Using a Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live! Platinum (CT4760) under Windows Vista

System Requirements:

  • Sound Blaster Live! Platinum
  • Windows Vista

The Problem:

This is Windows Vista we’re talking about… you had to ask?

More Information:

Put simply there are no native drivers for the original versions of the SB Live series with the Live! Drive 1.0 or 2.0. Microsoft stopped generating them with Windows Server 2003’s release, and in all but name so did Creative.

I can help you get sound, I cannot help you to get Surround Sound, the Game Port or to make use of your Live! Drive as the people at Creative once intended.

  1. Go to http://www.creative.com/ and then to Support
  2. Open the main downloads page
  3. In the Search by File Name or Model Number search for CT4760
  4. Download the 23.32 MB, 10 Mar 03 “Sound Blaster Live! – LiveDrvUni-Pack English”
  5. Double click the installer program, work through until it tells you it cannot find any qualifying products
  6. Hit Vista’s Device Manager
  7. Find the uninstalled Multimedia Audio Device, right click it and select Update Driver
  8. Specify your own file path for a driver
  9. Type or browse to the following, substituting %username% for the SAM name of your user account:
    C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Temp\CRF000\Audio\Drivers\WIN2K_XP\
  10. Vista will install the driver and you will now have sound & sound control through the audio mixer

What does not work

Yes, they did release XP drivers for it in 2001, 2002 and 2003, and the 2003 release is what we are using – but if you actually need to use the Live Drive or want any SPDIF/Optical output e.g. have a 5.1 surround sound system, forget it. The best you will ever do with these driver is Stereo.

  • Many of the Live Drive’s ports (Exactly the same as using these drivers with XP)
  • SPDIF/Optical decoding to AC3 (Stereo is fine [Exactly the same as using these drivers with XP])
  • Create Joystick/MIDI port on the back plate of the card (Vista will not accept the driver)
  • Speaker profiling other than Mono/Stereo (Exactly the same as using these drivers with XP)

So much for the 1999 promise of lifetime support through the “LiveWare” program. That lasted all of 2 years.

Installing Windows Media Player 9.0 Under Windows 98 First Edition

I have been using this one for forever and a day, yet I have never seen or heard od anyone else using it. I only thought of doucmenting it while I was completing the Windows Media Player 7.1 on Windows NT 4.0 article. This exemplifies the point of Microsoft introducing seemingly artificial limitations into its software.

Attempt to install Windows Media Player 9 under Windows 98 First Edition, and you will receive the following error message:

Windows Media 9 on 98 FE Error

The installer is actually looking for a SubVersion registry key (and a little more) under:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion

You could substitute this string with ” A ” if you wanted to, however there is an even easier way to bypass it, simply skip the installer inflators OS check.

Pull up the location of MPSetup.exe into a command window:

  1. Click Start, chose Run
  2. Type CMD and click OK
  3. CD into the location where WMP can be found:
    e.g. cd Desktop
  4. Type:
    mpsetup.exe /t:c:\wmp9\
  5. Inflate the files wherever you would like them (desktop isn’t a great idea because there are a lot of them)
  6. manually run:
    setup_wm.exe
  7. Enjoy

WMP9 Setup

WMP9 a la Winows 98 FE

Simple as that!

Installing Windows Media Player 7.1 Under Windows NT 4.0 SP6a

It’s hypocrisy gone mad! Yes, I know. As the self professed leader of the Say No To 7 campaign, here I am about to show you how to install it onto something it was never meant for!
Well, one does like to fiddle.

 

Windows Media Player 7.1

The interesting thing about Microsoft, is their uncanny self-imposed need to artificially limiting their software products to conform to whatever marketing initiative they’re currently undertaking. This isn’t necessarily always a bad thing – it does force some level of forward progress. However, I do wonder how much end user adoption they have inhibited, and how large a slice of the security exploits pie such a policy has helped to create.

The the official system requirements for Windows Media Player 7.1 are as follows (Source):

Minimum

  • Microsoft Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows 2000, or Windows Millennium Edition
  • Pentium 166 megahertz (MHz) processor
  • 32 MB RAM
  • 28.8-kilobits per second (Kbps) modem
  • 16-bit sound card
  • 256-color video card

Recommended

  • Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows 2000, or Windows Millennium Edition
  • Pentium or AMD Athlon K6 266 MHz processor or faster
  • 64 MB RAM
  • 56-Kbps modem
  • 24-bit true colour video card

If you’re someone who takes such information as sacrosanct, then this might surprise you:

Windows Media Player 7.1 under Windows NT 4.0 SP6a

I would like to stress that the image is not a fake, it is a genuine Windows NT 4.0 Workstation screenshot. Neither is the process some sort of hack which would be seen as a breach of EULA terms by rewriting, hex-editing, decompiling or resource editing even a single binary digit of Microsoft code.

Though it was exceptionally time consuming to initially setup, the program runs on the Windows NT 4.0 kernel with no modifications, no special DLL’s ripped from any other version of Windows, and relies upon nothing more than the Windows Media Player 7.1 installer binary, and a fully patched Windows NT 4.0 installation.

You are probably wondering at this point why I’m fiddling with Windows Media Player 7.1, when there is a version 9 release out there just waiting to be converted down. Truth be told, I did try it. However, it loads with a Kernel related error and attempting to fix it goes too far plus, when all is said and done, I wasn’t going to spend that much time on this project.

 

NOTE: This has only been tested under Windows NT 4.0 Workstation SP6a on a Virtual PC Image, and has not been thoroughly tested in features or performance. It should however work with NT 4.0 Server and Advanced Server (it may not Terminal Server). Use at your own risk.

 

Installing

I have created a redistributable of the Windows Media Player 7.1, which will enable you to get it working in a few very short steps. If you are so inclined, you can inflate the installer yourself.

