Visual Studio solutions don’t load when you double-click on them

When I installed Windows 7, double-clicking on .SLN files to load them in Visual Studio stopped working – I would get the hourglass for a few moments, and then nothing. It turns out that it’s because I had set Visual Studio to always run as an Administrator, but when you double-click a .SLN file, you’re not actually running Visual Studio – you’re running the “Visual Studio Version Selector”, even if you only have one version of Visual Studio installed.

To resolve the problem, you’ll need to set the Version Selector to also run as an Administrator – to do this, find the Version Selector EXE:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\microsoft shared\MSEnv\VSLauncher.EXE (or “Program Files (x86)” if you have an x64 installation)

Right-click on it, go to the “Compatibility” tab, and check the box that says “Run this program as an administrator”. Since I have multiple users on my laptop that I use for development, I had to click “Change Settings for all users” before checking the “Run as admin” box.

Voila! The VS Version Selector will now properly load the solution files when you double-click on them – enjoy!

Expand a disk partition under Windows XP or Server 2003

Vista/Server 2008 include support for expanding hard disk partitions in the Disk Management MMC snap-in, but XP/2003 support it as well (if you’re not afraid of the command line). To expand a partition:

  1. Open a command window
  2. Type “DISKPART” and press Enter to run the partition manager
  3. “LIST DISK” and press enter to show general disk information, including unused space
  4. “LIST VOLUME” to show the volumes. Make note of the volume you’d like to modify
  5. “SELECT VOLUME 0”, where “0” is actually the volume number you’re expanding
  6. “EXTEND” to expand the partition into all available space
  7. “EXIT” to leave DISKPART

There you go – enjoy your newly expanded partition, with no reboot necessary!

WARNING: Messing with your partitions can cause serious problems, including losing the ability to boot Windows or permanently deleting data. Only use this utility to if you know what you’re doing! You’ve been warned!

Resolving “STOP 0x0000007B INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE” after you make changes to your hard drive configuration

I’d heard that, unlike previous versions of Windows, a Vista installation could be moved to a new computer without any problems, and would just re-detect all the hardware and reconfigure itself. So when I got my new computer, I imaged my boot partition to the new hard drive (it was much bigger than my old one), attempted to boot Vista, and got this error:

STOP: 0x0000007B (0x818B51B0, 0xC00000010, 0x00000000,0x00000000) INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE

WTF? After much digging, it turns out that my new motherboard had AHCI enabled by default, whereas my old one didn’t. This is a SATA standard that supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ), special power management, and some other features. While Vista supports it out of the box, if no AHCI drives are connected when Vista is installed, it disables the drivers, and any attempt to switch to AHCI mode later will give you a blue screen at boot time. The general consensus online is that you have to reinstall Windows, but you do not!

To resolve the error:

    1. In the system BIOS, switch AHCI mode off. This will probably mean something like “Compatibility mode” for the drive – look for a setting that sounds like it does this, either for the controller or the drive itself. This will allow you to boot into Windows again
      1. a.  If you still can’t boot into Windows, you may need to rebuild the boot sector – not as scary as it sounds! Boot the the Vista install DVD, and when prompted, select “Repair installation”. After thinking for about 15 seconds, the install should say that it’s found the problem and corrected it, and you can reboot – Vista should come right up after that.
    2. Once you’re in Windows, load REGEDIT and navigate to [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Msahci]
    3. Set the value “Start” to “0”. This will tell Windows to search for AHCI drives when it boots.

Reboot, and switch your hard drive back into AHCI mode when you do. Windows will boot, detect it, and install drivers. It will probably ask you to reboot again

  1. Resolved! Windows boots on your old Vista installation. Aside from this minor hiccup, Vista did indeed cooperate with my new hardware – it detected everything and came right up. It asked me to reactivate, but since it’s a corporate copy, that was no big deal.