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Running Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000 XP & DOS software programs on
Windows 7+ using the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter


Windows 7 was designed with backward compatibility for software in mind, so that software designed to run all the way back to Windows 95 should run in Windows 7. Many XP programs and most Vista programs will run just fine with no tweaks. However, some programs may not run well or won't run at all. In that case, there are several remedies built into Windows 7. See WINDOWS 7 PROGRAM COMPATIBILITY - PART 1
Windows 7 Program Compatibility ASSISTANT versus
the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter
What is the Program Compatibility Assistant?
The Program Compatibility Assistant automatically detects known compatibility issues in older programs. After you have run an older program in Windows 7, it notifies you if there is a problem and offers to fix it the next time you run the program. If the compatibility issue is serious, the Program Compatibility Assistant might warn you or block the program from running. If that happens, you'll have the option to check online for possible solutions, or you can try the Compatibility Troubleshooter, or download the Virtual Machine / Windows XP Mode.
Automatic vs Manual Troubleshooting
The changes that the Program Compatibility Assistant makes are done automatically, so you don't need to make them. You can not run the Program Compatibility Assistant manually. It runs automatically when it detects an older program that has a compatibility problem. However, you can run the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter, a separate but related feature of Windows, which gives you 2 options for troubleshooting on a program or on a setup file if the program won't work or install correctly.

Installing a program made for an earlier version of Windows
Almost all programs compatible with Windows Vista, and the majority of Windows XP programs, run well in Windows 7 but some older programs might run poorly or not run at all.

If an older program doesn't run correctly or doesn't install, you can use the Program Compatibility troubleshooter, which can simulate an earlier version of Windows. You can run the wizard on the software's SETUP PROGRAM itself if the program doesn't install, or you can run the wizard on the program if it installs but doesn't run correctly. An additional option available is XP Virtual Machine.

INSTALLING Older Programs:

If you cannot INSTALL a program, insert the installation disc for the program and, using the Compatibility Mode Troubleshooter, browse to the program's setup file, usually called Setup.exe, Install.exe, or something similar. (The troubleshooter is not designed to work on programs that have an .msi file name extension).

To run the INSTALLATION program in compatibility mode:

1. Right-click the Installation file's icon.
2. Click Properties > Compatibility Tab.
3. Select the compatibility mode for Windows XP (or other applicable OS).
4. Click OK .
5. Run the installation program.

After the program is installed, RUN the program in Windows compatibility mode:

Open the Program Compatibility troubleshooter:

1. Right-click the Program's icon or shortcut.
2. Click Properties, then Compatibility Tab
3. Check the box for: "Run this program in compatibility mode for..." then select the OS you wish to emulate.

OR alternately...

1. Click on the Start button
2. Click Control Panel.
3. In the search box, type troubleshooter, and then click Troubleshooting.
4. Under Programs, click Run programs made for previous versions of Windows.
5. Select your program, and choose the OS you want to run it in.

Detailed information on running the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter

Finally, if the above doesn't work, and if you have Windows Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate, then you can try Windows XP Virtual Machine/Windows XP mode. (Not available for Home versions of Windows 7). If any program previously ran fine in XP, you can run it in Windows XP Mode via the Virtual Machine.

Installing a program made for an earlier version of Windows
Windows XP mode is, in fact, a virtual machine that runs like a real machine but with Windows XP running inside the Windows 7 operating system. In this virtual machine you can use any application that runs on Windows XP. When you install a program in Windows XP Mode, the program becomes available for use in both Windows XP Mode and Windows 7. For 64-bit editions of Windows 7, XP Mode may be used to run 16-bit applications.

Windows XP Mode was primarily designed to help businesses move from Windows XP to Windows 7. It isn't optimized for graphic-intensive programs such as 3D games, nor is it well suited for programs with hardware requirements such as TV tuners. Some hardware and devices that work in Windows 7 might not work in Windows XP Mode. They might not be detected in Windows XP Mode. However, if a program previously ran in XP, then you can run it in Windows XP Mode.

To use Windows XP Mode, you need to download and install Virtual Machine/Windows XP Mode, which is a fully licensed version of Windows XP with Service Pack 3. Then download & install Windows Virtual PC, which is the program that runs virtual operating systems on your computer.

See requirements below.

This VIDEO will guide you through the process of installing both Windows XP Mode & Virtual PC:  Installing & Using Windows XP Mode - VIDEO

Download Windows XP Mode & Virtual PC:
Download Virtual Machine/Windows XP Mode & Windows Virtual PC


Running Windows XP Mode requires:

1. Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate editions. Home edition is not eligible for the free download.

2. A computer capable of hardware virtualization. This means your computer has a central processing unit (CPU) with either Intel-VT or AMD-V virtualization features*.

*Previously, the CPU and motherboard had to both support hardware virtualization, but an UPDATE in early 2010 became available to remove the HAV requirement for using Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC in Windows 7. For information about this update, see Why am I receiving errors about hardware-assisted virtualization (HAV) when I try to use Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC?

