many people have gone back to using 32 bit operating systems because of software incompatibility issues with many astro related programs. 32 bit operating sytems can only use up to around 3.25GB of memory whereas 64 bit operating systems can use much more, and many new PCs come with 4GB of memory or more.

I've been operating Vista 64 on my main PC since its launch and most manufacturers have written 64 bit software for their peripherals. However, astro imaging manufacturers on the whole seem a little slow to keep up with the change in technology, and for that reason I've been using XP on my laptop for all my astro imaging software.

My old laptop recently died so I bought a new one with Windows 7 Premium 64 bit. I tried installing many of my existing astro imaging software programs and most wouldn't work. I managed to get some to work, and changed some programs altogether. For example, I couldn't get QCFocus to work with my webcam so I installed Craterlet which I had some success with. However, no matter what I did I could not get my DSI to work. I then decided to partition my hard drive and install XP so I could dual-boot the laptop and load all my astro related software on the XP portion. No such luck as Dell has not released XP drivers for that laptop yet, so every time I tried to install XP I kept getting the blue screen of death.

I later found out that Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate are designed to work with a Microsoft virtual PC that has to be downloaded from its site. You can not use Microsoft's virtual PC with my Premium version. Anyway, if you're unsure what a virtual PC is then I'll try and explain. You install a virtual PC program onto your existing operating system just as you would any other program. Using the program you then install whatever other operating system you want to and run that operating system from your desktop. You can then install whatever programs you want on your additional operating system and they will run as they would normally on that operating system.

Rather than spending more money on upgrading to Professional or Ultimate I looked online and found a free program called VMware. Below is a link that will take you to the download;-

VMware Player 3.0

Simply download the program, wait for the registration e-mail (takes a few minutes), install it and when prompted put in your operating system CD ( I used Windows XP Home). The program will ask you how much hard drive space you want to donate to your additional operating system. I chose 60GB but you could use far less. A window appears on your desktop and you'll see your additional operating system install within it.

So for me, I can run XP in a window from Windows 7 just like any other program. I have an icon to launch it from my desktop. I can minimise XP at any time to do something on Windows 7, and then go back into XP - it is so easy. All my programs have installed perfectly, including my DSI II and I'm so happy as it's far better than messing around with a dual boot system. When I'm in my XP window it sees the 60GB I allocated it as its C drive and I use it as I would a computer with XP installed on a 60GB hard drive.

You no longer have to settle for 32 bit operating systems, you can have the best of both worlds. If you've got any questions then feel free to ask but if I can do it then it must be easy!

Thanks for reading and I hope this is of help.



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I've also used Suns VirtualBox (VirtualBox) successfully in the past (although I've not tested low level software like webcam capture). Microsofts Virtual PC also needs hyperthreading support on the processor to implement the virtual machine. Not all processors have this though.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just to further clarify this issue.

Windows 7 Ultimate and Professional come with the ability to implement XP Mode, which uses Microsoft's Virtual PC as stated. You do not need Windows 7 to use Virtual PC though, it's a free download and can be used on any Windows OS. What XP Mode in Windows 7 gives you though is a single user licence for XP so that you don't need a copy of XP to install or licence separately. It also allows USB attached devices to be seen by the virtual PC. Most virtual PC software can't see 'host' USB devices. Sun's VirtualBox can see host USB ports but you will need to provide a copy of whatever OS you want to install in your 'virtual PC'.

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