Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Troubleshooting SysFader crashes in Windows on Parallels 3.0 for Mac

If you see something like this:
SysFader Crash

After a lot of googling, there are two likely causes of see crashes like this:
  1. Page Transition Animations. Something is wrong with your graphics card driver and is causing fade animations to crash
  2. Office 2003 and Office 2007 installed side-by-side. I know, how could this go wrong ;-)

You really have no idea which one is going to solve the problem for you. What was causing this crash every time was trying to open an MS Office document from a Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 site.

Door Number 1
I found number 1 above as a possible cause of my SysFader crashes first, so I did all the workaround steps on Windows Server 2003 (SP2, but it doesn't matter):
  1. Go to Display Properties -> Appearance -> Effects -> Uncheck Use the following transition effect for menus and tooltips
  2. When that didn't work, in Internet Explorer, goto to Internet Properties -> Advanced -> Browsing -> Uncheck Enable Page Transitions

When this didn't work, and I hadn't found number 2 yet, I started thinking through what it could possibly be. These were the possibilities I came up with:
  • Parallels General VM Bug - I am on the latest Leopard compatibility beta, 3.0 5570, so entirely possible. Once I searched through the Parallels Mac Public Beta forum, and no one had reported the SysFader issue, so I weighted the probability of this down.
  • Parallels Video Driver Bug - I turned off video driver acceleration, I still had the issue, so I also weighted the probability of this down.
  • User Profile Corruption - After I discounted the Parallels probability, I started failing back on standard Windows troubleshooting. An easy way to verify if an issue is profile related is to logon to the same system with a different account. I did that, logging on as local Administrator, and the problem went away. Or at least I thought. After I repeatedly tried to download Office documents from SharePoint, I went and deleted my main user profile. I backed up everything of course first, but still, I wiped it out. Then a few hours later, the Administrator account started doing the same thing. I started to get angry, I actually think the first though was fucking Windows, but I just started googling again.

Door Number 2
Then I found Jeff Widmer's Blog, who linked to Paul Wu's Blog which suggested renaming a DLL that gets installed with Office 2007, that SharePoint attempts to load when opening any Office document. Why rename it? Because I have Office 2003 applications also installed, and there is a bug in this DLL, OWSSUPP.DLL, that got through QA. Sure enough, renamed this file to OWSSUPP.DLLX (name doesn't matter), fixes my problem, but doesn't show a nag dialog like Paul suggests. I would imagine that before you install Office 2007 SP1, whenever that gets released, you should rename the file back to the expected name, and hopefully the fix for this issue is included in the service pack.