The binary download includes:

  • Windows Media Player 7.1
  • Adaptec CD Burning Plug-in (untested)
  • Windows Media Device Manager (untested)
  • All other installed components
  • Windows Media Player 7 Patches:
    1. Q308567 ASF Processor Contains Unchecked Buffer
    2. Q320920 Windows Media Player Rollup
    3. Q808226 Windows Media Player Script Commands Update
    4. Q817787 Flaw in Windows Media Player Skins Code Execution
    5. Q828026 Windows Media Player URL Script Command Update
  • Windows Media 7 ActiveX Control for Internet Explorer

 

Patch It Up

Step one in this plan is for you to fully patch NT 4.0. I recommend that you follow my guide, and get yourself the Internet Explorer 6.0 SP1 (with the shell update) from HPC:Factor or anyone else you care to source it from.

When I say patch it, I mean it. In full. If you don’t want to install Microsoft Internet Explorer, stop reading now and go and download WinAmp.

View: Windows NT 4.0 Installation, Patches & Updates Guide (HPC:Factor)

 

Download

The installation binary for Windows Media Player 7.1 for Windows NT is nothing fancy, just a zip file which you will need to drag into your own file system, and a bat file that you need to run yourself. There is no formal uninstaller, though it’s pretty easy to reverse engineer the bat file to clear out your system.

Download: (11.8 MB) wmp71-nt4.zip

 

Installation Procedure

Please be sure to read the following carefully!

  1. Inflate the zip file into a temporary folder
  2. Exit Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer and ideally all programs / tray applications
  3. Copy the Program Files over program files on your system drive. It’s safe to allow all overwrites*
  4. Copy the WinNT folder over your file system. READ all dialogue boxes. Do NOT overwrite new files with older ones
    e.g. If the file you already have is 23/03/2002 and the one you are copying is 02/04/1999 do not overwrite it
    If you say Yes to overwrite a system file and Windows tells you that it cannot perform the replacement action, ignore it
  5. If you wish to install ‘My Music’, copy the My Music folder into the My Documents (Personal) default profile, and then in turn into your user(s) profile(s)
  6. Run the Register.bat file
  7. Copy the Windows Media Player shortcut into your Start Menu, desktop, quick launch (as desired)
  8. Installation is now complete

 

* Back up your system registry before running this update

Preventing Virtual PC’s obsession with “My Virtual Machines”

System Requirements:

  • Virtual PC 2004, SP1

The Problem:

Virtual PC 2004 ritually insists upon creating the a “My Virtual Machines” directory beneath your user profiles My Documents root, even if you have previously deleted this folder and frequently set the ‘working’ path to another location while in the file browser.

If you wish to store your VMC and VHD data elsewhere on your system or network, you must manually specify the full path to the Virtual PC Console each time you make configuration changes, as well as delete a new instance of My Virtual Machines.

The Fix:

This seems like a simple, yet typically Microsoft omission from the program – utterly defeating the idea of it being “My” Documents in favour of whatever Microsoft, Adobe, BVRP etc want to make it.
Most applications store working path information in the registry’s Current User settings, Virtual PC has, however been hard coded with its user profile paths, making non of the traditional registry keys beneath the Current User Software hive.

There is, however a way around this limitation, as presented cryptically in the readme.htm; which states:

MYVIRTUALMACHINES environment variable controls the default location where new Virtual Machine Configuration (.vmc) files are created
By default, Virtual PC creates the virtual machine configuration files (.vmc) in My Documents\My Virtual Machines. Virtual PC then stores other files that are used by the virtual machine in the same folder as the .vmc file. This is controlled on the host operating system by the MYVIRTUALMACINES environment variable. You can change the MYVIRTUALMACHINES environment variable to a different location. For more information on how to change environment variables, consult the documentation included with the version of Windows on which you have installed Virtual PC 2004.

What this is saying, in case you’re don’t happen to have a MCSE, is that as a counter measure, Virtual PC will screen for the presence of a Shell Wide configuration pointer (Environment Variable) defined as MYVIRTUALMACHINES.
Ever seen, for example, “%SYSTEMROOT%” or “%TEMP%” pop up before in Windows? They are environment variables specifying where the Windows folder (Q:\Windows\) and global Temp folder (N:\Eccentric\Folder\Naming\Temp\) are.

The Environment Variables are considered constants, and not likely to change – if indeed they will ever change. Administrative privileges are required to set or unset an environment variable, lacking the susceptibility of the registry. As they are global, they will already be considered active no matter who is logged into the system (unlike with Current User Registry settings) and unlike with Local Machine Registry settings, are globally available to anything looking for %MYVIRTUALMACHINES%. Saving the system or VPC drivers from specifying access to reams of registry hive to get to the desired few bytes of information.

There are two ways to set an environment variable.

Using the GUI:

  1. Pull up the Control Panel
  2. Run the System Applet
  3. Open the Advanced Tab
  4. Choose Environment Variables…
  5. Under System Variables click New…
  6. In the Variable Name enter:
    MYVIRTUALMACHINES
  7. Under Variable Value enter the Full System Path to your new MVM root e.g.
    D:\Virtual PC\Images\

Exit and restart Virtual PC for the change to become active under Virtual PC.

Using the Registry:

  1. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Environment
  2. Create a new String value named:
    MYVIRTUALMACHINES
  3. Set the value to equal the Full System Path to your new MVM root e.g.
    D:\Virtual PC\Images\

If you set the variable by hand in this fashion, you may need to log off before the change is recognised by the system.

Once you have added the system environment variable, Virtual PC will stop creating the My Virtual Machines folder beneath My Documents, and will default file system browser windows to the new MYVIRTUALMACHINES path.