Using 32bit AutoCAD on 64bit Windows: VMware vs XP Mode

General support questions regarding the use of DraftLogic Electrical that don't fit into any of the more specific forums.

Using 32bit AutoCAD on 64bit Windows: VMware vs XP Mode

Postby DeanUser » Fri Nov 26, 2010 5:36 pm

I just purchased a snazzy new 64 bit workstation that came with the Windows 7 Pro 64 bit operating system preinstalled.

I understand that you are still working on migration DraftLogic Electrical to be completely 64bit compatible, so I tried to install 32bit AutoCAD 2010 so I could keep using DraftLogic Electrical. The AutoCAD installer won't allow the 32bit version to install on the 64bit windows!

What should I do in order to be able to still use the DraftLogic Electrical that I have grown dependent on--hopefully without having to keep my 32bit Windows XP workstation around?
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Re: Using 32bit AutoCAD on 64bit Windows: VMware vs XP Mode

Postby forumadmin » Sun Nov 28, 2010 4:31 pm

Hi Dean,

You are correct, as always, that we are working on our 64bit migration as I type. How is it that you know so much about what is going on here at DraftLogic World Headquarters, anyway???

Regardless of your all-too-intimate knowledge of our activities, for our other readers I will elaborate: 2/3 of the languages that DraftLogic Electrical is coded in are either ready-to-go or just need final testing and tweaks to work with 64bit AutoCAD, the remaining 1/3 is about to be moved ahead. As of today, our estimated completion date of the must do files is the end of February 2011. We should be able to firm this up within a week or two.

Some of you who have read that Microsoft made special effort to retain compatibility with prior version Windows programs whether 32bit or 64bit (e.g. Windows XP and Windows Vista) are probably wondering about why DraftLogic Electrical just doesn't work as-is on Windows 7 64bit. Well, the parts of DraftLogic Electrical that don't need to talk directly to AutoCAD can actually be used now on the Windows 7 64bit and Windows Vista 64 bit operating systems. This includes the Project Library, the Room Library, the Luminaire Library, and the Design Parameter Library. The parts of DraftLogic Electrical that do need to talk directly to AutoCAD get caught up in an Autodesk decision. Autodesk decided (or had to restrict) that users could not install 32bit AutoCAD on any 64bit operating system. So you can only run 32bit AutoCAD on a 32bit operating system, and of course you can only run 64bit AutoCAD on a 64bit operating system. The kicker here is that 64bit AutoCAD won't load 32bit code that has to work directly with it. Thus the requirement that we have to migrate all our code that talks to AutoCAD to be 64bit.

OK, background & excuses done. Now on to solutions!

We are pleased to hear that you value the productivity, accuracy, and error-reduction gains of DraftLogic Electrical over a few percent AutoCAD performance gain (from going to 64bit AutoCAD) and desire to keep running DraftLogic Electrical even though your base operating system doesn't allow us to run there today. Thankfully, there are some reasonably achievable ways of using your new computer with its 64bit operating system with 32bit AutoCAD and thus DraftLogic Electrical.

The basic method is to use hardware virtualization, meaning setting up a computer-within-a-computer. You use software from one of a number of vendors to basically create an environment for a new pretend computer, including its own operating system, within an virtual area of your real computer. The operating system and other programs within the virtual environment think they have their own hardware. We use this technology extensively in the software development business to test software in multiple environments without having to own a truckload of computers.

Once you have decided that virtualization is what you need, the two decisions left are to decide on whose virtualization software and what operating system to put in the virtual environment. I'm going to comment on Microsoft's Virtual PC & VMware for virtualization software first. At DraftLogic, we have been using Virtual PC 2007 for most of our work. It is free & does the trick for our get-in-test-get-out development work on our XP and Vista computers. I personally used it for over a year to run demos when I was using beta releases that I didn't want to affect my production environment. I think the biggest minuses against Microsoft Virtual PC (both the new Windows 7 version and the 2007 version) are lagging support for higher performance graphics and multiple monitors and less flexibility about allocating resources to virtual machines. Thus our users that are virtualizing for day-to-day use, like you will be to run DraftLogic Electrical, are weighted more evenly between VMware and Microsoft Virtual PC.

To conclude the virtualization vendor choice, if you don't mind the $189 license for VWware Workstation, it is going to buy you a better user experience and assured usability--which is important if you are working with an IT department that is lacking in time and would not be happy with trying Virtual PC first and going to VMware if Virtual PC is not acceptable to you. If out of pocket cost is a consideration, try Virtual PC first--it has been acceptable for most users...and when it is not going to work for a particular configuration it is usually quite obvious due to severe lag time in basic AutoCAD operations like MOVE operations for large a large number of entities. Note that there is a free VMware Player product, but the free license is for non-commercial use.

Once you have your virtualization vendor selected, you need to choose an operating system for your virtual environment. For Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate users, this is something of a no-brainer if you are going to try Windows Virtual PC since Microsoft offers a free preconfigured XP download. For others, you need to have a Windows 2000 or Windows XP 32bit or some other license of a 32bit operating system handy that will be compatible with whatever version of 32 bit AutoCAD you intend to install.

As always, it is extremely important to us that you are successful in your work. A big part of that is ensuring that DraftLogic Electrical is configured and ready-to-go. So if you need us to help you get set up, please ask for help. We don't want you spinning your wheels or battling with IT and ending up unable to run DraftLogic Electrical!

A final note for those using a network license manager for their AutoCADs: in theory, the license manager should only tie up one license for your workstation, no matter how many AutoCADs of that version you have open in your base and virtual operating systems. Let us know if you can validate or invalidate this theory and we'll update this note if need be.

Some links you may find helpful:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtua ... -2007.aspx (Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 for Vista users)

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtua ... nload.aspx (Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode download page for Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate users)

http://www.vmware.com/products/workstation/ (VMware Workstation)

http://www.vmware.com/products/player/ (VMware Player free but only for non-commercial use)
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