Updated 05-24-2010 – THE UNTHINKABLE HAS FINALLY HAPPENED! Ok, a bit dramatic, but this news really is pretty cool. Last week as I was rummaging around some online message boards, I ran across someone who had actually gotten Photo Story 3 to work in Windows 7. Now, this isn’t big news… or at least shouldn’t be. In this blog (see the original version below, dated 01-30-2010), we discussed how you CAN run Photo Story 3 in Windows 7, but only in Windows 7 Professional and above, using Virtual Windows XP.
But here’s the big news… Microsoft has apparently CHANGED Photo Story 3, and it now works in Windows 7 without Virtual Windows XP, meaning that if you have Windows 7 Home Edition, you can go back to using Photo Story 3.
What great news! But here’s what you need to do….
Visit Microsoft’s Photo Story 3 download page, and download the latest copy. Microsoft says NOTHING about anything being changed, but 5 different times that I’ve now either downloaded the latest installation file or had a friend do it, it installs and works fine in Windows 7.
I’ve left the original blog (below) on using Virutal Windows XP mode to run Photo Story 3, just in case you are interested, or Microsoft decides to change its mind. But for now… All you Windows 7 users now can again use Photo Story 3!
01-30-2010 ORIGINAL POST – In a previous post (No Photostory in Vista? How Do I Make Photo Slideshows?) we discussed running Microsoft’s Photo Story in Vista, and explained that it DOES work, even though Microsoft would lead you to believe that it won’t. But now we have Windows 7, and it’s my unfortunate duty to inform you that Photo Story, that simple to use, wonderful, free slide show program does NOT work in Windows 7… at least, not unless you have the right computer setup and are willing to put a bit of work into it.
At the end of the other Photo Story post, I updated you with these facts about about using Photo Story 3 in Windows 7:
- In many cases, Photo Story 3 will work with a fresh install of Windows 7, or a direct update to Windows 7 from Vista, but ONLY until you “activate” the copy of Windows 7. Once you’ve activated, and then also recieved some of the Microsoft Windows updates, when you start Photo Story 3, you get the following error message…
- If you try to run the program in Compatibility Mode (as we described doing for Vista), it will still not work, and gives you the same message.
- Some have reported that if you use the version of Photo Story 3.1 found in Microsoft Digital Imaging Starter Edition 2006 (you can download it from CNet), it WILL work with Windows 7. The problem is… this is a limited version that times out after 60 days. So unless you want to try setting your computer clock back, this is only a short-term solution.
- You can setup a dual-boot computer, running Windows 7 and Windows XP or Vista. If you are interested, here’s a link to a forum message that includes additional links on how to do it.
- Keep an old computer around with Windows XP or Windows Vista on it. As stupid as this sounds, it’s not a totally bad idea. Rather than upgrade to Windows 7, I’ve run into lots of folks that are just purchasing a new computer with Windows 7 on it. Considering that an upgrade to Windows 7 costs about $120, and you can purchase a new laptop with Windows 7 for as little as $350 (from a place like Best Buy), it might make sense. Then, you can keep your old XP or Vista machine around and just run Photo Story on it. I’ll probably end up doing this.
And Finally, and this is what I really want to get to in this article,
- If your hardware supports it, you can run a copy of Windows XP using Virtual PC inside of Windows 7. Photo Story 3 will run inside of Virtual PC.
Yes, Photo Story 3 Does work using Windows 7 Virtual PC! But here’s the catch… You’ll only be able to run Windows 7 Virtual PC if you have the right version of Windows 7 and the right hardware.
- You must have Windows 7 Professional or above (NOT Home Premium).
- You must have an Intel or AMD processor that supports VT (virtual technology).
In my case, I have a 1 year old HP Notebook running and Intel dual-core processor, and yet it doesn’t support Intel VT. However, I do have 3 year old, home-built, Intel quad-core machine that DOES support Intel VT. Needless to say, it was the quad machine that became my test bed for trying to get Photo Story 3 and Virtual PC to work.
Here’s what I had to do, and some hints to make your life a bit easier if you decide to give it a try too (remember, this won’t work with Windows 7 Home Premium, you must have at least the Professional version):
- The first thing you’ll want to do is visit the Microsoft Virtual PC site. Here, you’ll see lots of info about how great Virtual PC is, and what you can use it to do.
