December 14, 2007

Even Virtual Windows Can Drive You Nuts

I've been a very happy VMWare Fusion customer for a few months now. Getting into the world of dual operating systems on my MacBook Pro has been almost universally rewarding from day one - starting with ditching my old Dell laptop, and being able to use Microsoft Outlook, use Internet Explorer 7 and other applications unavailable to us Mac folks - but in a single virtual window, letting me use the Mac the other 95% of the time.

Yet, the other day, while working on e-mail or catching up on RSS feeds, I heard the familiar "Windows is shutting down" chimes, and confirmed it by looking at my VMWare Fusion application. In full text, Windows was informing me my settings were being saved, and indeed, the operating system was shutting down. And no, I didn't tell it to, and no, I don't have any idea why. I told a friend at work, who laughed and said, "Windows needs a reason to shut down?"

I caught Windows in the act of bailing on me this morning...

It happened again yesterday morning. Going to my VMWare Fusion application, I sent the Ctrl-Alt-Del command to the Windows virtual machine, and it didn't come up. I closed Fusion and reopened it. Still no dice. I went to my virtual machine library, selected Windows XP and hit "Run". Nothing. It actually took rebooting the Mac for the Windows virtual machine to launch correctly again!

So guess what... 10 minutes ago, I heard the chimes again. Windows is shutting down. Again. Without rhyme or reason. Again. Now, I have to see if I can trick it into relaunching without making me reboot my Mac. Again.

I'm happy I'm not using Windows as my primary operating system, but even this is annoying. How do people live with themselves day to day in this type of OS hell? Ridiculous.


  1. Louis,
    While I'll not get into the Mac/Windows debate, this sounds more like a problem with VMware Fusion than with Windows. Contrary to popular myth, Windows does not shut down automatically without a reason, so something is telling the OS to do so. Also, that it seems that you need to reboot the Mac to restart the VMware Fusion Windows session indicates something strange going on with that application.

    Since I'm not a Mac or Fusion user (I do run VMware Workstation on Linux & Windows) I can't offer many suggestions other than to check out VMware's site & support forums. Might be something there.

    I do have my Windows systems shut down/restart without my intervention by the way. I've set the "Windows Update" feature to reboot as necessary during the night when there are new updates. ;)

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  2. "How do people live with themselves day to day in this type of OS hell?"

    Well, most of us don't.

    Sun's been telling us for a LONG time that "the network's the computer" and they're right. With computers starting at about $300, most of us just network multiple computers together. Right now, I'm playing music on my wife's computer, and compiling an application on a linux box while using an XP Pro box to reply to you.

    VMWare is "Dancing Bear" software. The wonder is not how well the bear dances, but that he dances at all.

    The queen eats fruit and candy, the bishop nuts and cheese.
    And when I am a grown man, I'll taste just what I please -
    The honey from the bee, the shellfish from the sea,
    The earth, the wind, a girl, someone to share these things with me.

  3. Start->Run->EventVwr

    Look at the events that happen around shutdown time (most likely in the System section). The obvious one to look for to find has a source of EventLog - this is the startup/shutdown of the event logging service it's self. Then work your way back in time.

    You might then see what is causing the shutdown.

  4. So far, my guess is that Windows had some updates that required a shutdown and they executed in the background. I'll look for that. But the oddity of not starting right back up was disconcerting. This time, I just restored from a snapshot from Dec. 10th, and that started fine... but if it asks for the same updates, we just could be in an infinite loop. I'll figure it out.