Virtual PC in Europe - Fix for the Dreaded Sticky Ctrl Key Bug!

Virtual PC in Europe - Fix for the Dreaded Sticky Ctrl Key Bug!

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I know many developers who rely on Virtual PC 2004 these days, both for application compatibility testing purposes and also for beta testing releases of Visual Studio 2005 ("Whidbey") and SQL Server 2005 ("Yukon"). A few colleagues and I have been trying to track down a little issue for some time, and I wanted to share it more broadly outside of Microsoft to see if anyone else has had the same problem.

The problem is this: when you toggle a Virtual PC guest into full screen mode with [Alt Gr]+[Enter], the [Ctrl] key often gets "stuck" down. If you start typing in the guest, you often see funny things happen: the taskbar goes into multi-select mode; some characters don't appear etc. Hitting the [Ctrl] key once resets it and brings you back to normal.

A few of us raised this as a bug with the Virtual PC team, and it turns out to be a problem specific to UK keyboards (and possibly others in Europe). The [Alt Gr] key is effectively the same as pressing [Ctrl] + [Alt] together; when you release it, VPC only toggles off the [Alt] portion of the keystroke, leaving [Ctrl] held down as far as the guest is concerned.

The solution: change the host key to something else on a UK Virtual PC machine. I can recommend [Right Ctrl], since it's not used for anything else. Once you make this change, you'll never again have this problem - toggling to and from full screen works just fine. The bug has been fixed moving forwards too, which is good news.

  • Thank you very much!!!!
    I had this problem a lot of times with my Italian Keyboard!
    Thanks a lot!!!
  • This is also a problem with VPC and Swedish keyboards.

    A similar problem seems to exist on the Remote Desktop client. I can only use ALT GR characters if I press CTRL+ALT instead.
  • Jason, Alt Gr is by default reserved as the host key of course. But are you still unable to use this key in the guest even if you've changed the host key to something else?
  • SMART Workflow enhances the approval workflow for SPS / WSS ...
  • "The bug has been fixed moving forwards too" what about when the bug is moving backwards?
  • Tim, in VPC I am able to use ALT GR when the host key is changed to right CTRL.

    But I know of no solution in the Remote Desktop client.
  • Jason, that's odd, because it works for me.

    From Windows XP, I created a Remote Desktop Connection to my Windows Server 2003 machine. I could type symbols like € (AltGr+4 on a British keyboard) without problems. You might need to call Product Support if you're not content to use Ctrl+Alt - they might be able to help you further.
  • I too am having the same problem við Remote Desktop (like many others here in Iceland). :(

    So if somebody know of a fix for that... that would be just great :)
  • I have had problems using other keys than modifiers (i.e. Shift, Control, Alt, Windows) as host keys: E.g. You can use Pause as a host key, but you won't be able to toggle full screen mode using Pause+Enter. Have anyone else experienced this problem?
    (As a curiosity, this also applies to Right Windows on my Dell laptop where I have to press Fn+Windows since there is only one of them).

    This has been driving me nuts for months.

    I much appreciate the work around.

    I hope there's an SP for VPC soon with a real fix.
  • Tim and AtliB,
    I just checked with Remote Desktop (to a Windows 2000 Server and a Windows Server 2003) again and now it works... Hmmm...

    I'm sure I've had problems with this before since I remember getting annoyed when trying to write a backslash (ALT GR + "+" on a Swedish keyboard).
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