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Windows 7 - XP Mode runs DOS applications very slowly, in app virtualization mode

    Question

  • Hi Guys. This is a question that I doubt many can shed light on, but here we go.

    I am currently trialling the RC1 release of Windows 7, and as part of my testing have set up and am trying out the XP Mode virtualisation. Despite much of the negative feedback, I think it works quite well for it's primary purpose of seamlessly virtualising legacy apps for businesses.

    We have an unusual use for this software though - not to run legacy Windows apps, but rather to run some old DOS apps we still use that work in Windows XP, and no higher.

    I have been able to get our DOS apps to virtualise and run in this way, but they are desperately slow when running in virtual application mode. They function in every way I want them to, but if I type a line of text inside one of these apps, it will take 10 seconds to slowly appear. We are trying virtualise 2 DOS apps - WordStar & dBase. Please, no comments about why we are still having to run these dinosaurs, it is far too long a story!

    Interestingly, if I load up the virtual machine fully in Windows 7 (not in application mode) and run these DOS applications, they work flawlessly. So I would assume there must be a bug somewhere in the seamless virtualised application layer, or indeed the way apps are called up individually through the RDP protocol.

    Either way, I've looked at every single option I can think of, and just wondered if anyone has come up with a work around? I'm going to try and make Microsoft aware of this problem, although as they want so dearly for DOS to be history (which granted, it largely is) I suspect they might not fix this.

    Any thoughts gratefully received.....
    Sunday, May 31, 2009 5:26 PM

Answers

  • Try this. With your application running in virtual application mode in focus press ctrl + alt + end. You will see a window shows up. Press "task manager" button there. When task manager comes up search for ntvdm.exe in processes. Right click on it and change its priority to low. And see if the application becomes more responsive now.

    • Marked as answer by nibblesoft Thursday, July 02, 2009 10:01 PM
    Thursday, June 04, 2009 11:25 AM
  • Thanks - setting ntvdm to low priority worked here for WordStar 7 DOS under 7100 x64.  Keyboard response is now acceptable.
    • Marked as answer by nibblesoft Thursday, July 02, 2009 5:06 PM
    Wednesday, July 01, 2009 3:36 PM

All replies

  • I recommend filing a formal bug report by doing entering the following case sensitive command at a command prompt:

    rundll32.exe FeedbackTool.dll,ShowWizard

    Formal bug reports are the best hope for any action to be taken.

     

    Sunday, May 31, 2009 6:57 PM
  • I would recommend trying out a free app called DosBox. It will run pretty much any old DOS software you need and it will do it at real-time speed, depending on your hardware of course. It is much lighter on resources than Virtual PC because it is only emulating DOS and some specific hardware. I have run both WordStar and dBase without issue on it, among other things. I believe it would suit your needs much more than a full fledged VM solution like Virtual PC.
    Sunday, May 31, 2009 9:04 PM
  • I would recommend trying out a free app called DosBox
    Does DosBox support network connections and applications using file and record locking? Everytime I look at DosBox it's all about running old games and doesn't really talk about networking other than to try and set up multi-player games. Can you map a drive letter using NET USE (or something equivalent)?
    SBussinger
    Sunday, May 31, 2009 10:11 PM
  • not to run legacy Windows apps, but rather to run some old DOS apps we still use
    I'm in a similar situation, but in my case it's running a DOS applications on an x64 system where DOS support has been removed by Microsoft.

    It's odd, I saw the same extremely slow performance that you mention on the first test system I set up with XP Mode. But on my latest test system, the performance of the DOS application is fine. In both cases, as you found, the performance in a full machine mode was fine and the slow down only occured in seamless application mode (and only on the one machine). I didn't knowingly do anything different on the two Win7 machines, but the results were dramatically different. I no longer have the original test machine to do any comparisons against (it was the same hardware for both tests).

    As a test, I ran a copy of Wordstar 6 as a seamless application on my newer test system. I didn't try printing anything, but screen performance was reasonably good. There was a bit of a lag in some places and some studdering while typing but not too bad.

    So you might try setting up another test system for comparison and see if it acts any differently on another system.
    SBussinger
    Sunday, May 31, 2009 10:26 PM
  • Hi all.

    Sorry for the delay in replying - frustratingly I've been getting all your messages by email, but this site seems to have timed out for me until now. I don't know whether it was an issue localised to the UK (as you've all been able to access it, obviously!).

