Windows Vista Compatibility

Because we have always designed our software to be as robust and undemanding as possible (schools are a harsh environment), our titles continue to run on all Windows versions from 95 up to and including Vista.

However, Vista has introduced a few hazards mostly resulting from its attempts to tighten up Windows security issues. These hazards appear courtesy of a system introduced in Vista called UAC (User Account Control). Of course, the easiest way to avoid the issues is to just turn off UAC in the Control Panel. You may elect to do that in your installation if contamination from rogue software/users/internet is not an issue. Otherwise, you might like to read on in order to understand how UAC impacts Greygum titles.

Firstly, UAC enforces access permissions on files and folders. How you set up permissions on your systems is entirely up to you, but you'll need to ensure that all of your potential users have the appropriate permissions to execute the program, read the data files, and (in many cases) write configuration and saved-game files. To do that, you'll need to know in which folders the software and files are installed, so that you can apply permissions to those folders if necessary. If you're not sure where things are installed, the title list below indicates the default installation path for each of our titles. Obviously, this is not foolproof, as the person who originally installed the software may have chosen to install somewhere other than the default. But it's a good place to start.

Managing access permissions is not a recommended activity for the novice. Alterations should be made by IT staff wherever possible.

Secondly, UAC introduces a feature to stop users writing data (configurations, saved-game files etc) in the Program Files folder. Unfortunately, many software packages, including some Greygum titles, are designed to write data to the folder in which they are installed.

Vista gets around this by allowing the data to be written to a virtual Program Files folder. This happens transparently, so that neither the program nor the user is aware that the data has been written to an entirely separate folder. Everything just works.

The problem is that there is a separate virtual Program Files folder for each user on the system, whereas before UAC the one real Program Files folder was visible to all users.

So if you set up a configuration for your class, your students won't see the new configuration because it only exists in "your" virtual Program Files folder, not theirs.

The easiest way to get around this when registering the software or changing the configuration (Teacher Options), is to right-click the icon or shortcut for the program, and choose "Run as Administrator" from the context menu. You will be asked for the administrator password. Then your registration or configuration changes will be written to the real Program Files folder and apply to all users of the software - not just you.

(If you register the software as you are installing it, you don't need to "Run as Administrator" as you are already in that mode courtesy of SETUP.EXE).

Similarly when students are using the software, recordings of their progress or saved games are stored in their personal virtual Program Files folder. This is acceptable in a single-user installation, but most Greygum titles are designed to store all student data in the same place so the teacher has better control.

Note 1.

The issue usually doesn't arise in older Greygum titles because by default they install to C:\GREYGUM rather than C:\Program Files. If you accept that default, and you allow your users the appropriate access permissions to that folder, you will neatly avoid the virtual Program Files issues.

Note 2.

Some later titles default to C:\Program Files but include teacher options to locate the configuration/saved-game files elsewhere. Make sure you "Run as Administrator" when you change the location, so that the change applies to all users.

Note 3.

Other later titles also allow the configuration/saved-game files to be re-located, but as the default installation folder is C:\GREYGUM, the virtual Program Files issue is not (an issue).

Note 4.

Most recent titles default to C:\Program Files for the program, and C:\GREYGUM for the configuration/saved-game files. This very neatly avoids the virtual Program Files issue. Subsequent re-location of data is also allowed. Use "Run as Administrator" when you do this.

Note 5.

Thirdly, when you mount the CD to install a Greygum title, you may get an "Autoplay" alert. This is to tell you that the CD is asking to run a program directly (usually AUTORUN.EXE or SETUP.EXE) and that the publisher is unknown (to Microsoft). You should indicate that you will allow this program to run - unless of course you decide not to proceed with the installation. If you find this alert really annoying, you can prohibit it in the Autoplay Control Panel.

Note 6.

Fourthly, you may then get an alert from UAC saying that an unidentified program wants to access your computer (SETUP.EXE). This is because SETUP.EXE needs administrator-level access in order to install software, and UAC is understandably nervous about granting that because of the damage that rogue software can cause. However, this check is designed primarily for software that has come from the internet, which may indeed be malicious. If you're installing from a CD, you obviously trust the source. So you should indicate that you want to allow the program to proceed.

Note 7.

Fifthly, in their infinite wisdom Microsoft have discontinued the venerable winhlp32.exe program which displays help files. Oddly, they continue to support the even more venerable winhelp.exe which was designed for Windows 3.1 and Window 95 16-bit software. Fortunately, most Greygum titles use other help file systems, but for the few that rely on winhlp32, you can download it from Microsoft's website, or else refer to our comprehensive printed manuals.
Quote from the Microsoft Help and Support page - Users who want to view 32-bit .hlp files in Windows Vista or in a future Windows release must now download WinHlp32.exe from the Microsoft Download Center, and then install it on their computers. To do this, users should visit the following Microsoft Web site:

Greygum Titles Compatibility Notes

  • PM Story Books Software (Red, Yellow, Blue Green)

  • Note 1, Note 5, Note 6.
  • Maths Circus (Acts 3,4,5)

  • Note 1, Note 5, Note 6, Note 7.
  • Goldfields

  • Note 2, Note 5, Note 6.
  • Kraken

  • Note 1, Note 5, Note 6.
  • You may also get a "Program Compatibility Assistant" alert. Choose to ignore it.
  • Spinout Stories (Red Pack, Blue Pack)

  • Note 3, Note 5, Note 6, Note 7..
  • PM Maths Stage A

  • Note 3, Note 5, Note 6.
  • The Land of UM

  • Note 4, Note 5, Note 6.
  • Fitzroy Readers

  • Note 1, Note 5, Note 6.
  • PM Gems (Magenta, Red, Yellow, Blue, Green)

  • Note 4, Note 5, Note 6.