November 04, 2003

Let Us Now Curse Microsoft Windows

The Ten-Year-Old is trying to install SimIsle on our lone Windows computer--purchased because the Thirteen-Year-Old wanted to play Medieval Total War, and there was no Macintosh version.

It is throwing up a post-installation error message: something about WinG32.dll incorrectly installed in the "System" rather than in the "System32" directory.

Shouldn't an operating system smart enough to know that the WinG32.dll file is in the wrong directory also be smart enough to move, copy, or link it to the right directory? I mean, what's the problem requiring human-level attention here, anyway?

I don't like the lesson this machine is teaching the Ten-Year-Old: that when she tries to do simple things, they just don't work, and computers can only be understood and made to work by Big People like Dad.

The fact that this is an accurate lesson, at least as far as Windows machines are concerned, is beside the point.

Posted by DeLong at November 4, 2003 08:44 PM | TrackBack

Comments

It's not the operating system that's putting up the message. It's the WinG32.dll file (it contains code and was written by Microsoft, but is not part of the OS, it's part of the game developers SDK).

It's your game that installed in the wrong folder, so this is only Microsoft's fault in it the sense that they provided the game developers with a useful dll but didn't force them to use a MS designed installer.

Posted by: bones on November 4, 2003 10:37 PM

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It's a .dll -- a shared library, for you Unix/MacOSX folk. Why the *%$# should the OS -- much less any human being -- care where it's installed? As *long* as the dynamic linker (or whatver MS calls their implementation) can find it -- as it evidently can -- why should any human being have to waste brain cells over its precise location?

Why this meek acceptance of broken behaviour?

Posted by: Jacques Distler on November 4, 2003 11:43 PM

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I'd guess that the problem is with the code written by the game developers, as Windows, like UNIX, searches for DLLs using an environment variable to determine search order; the big limitation Windows has is that it doesn't use UNIX-style versioning of DLLs, so it's possible to overwrite a DLL with an incompatible newer (or even older) version.

If I were in Brad's shoes, I'd at least create a system restore point (this *is* a Windows XP machine, right?) before copying the DLL to the System directory, as one never knows what strangeness will come of interfering with that particular folder.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on November 5, 2003 02:40 AM

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As an administrator of M$ servers I would like to say, "Mmmmm, Job Security."

Posted by: Iain Babeu on November 5, 2003 06:35 AM

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I've been accused of Luddite tendencies for not giving up my use of Apple products. Okay, so maybe IT IS a "fancy lad" machine, but the darn thing works more often than not, especially OSX. You'll have to pry the non-left/right click mouse from my dead hands.

It is a hardship on my 10 year-old son, who misses out on the games Windoze kids get to play. But this is minimized to some degree by the many websites that have games online and the new Gameboy Advanced he has in his backpack...BTW, yes, Windoze is job security for IT departments everywhere.

To me, it's as if you have a type of door that won't shut right, so you hire guards (IT) to watch it for you (Windows). Another type of door works properly, but it costs more and may not fit every building (Mac).
I have an iMac at work and it is fiddled with once for every 5x a Dell box is worked on.

Great site you have here. Where's the coffee? 8-)

Posted by: the toe on November 5, 2003 07:10 AM

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the toe writes:
> I've been accused of Luddite tendencies for not giving up
> my use of Apple products. Okay, so maybe IT IS a "fancy
> lad" machine, but the darn thing works more often than
> not, especially OSX. You'll have to pry the non-left/right
> click mouse from my dead hands.

First of all, if anybody ever forces you to work with a 2-button mouse, it *will* work on a Mac. There could be an argument that a bright lime green iMac was a bit of a "fancy lad" box, but otherwise, I just don't see it.

While Brad DeLong's daughter was failing to install a simple game on a Windows box yesterday, I did a three-click/type my password install of all of Apple's *free* development tools on my box. While somebody was posting about DLL conflicts under Windows on their weblog, I was crunching through some matrices using Octave and installing an auto-detected security patch from the 'Net (and reading the Weblog, giggling to myself). It really doesn't occur to me these days to expect things to go wrong.

At our university, they just gave all Mac-using faculty and staff free upgrades to Panther, although it's primarily an MS shop. I couldn't figure out why until I thought about it from their perspective: the Mac people don't ever bother us for anything but the OS upgrades. Every Mac out there is a box that we won't generally have to care about.

