Fix Visual Studio 2003 locking up in Windows 10

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In Windows 10, Visual Studio 2003 has some very annoying issues when trying to run. For example:

  • The application locks up when you search through code
  • Application preview doesn't render anything when you hover over it

File:VS 2003 Bug.png

The bug happens on Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10 because of Aero. While in Windows Vista/7 this isn't a huge problem because you can easily disable Aero, in Windows 8 and 10 there is no way to fully turn it off. Fortunately though, the bug is really easy to fix.

  • Step 1: Open regedit.exe. Go to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers. (If the Layers key does not exist, create it).

Create a String with the name C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003\Common7\IDE\devenv.exe. (If you installed Visual Studio 2003 on another drive replace C:\ with the drive you installed it on. If you are on 32-bit erase the (x86) from Program Files)

The value data should be ^ RUNASADMIN DISABLEDWM DISABLETHEMES

File:Regedit VS 2003.png

  • Step 2: Close Visual Studio if it is open.
  • Step 3: Start it again. You should get a UAC prompt, click "Yes" and continue.
  • Step 4: Everything should be fixed! It won't lock up anymore, and previews work too. You can now compile and build apps with your 16 year old software with ease!