- Although there’s a lot of good info here, you’ll want to click the Downloads link at the top of the page. This takes you to a page that has 4-steps you’ll need to take in order to get Virtual PC up and running on your machine.
- The step to focus on here is #2 – Can my PC run Windows XP Mode (i.e. Virtual PC)? This step has a link to a small tool you can download and run. It tells you if your machine supports VT. Here’s what the tool shows you if the test is successful:
- If you pass the test, and you have the right version of Windows 7 (Pro or above), you are ready for step #3 – Selecting your edition of Windows 7 and your language, and then step #4 – Downloading and installing Windows XP Mode. What you actually must do is download TWO files… the Windows XP Mode file (which you install first) and the Virtual PC file (which you install next). Both installed with no problems on my quad machine, although it takes a reboot at the end. Here’s a screenshot…
- After you reboot, you go to the Start button and under Programs, look for the newly created Windows Virtual PC group. It will contain two entires, but you’ll want to run the Windows XP Mode program.
- The first time you run Windows XP Mode, it has you do some initial setup tasks you’ll only have to do once. Just follow the screen prompts, and when you finish, you’ll have a virtual copy of Windows XP SP3 running in a Window on your Windows 7 desktop. In the screenshots I show here, for demonstration purposes, I have the virtual window floating on the Windows 7 desktop rather than maximizing it.
- Before we continue with our installation of Photo Story 3, there are some things to know about running a virtual copy of Windows XP SP3.
- First off, a virtual PC window acts as though it’s independent of the real operating system on your computer. In the case of Windows 7 Virtual PC running Windows XP, Windows XP has it’s own “C:” drive, and can only see your regular C: hard drive by using “remote access”. This means that if you want to run any programs, they have to be separately installed on the virtual machine. The virtual machine can’t see anything you already have installed on Windows 7. However, the virtual machine CAN use your Internet connection, and most of the hardware (printers, USB ports, etc.) of your computer.
- Second, although you are running Windows XP SP3, you still need to do regular Windows Updates INSIDE THE VIRTUAL MACHINE! In fact, the first thing I did was start up Internet Explorer, and head off to windowsupdate.microsoft.com and check for updates.
- Third, and I got this from a Windows tech board… if you are going to do any type of Internet stuff inside your virtual machine, you need to install an Anti-Virus program. No, your existing AV program will not protect you inside the virtual machine. You have to install it there.
- With this in mind… as soon as I had the Windows XP virtual pc window up and running, I (1) Installed an anti-virus program, (2) ran Windows update multiple times to make sure I got everything, (3) Upgraded Internet Explorer 6.0 (yuk!) to version 8.0, and (4) Upgraded Media Player 9.0 to version 11.0 (Photo Story needs at least version 10).
- With all the updates done, and after a few Windows XP virtual pc restarts, I was ready to install Photo Story 3. I had already downloaded the last published version of PS3 (you can do that here), but had to copy it from my regular hard drive to my “virtual C: drive”, because the Windows XP virtual PC would not let me install it “remotely”. I copied it to my virtual desktop, and started the installation program up. Guess what? IT WORKED! And when the installation was finished, I had the Photo Story 3 icon in my virtual Windows Start Menu, and to my surprise, also had it in my regular Windows 7 Start Menu. With the new version of Windows 7 Virtual PC, you can directly start programs that are “in” the virtual PC directly from your regular system. Pretty cool…
- Now for the final test… would Photo Story 3 really work? Yup, it sure did! The first screen shot is of the program running, and the second shows a small slide show I created. Both are inside the virtual PC window.
Needless to say, I was excited. And in testing all the normal features of Photo Story 3, including adding soundtracks and recording narration, everything seemed to work just fine.
But in closing let me say this… I’m pretty disappointed that Microsoft decided to abandon Photo Story 3, and make us jump through hoops to keep the program running. I know they want us to start using Movie Maker and Windows DVD creator instead of PS3, but as nice as those programs are, they still don’t let you create as good looking of shows, so easily, as Photo Story does. And frankly, as it gets hard and harder to run PS3, I’ll probably start moving to alternatives, such as the slide show program that’s included with Photoshop Elements and other freeware programs such as Photo Film Strip. Microsoft, I really think you messed this one up.