Lisandro has 12 years of IT support experience, with the last 6 years as a Technical Support Analyst and VMWare specialist.
Using relink to upgrade older ThinApp Applications to be used with Windows 10
This is a story about a Dinosaur.
Believe it or not, we have a customer who, up until recently, had been using Windows XP. The reason they stuck with it for so long is because it was the platform that kept the firm capable of running what I will call a Dinosaur Application – an old program, but which is still integral to business operations. It is a very archaic, 32-bit, custom-built application, designed back in 2003 by some contractor who is now long gone. This client still depends on this application for, well, everything! Furthermore, it is not in their immediate plans to go out and develop a new application. Yet it has become an unavoidable necessity to upgrade to a Windows 10 operating system, and the company is faced with the problem that the Dinosaur App might be incompatible with it.
We had already explored solutions for compatibility problems in past system updates. We helped them by setting up isolated Vmware Thinapp, having it on strategic domain machines throughout their offices. But the whole office finally got updated with new computers, all running on Windows 10.
The move to a fully-updated office was a wise move for the company. Productivity sky rockets the minute you give your employees two screens, a faster processor, and better connection. This major upgrade had an immediate positive impact.
But guess what application did not work?….Yup! The Dinosaur App. Windows 10 does not support it. The business is no less dependent on the application, so it is a problem that demands an immediate solution. What are we to do?
Innovative solution for an Antiquated Application
As we dusted off and cleaned away the cobwebs from the documentation that survived from years ago, we discovered some other limitations:
- The exact details of how the application was built remained a guessing game since the developers were long gone
- The old ThinApp application we had built years ago only worked on Windows XP
- Vmware ThinApp 5.2.0 and above cannot be installed on Windows XP
- Vmware ThinApp has support for Windows 10, but starting with ThinApp version 5.2.0. The Dinosaur Application was built by ThinApp on version 5.1.1
To run the relink utility on a ThinApp package, you need:
- The newest version of ThinApp installed on your system to be able to run relink (from that ThinApp Program Files directory
- All of the files from the ThinApp virtual applications bin folder (EXEs, MSIs, DATs). This provides more explanation.
We had to scour the internet to find guidance. There are some websites that provided some answers, but they were also a bit cryptic. In part, we had to make our own way on this solution. Here is the procedure that worked for us:
- The main thing to keep in mind is that you use a system that has the ThinApp version installed that you want to upgrade to.
- To use relink to upgrade to a higher version, such as ThinApp 5.2 or above, use the following simple syntax:
relink <path>\<path to old thinapp executable>
- This will create a .bak file which you can delete and the resulting .exe and .msi file will be an updated ThinApp to the version installed on that system. No recapture needed. Also, the project folder is not needed to use the application, just the “bin” folder.
The Knowledge Base is the key to the update and using relink. No recapture or building of the original is needed.
And this is the story about how one Dinosaur does not have to go extinct.