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.

  • I had the problem with a FR keyboard and the remote desktop client in full screen mode.
    Here is the SOLUTION:
    I translate from french so... try to guess if the words are not exactly the same.
    Show options in the remote desktop client;
    Select the local ressources tab;
    in the keybord part, select the line 'keep the alt+tab combination to local machine'... well something like that.
    That should help a bit...
  • As stated in this thread there are often problems with ALT GR key combinations and the Remote Desktop client (mstsc.exe).
    On my PC I was able to make the "Alt Gr" work as expected again very easily (for XP), but hard to find out:
    Open Control Panel -> Regional and Language Options -> Languages Tab -> Details Button
    In the Dialog "Text Services and Input Languages" press the Button "Key Settings". If that button is disabled, just add another language with the "Add" button.
    In the "Advanced Key Settings" dialog press "Change Key Sequence" for "Switch between input languages". Now you are close:
    In the "Change Key Sequence" Dialog uncheck "Switch keyboard layout" and confirm the change through the series of dialogs.
    You may remove the extra language if you like.
    In my test, however, I found that the problem does not occur with more than one language/keyboard configured.
    I hope, that's it. What are your results?
  • I've also had problems with the <TAB> and <ESC> keys not working on the guest machine... and I'm using a US Keyboard.
  • Verdens mest ligegyldige blog &raquo; Remote Desktop og AltGr
  • same problem in WIN2003 terminal server with some RDP clients, (not all)

    Right ctrl+ALT works fine
    Alt Gr key not working with some clients ?

    is there a fix from MS ?
  • This fix did not work for me. I have an IBM laptop. I have heard of other people have problems with US IBM laptops (which do not have a Windows key) running Virtual PC. The problem isn't necessarily just a keyboard problem. I have seen cases where the keyboard input is not displayed, but Right Alt-P (pause) shows the input in the paused window. The Ctrl key theory doesn't seem to fit.

    If you can't get your keyboard working during a demo, use Remote Desktop Connection to connect to your virtual machine.
  • Thanx, this helped me out!!

    I am happy now.
  • THX very much - the annoying problem has vanished !
    I had the problem that the ALT-GR did not work in my RDP-Sessions (LEFTALT + Scancode on the numeric pad i.e LEFTALT+64 for @ worked. Also a double hit of the ALTGR worked @ = { Hit ALTGR then hold ALTGR and press "q"} but I had to double hit ALTGR again to access normal chars afterwards). Deactivation of the second language and thus the hot-key did not work either. Finally switching the hot-key in double language mode (on the local machine !)to STRG+SHIFT helped !
  • My problem is another:
    I can't use ALT-GR in the guest OSes.
    My Host-Key is the Windows or the right control-key. Using VPC2004-SP1.
    ALT-GR combinations like \ or @ only work this way:
    PRESS+HOLD ALT-GR
    PRESS+RELEASE left Control-Key
    Hit the \ or @ key
    RELEASE ALT-GR

    Is this problem also known? Or is there a fix or workaround?
  • Another problem I get with DOS:
    Sometimes the Shift-Key seems to change to pressed state. This occurs when moving around with the cursor (cursor-key is held down).
    A very annoying thing, you just want to scroll trhough a text, and are suddenly marking it! And the Shift-State will remain then!!

    But now I have a solution for this, and I'm posting here for other people that are searching about their VPC-Keyboard-problems.

    Solution:
    The Key-Repeat-Rate of the host-OS is too fast. Don't know how that affects VPC and the guest-OS in detail, but if you make the key-repeat-rate slower in your host-windows, the problem dissappears!

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