Monday, February 15, 2010

Dual Monitor Full Screen Mode

image At work I have two monitors.  I run remote desktop sessions in full screen on the secondary display.

If you’ve been following along, then you know that last Thursday and Friday I had to work form home because of weather that I simply refuse to drive in.  The butterflies were behaving.  I think.

When working from home I have to conform to corporate security protocol which doesn’t allow anything but XP on the corporate network.  I have Windows 7 at home so I run XP in a virtual machine that is in the corporate domain.  A computer has to be a member of  the domain to have remote access.  Only XP machines are given membership. 

It’s convoluted.  I created a virtual machine, copied the machine’s virtual hard disk to a thumb drive and took it to work.  I ran the virtual machine at work and made it part of the domain.  Then I took the virtual hard disk back home.  I could probably get in trouble for telling you that, but I don’t think anyone that reads this knows where I work :).

On Thursday, I setup my computer at home to use two monitors.  I wish I had taken a picture but I didn’t.  I have a 24” wide screen and a 21” square monitor.  1900x1200 and 1600x1200 respectively.  I added the smaller monitor to aid in my ailing productivity.

Anyway, much to my chagrin, the Virtual PC 2007 software from Microsoft doesn’t behave well in full screen mode with dual displays.  If you can imagine two monitors sitting next to each other.  On one monitor I have my virtual XP PC running.  On the other monitor I have my Win 7 desktop.  Every time I’d try to access a program on the Win 7 desktop, things would go nuts.  The virtual XP display would minimize, then resize, then flicker a bit then come back in some funky resolution with left and right margins.

Anyway, I probably spent too long trying to rectify the problem before discovering a hotfix form Microsoft.  In its list of improvements and issues, it didn’t explicitly mention my particular problem, but it did mention some stuff about video.  Anyway, it fixed my problems.  All of them.  So if you frequently run Virtual PC 2007 in full screen mode and you run with dual displays or you like to Right-Alt Enter out of it to run other applications, I would highly recommend this patch.  It’ll make your life easier.

Before all the technologically adept people chime in about using VMWare, I must say that I prefer VMWare, but the version I had quit working on Win 7 64Bit.  They said it was a known issue and I can’t remember the details, but at the time there was no fix for it.  Currently VMWare always gives me an error when it tries to launch the virtual machine.  At some point I’ll go back to it and see if they have an updated version and a way for me to convert my Virtual PC to VMWare although I suspect it’ll take some hackerrific manipulation of some disk images and restoration and I may not feel that it’s worth the pain.

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