Now that their job security is assured, there's no reason for them not to keep the work load down. Well, that's one theory anyway...

Posted by: Jonathan King on November 5, 2003 07:31 AM

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Abiola Lapite writes:

> If I were in Brad's shoes, I'd at least create a system
> restore point (this *is* a Windows XP machine, right?)
> before copying the DLL to the System directory, as one
> never knows what strangeness will come of interfering
> with that particular folder.

So the good news is that XP gives you a means to make sure that installing a game does not completely hose your box.
That would be progress. But I can't help but think that a good part of MS's recent success still relies on lowered expectations...

Posted by: Jonathan King on November 5, 2003 07:37 AM

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There is no WinG32.DLL file on my Windows box, which probably means that the makers of Medieval:Total War are installing it, and that they installed it in the wrong place. (Or else that some other piece of software you installed installed it in the wrong place, and that's causing problems for M:TW.)

Blaming Microsoft for the sins of people who write software that runs on Microsoft's OSes is... well, "wildly unfair" seems like a good description. It'd be like blaming Brad for this tyop.

Posted by: Mike Kozlowski on November 5, 2003 08:30 AM

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If you're buying an entire computer because one of your children wants to run one particular game, Brad, your taxes aren't high enough. Surely there are higher uses for those funds.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on November 5, 2003 09:35 AM

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It's a problem because SimIsle uses the prehistoric WinG (WinG32.dll) libraries, which were the kinda-sorta precursor to DirectX, Microsoft's gaming library; they aren't really supported anymore. Most signficantly, it was a Windows 3.1 game; once you get older than Windows 95, it's a crapshoot.

http://www.mobygames.com/game/sheet/p,5/gameId,3618/

You can *probably* get it working, though, by installing WinG from here:

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=http://support.microsoft.com:80/support/kb/articles/Q125/6/98.asp&NoWebContent=1

http://download.microsoft.com/download/platformsdk/wing/1/WIN98/EN-US/Wing10.exe

Posted by: Jason McCullough on November 5, 2003 10:31 AM

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Bucky,

a x86 computer apt to gaming can be bought for under 600 (16% VAT included) in Spain, so States-side it should even less expensive, particularly since to play that game it can be a rather old model. WinG is pre-DirectX technology, that made it at least pre-W98 if I reckon correctly.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on November 5, 2003 10:43 AM

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1) This looks like trying to install a Windows 3.1 (must be at least 8 years old) game onto an XP system (as far as I can tell the "System32" directory doesn't become the default directory for dumping various system DLLs until Windows 2000 and XP -- though it exists in WinME to take up space). As Jason said, you may luck out, but it probably best to give up that ghost. Not even Maxis seems to support it.

2) If this is Windows XP, you can try to run it in Win95 compatibility mode, though I doubt this will help.

3) You do say you have a number of macs. Have you tried Virtual PC and installing an ancient copy of Win 3.1 onto it?

4) What other games are your children playing? I think I may need to start up a Xmas shopping list.

Posted by: Wes McGee on November 5, 2003 11:08 AM

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So, the installer put the dll into the \system directory because, when the program was first written, there was no such thing as a \system32 directory. But the OS objects-- it insists that the dll must go into the \system32 directory. Will it work there? Who knows. Is this Microsoft's fault? You bet it is. An error like this doesn't occur in a well-designed system.

Posted by: Matt on November 5, 2003 11:10 AM

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I of course know what comupters cost.

Dr. DeLong, loves to post that he enjoys paying taxes, and that the current Administration is undertaxing the rich and underspending on domestic needs.

Yet he fails to see the irony in his own spending, which, by social democratic lights, is absurd.

Certainly, an underfunded school in nearby Oakland, the victim of greedy and selfish tax misers and racist population flight, can use that computer for education.

He's posted on the absurdity of SUVs. What's NOT absurd about this particular extravagance?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on November 5, 2003 11:12 AM

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Look, there are a lot of issues with Windows, but to say that it is not well designed because of this is crazy. This was a 10+ year old app.

Linux seems to break binary compatibility on just about every point release from the major vendors. Running 68k software on PPC mac was flakey, and the transition to OSX broke backwards compatibility again.

Posted by: billm on November 5, 2003 11:45 AM

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OK, an 8 year old game, sorry.

Posted by: billm on November 5, 2003 11:50 AM

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