Sunday, April 26, 2015

Virtual Windows 8 ... Sort of.

OK, I know there are people there that love Windows 8, and those that don't really like it.  I am not going to debate that here, but lets say, I need to advance with the times because of my job and will use Windows 8, and try to get the most out of it

Having said that, I work with servers, so my main system is Windows 2012.  Now on first look Windows 2012 looks a lot like Windows 8, so why cannot my Windows 2012 system also be my Windows 8 system.  Now I don't want a completely transformed OS, but try to get the best of both worlds.  So here are the things that I did to my system and hopefully guide you on your transformation.  And for why I did this, I can say only 1 thing: I want to play Halo: Spartan Strike on my computer along with my phone.

Add the Desktop Experience

This is a straight forward process, just adding a feature called 'Desktop Experience'  If you need directions on how to add this web site has it.

Please remember in order you use the Windows App store, you need a Microsoft account, and your logon account cannot be administrator.

Install Halo: Spartan Strike

Go to the Windows store and install it.  Now this application is not free, and for some reason I could not purchase it within the application store, but I used my phone to purchase because it is a single purchase for phone and desktop, so once that was done, it installed fine on Windows 2012

Issue with running app and Xinput1_4.dll

Halo: Spartan Strike installed, but when it ran I was getting an Xinput1_4.dll error, and it bombed out.  I found better description of the error here, and then another page that comes with files and an install script

The script is straight forward and comes with 6 files.  Now I normally don't trust these files especially since they are not signed, and I didn't want to expose my system to any unscrupulous files, so I built a Virtual Windows 8, and extracted the same files to install into my 2012 system.  I did compare my files to the downloaded files, and they were same on the binary level, but better safe than sorry.

Once those files were added the program worked fine, and I am hoping that all other DirectX games will also behave as well.

Issue with keyboard - Halo: Spartan Strike

Now the program is running but for some reason, the mouse works, but the keyboard does not.  For me fixing that is a simple solution.  My system has PS/2 keyboard and mouse, so I just add my  USB wireless Logitech K400 keyboard, now the game works!!!

Better Gaming experience - Xbox 360 Game controller

I have a working game, but using the keyboard is a little kludgey because the key choices are chosen and you cannot change them, also with the AWSD to move, it is a little choppy.

So I picked up a used Rock Candy controller.  It plugged in fine, but didn't work.  Went to the vendor's web site, and they state the controller is for Xbox 360, so there are no drivers for windows.

Well not being discourage, went looking for a driver for a Microsoft Xbox 360 drivers from Microsoft and found them here.

Installed the driver, rebooted, and the controller worked fine. It plays like a dream and now I can spend all of my time killing the Covenant!!

I hope my work will enable you to play this game with Windows 2012, and your system primed to play other games from Windows Store.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Getting Windows 8 or 2012 to work as a guest under vSphere 4.1

There have been other blogs and kbase articles that define how to get Windows 8/8.1 or Windows 2012 / 2012 R2 running under vSphere 4.1.  I plan to to offer you a complete document with references

For the guest configuration, I would choose the following:

Windows 2012 / 2012 R2
Guest OS: Windows 2008 R2
vCPU: 2
vMemory: 2GB
Network Card:  E1000

Windows 8 / 8.1
Guest OS: Windows 7 (32 or 64 to match your media)
vCPU: 2, but 1 should work
vMemory:     1GB, but 2 would be better
Network Card:    E1000

After you build the OS, but before the OS is installed the VMX file needs to be modified, so use the vSphere client to do these steps
  1. Browse to the datastore where the VMX files is located
  2. Download the VMX file to your windows system
  3. Edit the file with a Linux compatible editor like Notepad++ and add the following lines:
    1. bios440.filename = bios.440.rom
      mce.enable = "TRUE"
      cpuid.hypervisor.v0 = "FALSE"
      vmGenCounter.enable = "FALSE
Then upload the updated VMX file and the bios ROM file from this location.  If you feel a little unsure about using a random file acquired from the internet there are directions on how to extract the file from VMware Player.  I have not done this yet, but trust the ROM file that is the VMware community

Next just install the OS as normal, it should work fine, no BSOD.

Now what I have not seen is anything on VMware tools, and from what it looks like any version of the VMware tools that come with 4.1 will corrupt the video and make  it unusable, so when installing VMware tools, use the OSP version.

Here is the root location of all the tools:
Here is the version that I have used successfully:
But guessing the latest which is for vSphere 6 would also work:
If you want read more about OSP tools, this page is useful.

Good luck with your Window 8 / 2012 builds!!