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Ham Radio Deluxe Newsletter | 18-September 2020

Trending Issues Related to 64-bit Microsoft Office Updates

The purpose of this email is to advise you all about a trend that's accelerating recently.

What's the problem?

When operators install the 64-bit version of Microsoft Office, or updates are applied to it, Ham Radio Deluxe Logbook loses its connection to its databases. The resulting error message pops up:

"The operating system is not presently configured to run this application"

At this point, Logbook can only be closed from Windows Task Manager. Logbook then is unable to connect to the databases.

The most important thing is - the databases aren't deleted by this. No data loss occurs. (Additionally, Logbook is pre-configured to make backups of the logbook.)

This problem will affect ANY version of Ham Radio Deluxe, when the 64-bit version of Microsoft Office is installed or updated on the computer where Ham Radio Deluxe is running.

WHY does this happen?

I wrote about this in a blog entry on our webpage titled - "The Problem With Microsoft Access"

Ham Radio Deluxe is a 32-bit application. Its database is Microsoft Access. As such, Ham Radio Deluxe Logbook requires a 32-bit version of Access to connect to the databases. When no version of Access is otherwise installed on the computer, Logbook uses a 32-bit version of Access called "Access Runtime."

Microsoft has been moving away from 32-bit platform support for a while now. For example, you can't buy the 32-bit version of the Windows operating system anymore and they only allow computer manufacturers to ship computers with the 64-bit version of Windows installed. Microsoft no longer makes a 32-bit version of Access Runtime that works with the most recent versions of Microsoft Office (which is why Logbook uses either the 2007 or 2013 version).

We know that ham radio operators will "squeeze a penny until it screams." We've tried to continue 32-bit support for as long as we can. (That said - the point of this newsletter isn't related to support for 32-bit versions of the software.)

When the 64-bit version of Microsoft Office is updated, it breaks the connection that the 32-bit version of Access Runtime had to the database.

WHAT can you do in the near term?

With the latest version of our support site, you should always begin by going to https://support.hamradiodeluxe.com and putting the error message in the search. In this case, searching for "The operating system is not presently configured to run this application" renders an article that contains a number of options. (I'm not posting them in this newsletter in case what we've written may require updates.)

(Note: I had this happen to me last week. I ran through the procedure I wrote and was back "in-business" within about 3 minutes.)

Please do visit the support site for the most current information about this. Because this is the fastest way to get to a resolution, please try this before opening a support request.

WHAT is HRD Software planning to do about this?

First of all - there's no code that we can write that can prevent this from happening as long as Microsoft Access is the underlying database that Logbook uses.

We have a few choices.

We could move to a 64-bit version of Ham Radio Deluxe and end support for the 32-bit version of it. At this stage, that doesn't seem like a great idea.

The better approach is to move away from Microsoft Access as the database engine. (This needs to happen to add support for non-Windows operating systems anyway.)

The most likely candidate is Microsoft SQL Server Express (yes, it also runs on Linux).

Getting this done is on the development short-list. It's one of the top priorities.

That said - it won't make this November 2020 release. It will come into view in the release that follows. When it comes to making changes that have a chance of causing data loss, we take them very seriously. We will proceed with caution.

As this topic progresses, we'll provide updates through the newsletter or we'll post them on our support site. (We have put a lot of effort into making solutions for common questions available on the support site. Searching the site is always a great first step.)


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