Running Airmail under Windows Vista
There's certainly been a lot of discussion about Windows Vista. If your new computer came with Vista then that's great, it works fine. But if you have the option of using Windows-XP then that would be our recommendation. Win-XP is robust and reliable, if yours is not then something has been compromised and you need to fix it or start over-- upgrading won't help.
Airmail runs fine under Windows Vista, but there are a couple of issues related to new Vista security features-- the "release notes" message keeps re-appearing on each restart, as does a "pop-up" box that the configuration has been updated. The simplest fix is to delete the release notes ("amupdate.msg" from Airmail's Import folder, under Program Files) and the "system.sailmail.txt" text-file in the Airmail folder. Also Right-click Airmail's desktop icon and select "properties", click on "compatibility" tab and then check the "Run in compatibility mode" box and select "Windows-XP", this will enable Airmail's COM-port identification.
Alternately you can run Airmail as an administrator, that will allow Airmail full access to its own files. (By default Vista "demotes" administrators to normal users). Right-click Airmail's desktop icon and select "properties", click on "compatibility" tab and then check two boxes: run in compatibility mode for Windows-XP, and run as administrator. This will allow Airmail to have full access to its own folders and delete the release-notes and configuration files.
The third option is to turn off UAC (see below). This has the same effect as running Airmail as an administrator, but also extends admin privileges to all other programs (including malicious code if you are not careful about computer security).
The culprit with all this is a new security feature in Win-Vista called "UAC" (User Account Control). (Remember, if you can do anything useful with your computer then it is not sufficiently secure). UAC is a watchdog service that warns you if you (or a program) are trying to do something that requires administrator privileges, e.g. delete protected files or run a program not specifically designed for Vista. And, if a program attempts to write into protected areas (e.g. the "program files" folder), then access is diverted to a virtual folder created for that user. The result, for Airmail, is a mild case of schizophrenia, and release-notes that just keep reappearing because the file (in Airmail's Program Files/Import folder) can't be deleted.
Running Airmail in administrative mode (by checking the "run as administrator" box, above) allows Airmail to fully access its own files and resolves that problem. Also, turning off UAC will accomplish the same thing. To turn off UAC go to Windows Control panel, open "User Accounts" and find "User Account Control".
There is one wrinkle with changing the run-as-administrator setting and/or turning off UAC after Airmail has been run: Your messages and settings may disappear. This is because Vista was previously diverting Airmail's files to a "virtual" folder, and with UAC off (or run-as-administrator selected) it will stop doing this. The fix is to move your messages back to the "proper" folder: Close Airmail, open Windows Explorer (under "Accessories" in the Windows start menu), find "Computer", then C-drive, Users, your user-name, AppData, Local, VirtualStore, then "Program Files" and finally "Airmail". In that folder you will find all of your message-folders and settings files-- move the whole lot to the Airmail folder that is under Program Files. If the UAC/admin settings change again then Vista will start diverting Airmail's files again-- but you now know where to go and fetch them back.
Note: Windows does not like to show the contents of system folders: Open Windows-Explorer's "Tools" menu, "Folder Options". Click the "View" tab, and check "Show hidden files and folders", NO check for "Hide file extensions for known file types", NO check for "Hide protected operating system files" (and click "Yes" to the confirmation). This will show all files, and also show file-extensions.
Running Airmail as administrator will show a warning box each time it is run, and turning off UAC will show a warning with each reboot, those are unavoidable. And of course if you turn off UAC be doubly-careful to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.
Help file: Vista does not include the program to display the traditional help files, "Winhlp32.exe". This may be available for download, alternately it can be copied from Windows-XP C:\Windows folder. To do this you will first need to set the permissions for the C:\Windows folder to allow Administrators full access, and to do this you will need to first take ownership (right-click the Windows folder, select properties, then Security tab, Advanced button, Owner tab, Edit button). Then copy the complete (277KB) Winhlp32.exe from Win-XP over the 9KB "stub" Winhlp32.exe on Win-Vista.
The upcoming Airmail 3.4 update will fix all this, moving message-folders into Win-Vista's "ProgramData" user-space and gathering up any virtual-folders that were created. The help file will also be converted to HTML format. The goal is for Airmail to run smoothly under Vista's highest security settings but this will take some effort.
--Jim (revised Mar 5 2008)