Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 Missing or Hidden Dialog Controls on VMWare

This is an oddity with Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 installed on the a virtual machine that I’ve run into that perhaps one in a hundred other VMWare Workstation users might run into. I’m running VMWare Workstation 6.5.3 on a Windows 7 x64 box with 8GB of RAM. In turn, I’m spinning up a Windows 7 x64 virtual machine with 3GB of RAM and two cores (a primary reason for buying the VMWare license over Virtual PC). And of course, I had 3D graphics acceleration turned on, because who wouldn’t want some acceleration, right?

But here’s what the New Project dialog and other “add” dialogs looked like (note: I’ve reduced the size of these as the nitty gritty details are not as important as the visualization of the controls, here you don’t see them and later you will):


Note the black (or rather dark blue) abyss at the bottom of the dialog. As near as I can tell, the normally light blue section was gone and inaccessible visually. I’m not certain, but I surmised that it was still there as I was able to tab into the darkness and then out of it again.

After trying various Windows 7 video personalization settings, I then tried increasing video memory in the VMX file, but that was a non-starter. Then an odd hunch led me to try this:


Once I saved that 3D graphics setting unchecked and spun up the virtual machine, I noticed two things. First, the virtual machine seemed more responsive. Second, and more importantly, controls were back in sight. This pleasing view is now what I see (minus my crudely drawn red circle of course):


There was a moment when I thought to blame Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 for this anomaly but of course some brief thought and sparing a brain cell or two for reasoning and cognitive function resulted in the conclusion that something with video driver and perhaps Windows 7 or Windows in general or just my machine did not like some video setting. Happily, the 3D graphics checkbox was the first thing I tried to disable on the VMWare settings and shazam, it worked.

If you run VMWare Workstation and have problems with Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 in your virtual machine with missing or invisible controls in certain dialogs and other UI elements, try disabling the 3D graphics option. I still highly recommend VMWare Workstation over Virtual PC, though I must admit that I have not tried Windows Virtual PC in its latest incarnation for Windows 7. The last time I tried it was in the VPC 2007 edition. If you believe the latest version has come up to par with VMWare, I’d love to hear from you.