Important Information for Windows Vista/Win7 Users

Note: in the following document, nearly all references to Vista also apply to Win7. These two operating systems share the same roots and core features.

For users that have Windows Vista, it will be important that you understand certain aspects of Windows Vista, and how Vista may affect the installation and usage of Reality XP products, as well as other products in general. Please make sure you understand the disclaimer below before proceeding to the technical areas of this page.

Overview - What it means to use Vista

Windows Vista has some major changes that could affect how you use your computer. Some of these changes may hinder your ability to use your computer in ways you have been accustomed to. Both developers and users are going to have to adapt to the new Vista structure also. As time progresses, you will likely have less and less issues most because developers will have altered applications to be more compatible, plus you, the user, will have gained an important and necessary understanding in installing and configuring software on Vista.

With Vista, you can reconfigure your system so that it works similar to the way XP worked and this may take care of many issues. However, there still could be issues. Some products and applications (of all types) will run just perfect, and some may not run at all. Some may run with updates, and it is even possible some may work on some Vista installations and not work on other Vista installations. So please be aware that Vista is a major change! So you should be prepared for both the good and bad. In less common cases, some software may never be Vista compatible. So do check to see if and when upgrading to Vista is right for you by seeing if your most important software is Vista compatible before upgrading or switching to Vista.

If you are considering the 64-bit version of Vista, make sure this is something you really need. If you do not have a specific need to run 64-bit applications, then going the 64-bit route may be unnecessary and may cause more conflicts compared to the 32-bit version of Vista.

This page will start out assuming that you are using the default Vista settings after a new installation of Vista. If you are the "hobbyist" type of user, and you like to install many applications from different developers, then with the default Vista configuration, you should prepare yourself for potential problems in installing and running the add-on software (if you have not reconfigured your system to work similar to Windows XP). In some cases, compatibility will only be achieved if you understand how to use Vista in certain ways, and in other cases, usage may be as seamless as it was with earlier operating systems.

But as a general rule, you should try to learn about the new security aspects of Vista. Without understanding what Vista does, you may be limited in how you can use your computer. But if you understand the restrictions that Vista puts on certain areas of your system, you should have good success in running most applications.

Important Disclaimer - Read Before Proceeding!

Table of Contents

Running Installation Programs, and Regular Program Applications

Windows Security Warnings

On Windows Vista, if you get a Windows Security warning giving you one of the following messages:

  • Windows needs your permission to continue
  • A program needs your permission to continue
  • An unidentified program wants access to your computer

Then, if you trust the source of the software, it is very important that you give permission to allow program to run. This most commonly occurs with Setup programs, but it could also occur with other applications during their normal operation.

If full permission is not granted in the above scenario, you may not be able to install or run your software properly. Certain installers and applications require full administrator rights in order to function.

These security warning messages were not part of previous Windows operating systems. But they have recently been added to Windows Vista.

In some cases there will be a long delay before you get the above notification screen. This is part of the User Account Control function of Windows. See the next section below for more information.

More information on User Account Control (UAC)

By default, Windows Vista has a feature called User Account Control enabled. User Account Control limits the usage rights for all users using the system, including any Administrator account. What this means is that any software that requires access to your system must be given permission for this access. This requirement is common with setup utilities. This is because the program in the setup utility may require certain runtime modules be explicitly installed to your system. This has been common for years, but with Windows Vista, the system security has been tightened up to prevent malicious programs from gaining automatic access to the system.

If you know where your software is coming from, then it is usually always safe to install that software.

User Account Control is enabled by default, but it can be disabled so you do not have to always see the Windows Security warning messages or have trouble with certain applications. Computers are more secure with UAC enabled, however, if you are a more advanced user, or if you are trying to install an application that is not so Vista friendly, you may find it easier with UAC disabled. To do this, follow these instructions (these instructions may vary slightly on your machine):

  1. Go to User Accounts. You can do this from the Start button in your taskbar. Click Start/Settings/Control Panel/User Accounts and Family Safety/User Accounts.
  2. Select Turn User Account Control on or Off. Uncheck the box to turn User Account Control off and select OK.
  3. You will have to restart your computer.

You can always re-enable it if needed later.

Program Files is Restricted by Default (Administrator Access is Required)

Because of the way Vista is setup, you have limited rights to anything in your Program Files folder by default. This can cause errors because some programs can't write data correctly. To get this to work so applications can save data to these folders, you can try to right click your applications icon (e.g. the Flight Simulator icon), and select Run as Administrator. This may or may not work in every instance. You may have to change the ownership and permissions of your Program Files folder.

For a more permanent solution, you have 3 options, with 1 and 2 maybe being both required:

1. Turn off User Account Control

See this section above for instructions on disabling User Account Control.