    Many thanks for your input. John Paul, I will take your useful advice and file a bug report with Microsoft through this method. In the earlier beta versions of Windows 7 filing a bug seemed easy through the GUI, but I couldn't find the means to do it in RC1. So that has answered the question - I'll try it later.

    Phobox - thanks for you suggestion. I've used DosBox extensively, but for this purpose I found it to be nothing but problematic. There were graphic rendering issues with WordStar 7 in particular, and the speed problems were more severe than this issue with XP mode. I probably wasted about 20 hours in all with DosBox trying to get it to work for our needs, but unfortunately it never did for us. It could have been for a whole multitude of reasons unique to our setup, so I'm not saying DosBox is a bad product.

    sbussinger - this is very useful observation. It is interesting to know that you've experienced temporamental issues with a virtualised DOS application, seamingly randomly from one install to another. So far I have done 2 clean installs of RC1 on 2 different pieces of hardware, and had the same issue on both. Your expierence does give some hope, as this may be a glitch that MS will slowly iron out.

    I wonder if you guys could advise me on the use of this forum - one of the other posts has been accepted as the answer, but I didn't approve it (which is a bit concerning). On other forums I belong to (such as Experts Exchange), only the creater can say whether someone has answered the question or not. Is that not the case on here?

    Many thanks to you all for you input - it's most appreciated :D
    Monday, June 01, 2009 5:41 PM
  • Actually scrap that last query - I see that a moderated marked it as answered. I guess that's the way it works on here! Good to know Microsoft also confirm this method - thanks again, I'll be filing a report tonight.
    Monday, June 01, 2009 5:42 PM
  • Try this. With your application running in virtual application mode in focus press ctrl + alt + end. You will see a window shows up. Press "task manager" button there. When task manager comes up search for ntvdm.exe in processes. Right click on it and change its priority to low. And see if the application becomes more responsive now.

    • Marked as answer by nibblesoft Thursday, July 02, 2009 10:01 PM
    Thursday, June 04, 2009 11:25 AM
  • nibblesoft,

    I'm sorry to hear that your Windows 7 machine is running slow in dos applications.  I know how frustrating it can be when you're having issues with your system especially with the speed of your computer.  You might want to consult the Windows 7 forum at microsoft.com/springboard, there may some information about compatibility with your system, please keep in mind, if your system was stable before, and you have the Vista Drivers they will work with Windows 7, so you may want to revert to them.
    Thanks,

    v-glferg@microsoft.com

    Thursday, June 04, 2009 9:41 PM
  • Hey MSFT_GlenF

    Thanks for your post. In all honesty, I've very doubtful this is an issue relating to hardware compatbility. The system as a whole is running perfectly, and as you state this is achieved with the Vista x64 drivers available to me (which all work fine). I think this issue to do with DOS application performance under XP Mode is a wider issue with Virtual PC or the seamless application layer (achieved with RDP). A case in point is that I have the same issue on two different pieces of hardware that run Windows 7 flawlessly otherwise. I hope the software engineers at Microsoft will pick up on the DOS performance issues under XP Mode, and will be able to fix it. Feel free to pass this post there way! Thanks :)
    Thursday, June 04, 2009 11:51 PM
  • Thanks - setting ntvdm to low priority worked here for WordStar 7 DOS under 7100 x64.  Keyboard response is now acceptable.
    • Marked as answer by nibblesoft Thursday, July 02, 2009 5:06 PM
    Wednesday, July 01, 2009 3:36 PM
  • Dear Ferenc52,

    I am extremely grateful for you taking the time to come on here and post this. You have made me very happy! Your suggestions works a treat. I would have never thought of this, as it runs fine with a normal priority under full virtual machine mode, but only underperforms in seamless mode. Your suggestion was completely correct, and we now have dBase & WordStar running great. Thank you very much indeed. How did you figure this out?

    To benefit others who might see this post, I also had the challenge of making the process always runs with low priority, as when the app boots from fresh it inherits Windows default 'normal' setting. I looked at various commands I could run, which didn't prove to work in the context of the ntvdm. After a bit of hunting, I found this brilliant freeware utility that allows you to change the priority of executables permenantly. The utility can be downloaded here: http://www.prnwatch.com/prio.html With the ntvdm now set permenantly to 'low' priority, my applications now run seamlessly, at a wonderful pace. No one will even know they are virtulised.

