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Getting Visual Studio 6 to install on Vista

August 26, 2007

Vista busy cursor The 2003 version of Microsoft’s Visual Studio (Visual Studio.NET) is not compatible with Vista, according to Microsoft, let alone Visual Studio 6 (VS6) which dates back to 1998.

Yet I had reason to wish to install VS6. Some years ago I wrote a program in Visual Basic 6 (VB6) which I call Virtual Cabinet, for personal use at home. It’s a home grown solution for personal filing. It allows me to scan and save incoming mail as images, and outgoing replies as Word files, while indexing the lot via an Access database for easy retrieval. It has worked fine for years and I wanted to be able to use it from Vista.

Now Vista is supposed to support VB6 programs natively, but it refused to run my Virtual Cabinet. First of all it was missing a load of ActiveX controls (dialog boxes, data grids, etc) which I had to locate and register, but even after that it refused to come quietly. It was apparently “unable to initialise the data bindings” between the data grid control and the database. Groan.

I thought I might have got the path to the data folder wrong, so I recompiled from XP with the path carefully set to reflect what it needed to be from within Vista. Alas, no improvement. Same error.

That left me needing to debug the application on Vista, which in turn meant installing VS6 (or at least VB6 and other minimum components) on Vista. The installation went fine until right near the end when I started getting error messages …

RegCreateKey failed for \Interface\OLEViewerIViewerCLSID. Access is denied

followed by a couple more error dialogs and finally a message that VS6 setup had failed.

In fact, it hadn’t failed. VB6 was installed and opened up just fine. I proceeded to start downloading VS6 Service Pack 6 from the Microsoft website (so that my Vista installation would be as up to date as my VS6 on XP) but while waiting for the download to complete I Googled for anything that might help explain the strange error messages.

I found this. And it is just as well I did, because without the advice I found there I would not have been able to install the service pack. It turns out that the error messages related only to a failure to install one of the VS6 tools, the OLE Viewer, but that was enough to set a flag to the effect that VS6 had not completed setup correctly, and upon encountering that flag the service pack install would refuse to run. The solution was to rerun the VS6 setup but deselecting the OLE Viewer from the tools option. That allowed VS6 to run to “successful” completion and, as a result, the service pack to install.

I was then able to debug my Virtual Cabinet program, except it now ran perfectly in Vista with no changes to the code required. Maybe installing VS6 added some critical component or other. I don’t know or care. The damn thing runs. Halleluyah. Another Vista trial survived.


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  38. Thanks for the post, fixed the problem for me on Windows 7 64bit!


  39. Works the same for Windows 7.


  40. hi can you give me the step in installing vb6 in vista? i install it but it says that it doesnt support the file. i have vista/1gb memory… how can i run it? any reply will grateful..tnx


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  42. hi…

    this info has been very very important to me

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  43. Interesting comment about the garbage collector in dotnet. I wonder how well managed C++ extensions work. I haven’t dared try that.


  44. Hi
    Thanks for this very helpful tip — I had the same problem and was on the verge of re-installin the os when I found your site. Incidently if you need to write code which must be able to be in control of memory then .net is all but useless — no matter how hard you try, the mad net gc(garbage collecter) will come along and wreck your memory for you.

    Theres nothing dated about vs6.


  45. Hello all VS6.0 fans,

    Visual C++ 6 isn’t dead; I’ve seen a few software development companies still worrying about high-performances applications in native, Win32 mode. Some are reluctant to dive in .net framework because they have a large and reliable code base and dev tools.
    My VC++6 installation went well, except that VS 6.0 fails to find built output at runtime – odd. Maybe I should add current project path in the PATH system variable.


  46. Thanks for your comments.right now am installing vB 6.0 on vista and a dialogue box on “compatibility issues” is flashing.,
    Anybody who has an idea if it can still run?


  47. thx for info…i trying now, i really feel bored about this damn error appear while i open up the VC++ for a c coding file ..


  48. Thanks for this information! I was about to start getting cranky with Vista for not playing nice with VB 6. Yes, yes, I know it’s an old development environment. But we still have to support some old apps at work.



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