2. Change Folder Ownership and Permissions

  1. Open Program Files in Windows Explorer, or double-click "Computer" on your desktop.
  2. Open Microsoft Games. You will see the Flight Simulator folder. Right click that folder. Select Properties/Security Tab/Advanced. Optional and recommended - You can select the entire Program Files folder instead of the Flight Simulator folder, and then you do not have to worry about this for other applications in the future.
  3. Select the Owner tab, then Edit. Click Continue if a User Account Control dialog comes up.
  4. Highlight your user account (it must be an administrator account and the one you use when using Flight Simulator), and select Apply. Click OK all the way back to your folder list.
  5. Now, right click the same folder again. Select Properties, then the Security Tab.
  6. Select Edit and type in your user name. After it appears, select Full Control in the checkbox list. Click all the OK buttons again.
  7. To test (optional): Open up the folder you just changed permissions on. Then from the File menu in the top of the screen, select New, and then it should open up a dropdown list with many items such as Text Document. Select Text Document. If this document is created, it means you now have a rewritable folder!

3. Do not install Flight Simulator to Program Files

We do not recommend installing to Program Files unless the above 2 steps are made. If User Account Control must be enabled, you may want to remove Flight Simulator X, and reinstall it to a new folder that is outside Program Files, such as C:\FSX. A shorter path makes the program easier to work with when working with files manually because of the shorter path.

Firewalls and the Internet

In Windows Vista, you must configure the default firewall so that programs that need to communicate through the Internet have full access to communicate. This should be easy and in most cases automatic with any of the Reality XP Software you may download. However, if the default firewall (or a 3rd party firewall) is limiting connection of the program you are trying to run, then your program will not likely function.

The default Vista firewall is entirely sufficient in our opinion. We do not recommend any 3rd party firewall software of any kind. The hardware firewall in your router and cable box is fine also! This can be used alongside your Vista firewall with no problems.

3rd party firewall software is notoriously known to "break" Windows. "Break" means that it has an affect on Windows in instances where you expect its behavior to be different. A prime example is the 3rd party firewall causing program interference, even if the firewall is disabled. This is quite common based on our past experience.

Please use 3rd party firewalls with caution. We have seen some cases in Windows XP where systems had to have a system rollback in order repair the affects from 3rd party software firewalls. This was after manual configuration and subsequent uninstall of the software firewall did not work.

We recommend the ShieldsUp test at to test your Internet "exposure". It is a free test, and it will tell you if you are visible on the Internet. If with your default Vista firewall (plus any firewall that may be active in your cable or DSL modem), the ShieldsUp test shows you are in Steath mode, then you are likely very safe out there on the Internet. Nobody will be able to find you! So extra firewalls in this scenario may only cause additional problems for you.

Windows Defender and other Spyware and Virus Scanners

Security applications are one of the most common reasons for software application failures. Windows Defender and any other security programs you install can cause program interference, and prevent your software from running.

If you have trouble installing software, it is always recommended that you disable any security software on your system (as long as you trust the source of the software you are installing). This includes virus scanners, spyware scanners, and Windows Defender.

The false-postive rate from Virus Scanners is higher than ever, thus causing a lot of unneeded extra effort for both end-users and product support staff. If something stopped working that was working before, it is possible your security software flagged a required file with a "False Positive". Check your security software logs to find out what file may have been marked with a false positive, If you trust where you got the software, then you can instruct the security software to allow, or skip over, the required file in future scans. Make sure you read the Take Control of Your Computer Through Experience section below.

The Dissapearing Program - Watch out for Data Execution Protection (DEP)

Data Execution Protection can be set to a setting that prevents your software from running. If it is set to a setting that is too high, you may notice programs that do not start up (they show nothing when you execute the application), and in some cases, you may notice the program simply closing with no message or warning. It just seems to close (or dissapear from the screen), when a certain action takes place.

If DEP is causing you trouble, you should make sure it is set to "...essential Windows programs and services only." To do this, right click the "Computer" icon on your desktop and select Properties. Then select Advanced, and then select the Performance Options button. You will see a Data Execution Protection tab there. Make sure it is set to "Turn on DEP for essential Windows programs and services only." After you change this, reboot your system. Do not set DEP to the "...all programs and services" option unless you want to experience program shutdowns or programs that do not run.

Things to try when your software does not run

So, if you are having trouble with any software, here is what we suggest you do to try to get things running…

  1. Verify first if the software is indeed Vista compatible. There is no need to go through extra steps on non-compatible programs.
  2. Disable User Account Control - or you can try to right-click the file and run it as administrator.
  3. Disable Windows Defender.
  4. Adjust Data Execution Protection as outlined above.
  5. Disable any 3rd party security software including any virus or spyware scanner.
  6. Make sure your 3rd party firewall software allows the proper exceptions.
  7. Run the software in Windows XP compatibility mode (see below)
  8. Make sure your user account is a top-level Administrator account, and does not have reduced rights to any areas on the computer.
  9. Turn of the Aero Desktop theme in Vista. The use of video resources to render the Aero theme can cause instability with other applications in some cases.

