Why You Can’t Use the Windows 7 Problem Steps Recorder on Windows Vista or Windows XP

Since I was discussing the Windows 7 Problem Steps Recorder yesterday, it makes sense to address the most common question I get after demonstrating this feature:

Can I use it on Windows Vista / Windows XP / Windows something else?

Well, there’s nothing quite like trying it to find out! So, I copied the binary over to a Windows Vista machine, and gave it a go. And, alas, it didn’t work.

Which of course got me thinking – why not?

My first inclination was that perhaps there was a dependency on some unique feature of Windows 7, so I did some poking around to see if I could find it. But then, during a conversation with my friends Justin and Uday today, Justin turned me on to something I was unaware of: an entry in the WinPE header that determines if we’ll try to run a binary.

You can spot it using PEBrowse Professional: 0x28 bytes into the Optional Header, you find an entry for Major Operating System Version == 0x0006, and 0x2A bytes into the Optional Header, you find an entry for Minor Operating System Version == 0x0001.

And it turns out that this prevents you from running down-level. (The same would be true of, say Notepad.) This isn’t anything proprietary to us – you could do the same. Nobody really talks about it, because the error message you get isn’t … helpful … so I can’t imagine why anybody would want to subject their users to that.

But at least I got to the bottom of it.

Comments (5)

  1. S says:

    And what if you change the header field? Does it work then?

  2. cjacks says:

    I haven’t tried.

  3. ABC says:


    is it in built tool comes with window 7 or need to install it manually.?

    I dont have the windows 7 build to mess up all these.

    Please could you help me how to access this tool if it is there in windows 7.

  4. cjacks says:

    Press the start button, and then type psr to get it to pop up. It doesn’t have an entry in the start menu, for whatever reason. But it’s in system32 and therefore in the path.

  5. ABC says:


    Is there any such other exe’s which does not have the short cuts in the start menu but have a great and useful functionality?(which are newly introduced in to windows 7)


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