    Once again - a big thanks, you've helped me out big time! :D

    Now lets see if MS actually fix this weird phenomon in the RTM of Windows 7 / XP Mode......
    • Proposed as answer by yorlik Tuesday, November 01, 2011 7:04 PM
    • Unproposed as answer by yorlik Tuesday, November 01, 2011 7:04 PM
    Thursday, July 02, 2009 5:05 PM
  • Thanks, but "Mayank," further up the thread deserves credit.  He first posted the tip, and I was thanking him.

    I haven't installed prio yet, but inspecting the installation, there's a daemon/service that adds TCP/IP monitoring functionality to TaskMgr.  I'm a bit leery of that.  I believe you can deselect this option in the install.
    Thursday, July 02, 2009 5:52 PM
  • You're quite right - sorry for not acknowledging you there Mayank. Sod's law would prevail, and the time you posted was the one time that I didn't get an email update on this forum (I've just checked back through my messages, and there is nothing on this one post!). I wish I had seen it a month ago when you so kindly posted your suggestion, which has indeed worked just as your said.

    Now with the Prio app locking the process priority at low, all is working perfectly. Thank you very much indeed for your correct and helpful response. Ferenc52 - thanks for thanking Mayank, as otherwise I would have not spotted this post. As for the TCP/IP monitoring you have mentioned in Prio, you can indeed eek this out, and just have the process priority fixing and nothing else.

    My gratitude for your help :D
    Thursday, July 02, 2009 10:01 PM

  • Dear Ferenc52,

    we now have dBase & WordStar running great. 

    HOW??  win7 64bit xp mode virtual won't run dbase IV here!  just goes from c:dbase   to c: in 1 sec - no program run!  help!

    dosbox does NOT support record locking and it is getting us in trouble here with missing records now....  need locking cfapable software.

     


    • Edited by yorlik Tuesday, November 01, 2011 7:06 PM
    Tuesday, November 01, 2011 7:05 PM
  • ANYONE? IDEAS? something to do with EMS, high memory?
    Friday, November 04, 2011 11:52 AM
  • FWIW....  i gave up on microsoft vm and setup free Oracle VM virtual box with xp loaded;  DBASE iv WORKS LIKE A CHAMP!!!!
    Friday, November 04, 2011 5:09 PM
  • You can also try using ExDOS. It's an emulator like DOSbox, but it's suited for business applications, not games. Should solve any performance issues, including high CPU usage and a lot more.

    http://www.exdos.com

    They have great support if you require it.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012 8:45 AM
  • I see that you wrote this 3 1/2 years ago, BUT I am now having the same problem only it is with a WindowsXP VM running under Windows 8 using Hyper-V.  I tried the lowering of priority for ntvdm.exe and it worked !    Is there a way to keep the priority low, or do I need to do this every time I start the DOS app.

    Thanks

    Friday, January 04, 2013 5:13 PM
  • MarcYounger posted the following on 2013.01.04:

    I see that you wrote this 3 1/2 years ago, BUT I am now having the same problem only it is with a WindowsXP VM running under Windows 8 using Hyper-V.  I tried the lowering of priority for ntvdm.exe and it worked !    Is there a way to keep the priority low, or do I need to do this every time I start the DOS app.

    Thanks

    Posted at the top of this forum:

    Use this forum to discuss Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode.

    Please do not use this forum to discuss Virtual Server 2005, or Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V technologies.

    The Windows 8 Visualization forum is located @ http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w8itprovirt/threads 

     

    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you, and to click “Unmark as Answer” if a marked post does not actually answer your question. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread. ”

    Friday, January 04, 2013 5:58 PM
  • Hello Rick -  I was not discussing Hyper-V.  I was exploring to see if he had found a permanent solution to his problem which seems very similar to mine.  I am searching for a way to keep priority low for ntvdm.exe    That (to me) seems perfectly suitable for this thread.  Marc
    Saturday, January 05, 2013 3:04 PM
  • Except that Virtual PC and XP Mode is entirely different visualization software.  Solutions for Virtual PC or XP Mode may not have any application in Hyper-V.  That may be why Microsoft opted to discourage discussion of Hyper-V in this forum.

    So, to get more relevant solutions where there is a higher concentration of participants that actually use Hyper-V it is more likely you will receive advise that is specifically applicable to Hyper-V in the Hyper-V forum.

    However, it is not my intent to confuse the subject with logic.


    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you, and to click “Unmark as Answer” if a marked post does not actually answer your question. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread. ”

    Saturday, January 05, 2013 4:13 PM