Windows 10 update panic: Older VMware Workstation Pro app broken

Desperate users playing with the compatibility system to work again

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The Windows 10 update may block the execution of older applications

Windows 10 users have complained since the end of week that VMware Workstation no longer runs after a cumulative update of Windows 10 prevents it from starting.

Only previous versions of VMware Workstation are affected, but even users willing to pay for an update may face other compatibility issues.

The culprit appears to be KB4517211, which updates Windows 10 to build 18362.387. Although not mentioned in the knowledge base, this update adds entries to the Windows compatibility database, the result is that when trying to run VMware Workstation 14 or lower, the message "VMware Workstation Pro cannot run on Windows" appears. .

on the Microsoft site, an affected user complained that updating their 100 VMware Workstation licenses would cost € 11,500.

However, there are other factors. A user trying to run the GNS3 network software discovered that after the update, the software was no longer working. In addition, the latest versions of VMware do not work on some older processors, so an update is not always possible.

Windows maintains this type of compatibility information in a Shim database called sysmain.sdb. This is part of the Application Compatibility Framework, which can patch applications on the fly and inform the user about compatibility issues. Some desperate users (not only in the case of VMware) have tried to replace this file with an earlier version so that blocked applications run.

This is not a solid strategy, since it is a component of the system and playing with it could be unpredictable. effects on other applications or system stability. Also, relaxing permissions on sysmain.sdb could make it a security vulnerability.

That said, some users who did it later reported that VMware 14 works, leaving them baffled about why Microsoft decided to block it. [19659005] Another solution is to block the update, but it seems likely that a future update will cause the problem to return. Blocking updates is also not a good long-term strategy, as it leaves Windows 10 vulnerable to security issues.

Many older applications work fine in Windows 10 and, in general, compatibility is fair. However, low-level applications, such as hypervisors, are more likely to encounter problems, which makes these types of problems understandable. What is needed is a better mechanism to mark problems in advance so that administrators have the opportunity to prepare. ®

Hat tip for Mayank Parmar for detecting the error.

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