Many of the above may need to be disabled through your services menu (at your Start/Run prompt, type services.msc, then hit Enter). You can disable them one at a time to find what the problem application or service is. Or, add them back into service once your software is running correctly

If you still do not have success, you may need to go as far as fully uninstall any security software, and make sure the DLLs and services for that security software are removed also. In worst cases, a system rollback may be required. This should not be required for properly designed software. Most rollbacks are caused by security software installations that were improperly designed.

What all the above basically means is that you have to have full control over your software, with no interference from any outside application. Do note that there could be problems we still do not know about with certain Vista configurations. If you have continued problems, please contact Microsoft Support, as well as use other Internet forums available. Other users may have had experiences to share with you.

Try Windows XP SP2 Compatibility Mode

You can have Vista try to run the software emulating Windows XP Service Pack 2. To do this, right-click the file you want to run, select Properties, then under the Compatibility tab select Windows XP SP2. This may help in some cases when the application itself has trouble running.

Take Control of Your Computer Through Experience!

Here is what many of us go by here at Reality XP…

  1. Keep no virus scanner or Internet security active in memory unless it is system friendly. Use only a quality, reasonable, security product like NOD32 from Eset, and know when to call on it. Plus, if you keep NOD32 loaded in memory, it does not negatively affect the system compared to some other scanners. For more information on NOD32, go to Many free virus scanners can give false positives, so we recommend a quality commercial scanner like the above.
  2. Only use the default Vista firewall, and what may be in your cable or DSL modem. We NEVER use any 3rd party firewall, no matter how reputable that company is. It is not needed in our opinion!
  3. Never execute a program from an untrusted source without scanning it with NOD32 or equivalent. Hence what I mention above… know when to use your virus scanner.
  4. Know what 3rd party security software is appropriate, and professionally designed. Security software companies want to SELL you software with features and "technology", and can put on a great show. But a great show is not just what you want. You want software that does not take too much control of your system, and does its job well when called on. So again, know WHEN to use your security software, and learn HOW to use it on-demand.

Once you gain full control of your computer back, your chances to run error free are much greater.

If you are unsure, or still new to computers and feel the need for additional security, then waiting for Vista would maybe be better (if you do not have a very important need to have Vista). For Flight Simulator 9 and 10 (FSX) there is currently ZERO advantage to Vista now. If you do have Vista now, learn safe computing so you do not need to rely on other applications (and Vista) to keep it safe for you. Then you should have better luck using a wider range of software! But you may already be a very educated user and the software simply has problems with your configuration

If you are upgrading to Vista from Windows XP (Windows Vista upgrade versions)

When you upgrade to Windows Vista from Windows XP, you may have problems running your previously installed software. You will need to likely reinstall your previous software either from the downloaded e-commerce enabled EXE, or from the CD. This may or may not work completely, as you may have to remove invalid files first. If you have tried reinstalling and you still have problems, then please post a message in our support forum

From what we have seen, using an upgrade version of Vista on TOP of an XP version is not as good as a full, clean, Vista install with a reformat of the system. Your upgrade installation may be fine, but if you are given the opportunity to install fresh, do so.

Why is it necessary to disable all this "security" with Vista?

The problem is that there are so many variations of operating environments out there. It is much more than simply saying "I have Vista". If we simply knew that every computer out there would have exactly Windows Vista, with NOD32 as the virus scanner, then it would be so much easier because we would know exactly what to expect and could build and test to this configuration.

But in reality, many users have so much security installed and/or active, from multiple sources, that no 2 operating environments are the same. What may work on one system may not work on another, even though the systems appear to be nearly identical. So the best way to get compatibility is to work from the ground up with no possible interference from the operating system or 3rd party applications. This is why for years you have seen setup programs warn you about virus scanners or other running applications.

As developers, we can start to change how products are installed on the users system, which in an overall sense is not such a bad idea. We will start moving what used to be "System Files", into non-system folders for example. We will try to lower our dependence on 3rd party modules (DLL's, OCX's) where possible, so less files need to be distributed with the application. But what about that legacy program you had from a few years ago? Not all programs are going to be "cracked back open and repackaged" by every developer. So in these cases, your legacy application will need all the help it can get so that it can be successfully installed and run on your computer. Even some fully Vista compliant applications will still need special attention in Vista to install them on some configurations.

So if Reality XP, or any company or developer says that the program does run on Vista, you may need to actually rephrase that to mean "It does run on Vista, as long as Vista is configured to allow it to run." Of course Reality XP will try to assist with instructions, like the ones here on this page. But much will be up to your ability to adjust and configure Vista and associated applications in your system.

Microsoft basically "locked down" the operating system with Vista, so more novice users would be better protected. This does come at a cost! However, with a proper understanding of everything mentioned here, you will likely be able to successfully install and use a wide variety of applications on Vista, including both legacy and new Vista compliant applications.