To find your brand of processor so you can download the appropriate utility, click the Start button, right-click Computer, and then click Properties. Under System, next to Processor, you can see what type of CPU you have.

You should only install this update if your computer DOES NOT support HAV. To determine whether your computer’s CPU is capable of hardware virtualization, go to the Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC support website, and then download and run the Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool that can check whether your Intel or AMD CPU is compatible.

3. Virtualization features turned on in your computer’s basic input/output system (BIOS).

Even if your CPU can run Windows XP Mode, you might also need to turn on virtualization settings in your computer’s BIOS. Procedures vary depending on the BIOS manufacturer.

Windows Virtual PC Windows XP Mode & BIOS Info

If the above information seems complicated, be sure to watch the VIDEO. Not as complicated as it seems

If you don't have the right version or if your computer doesn't support Hardware virtualization, then your only other resource would be to go to 3rd party virtualization programs that don't have these requirements, such as:
VMLite XP Mode Alternative to Windows XP Mode for Windows 7

For older versions of Windows (XP,98,95) you may want to consider "Virtualbox"

Additional Information: Windows XP Mode & Windows Virtual PC

Windows 7 does not have a 16-bit sub-system so DOS applications will not run directly on the OS. Applications which most commonly have compatibility issues are what are referred to as kernal mode applications and old 16-bit applications. Further, some 32-bit applications that would normally run OK will not INSTALL because they use a 16-bit installer.
16-bit Program Installers
Windows 7 32-bit edition should be able to run 32-bit programs with "16-bit installers" under Windows 95 or Windows98/ME Compatibility mode. However, programs with "16-bit installers" will not install on Windows 7 x64 edition under the same compatibility mode.

In that case, if you have Windows 7 Ultimate or Professional, download Virtual Machine/Windows XP mode (free from MS) and run them in that. (Not available for Windows 7 Home edition).

If you are trying to install a DOS program, the most efficient method is to download & install DOSbox, a DOS emulator...

Running DOS Programs on XP, Vista, Windows 7

A program written for DOS can be run on an IBM compatible PC using either DOS, Windows 3.1 or WINDOWS 95/98/ME/(XP) for an operating system. DOS is not supported in Vista, Windows 7, and sometimes XP.

For users who wants to play old games or even applications which are not supported on the newer versions of Windows...

There is a utility called DOSBox (a DOS emulator) that will run on XP, Vista, Windows 7 32-bit, and Windows 7 64-bit that you can use to run your old DOS programs and games. DOSBox is a full CPU emulator, capable of running DOS programs that require the CPU to be in either real mode or protected mode.

The DOSbox emulator is a free program. It can be downloaded from:

IMPORTANT: Make sure after downloading the emulator you follow the instructions on the download page to 'mount' the directory where your old programs are located.

TIP: Running Windows 3.1 Games

Most Windows 3.1 games come with a DOS counterpart that can be run using DOSbox.


To make sure you have the most up-to-date troubleshooters from the Windows Online Troubleshooting Service, your computer should be connected to the Internet. For more information, see Troubleshooting in Windows.

Compatibility Tab:
Changing Compatibility Settings Manually

To change compatibility settings manually for a program:

1) Right-click the program's icon.
2) Click Properties.
3) Click the Compatibility Tab.

Setting: Compatibility mode
Runs the program using settings from a previous version of Windows. Try this setting if you know the program is designed for (or worked in) a specific previous version of Windows.

See Below for Advanced Compatibility Manual Settings Chart

Advanced Users: Changing Compatibility Settings Manually
To change compatibility settings manually for a program:  1) right-click the program icon   2) click Properties    3) then click the Compatibility Tab.
Setting Description
Compatibility mode: Runs the program using settings from a previous version of Windows. Try this setting if you know the program is designed for (or worked in) a specific previous version of Windows.
Run in 256 colors: Uses a limited set of colors in the program. Some older programs are designed to use fewer colors.
Run in 640 480 screen resolution: Runs the program in a smaller-sized window. Try this setting if the graphical user interface appears jagged or is rendered improperly.
Disable visual themes: Disables themes on the program. Try this setting if you notice problems with the menus or buttons on the title bar of the program.
Disable desktop composition: Turns off transparency and other advanced display features. Choose this setting if window movement appears erratic or you notice other display problems.
Disable display scaling on high DPI settings: Turns off automatic resizing of programs if large-scale font size is in use. Try this setting if large-scale fonts are interfering with the appearance of the program. For more information, see Make the text on your screen larger or smaller.
Privilege level: Runs the program as an administrator. Some programs require administrator privileges to run properly. If you are not currently logged on as an administrator, this option is not available.
Change settings for all users: Lets you choose settings that will apply to all users on this computer.

Running Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000 & XP software programs on
Windows 7 using the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter

Run older programs on:  XP, Vista, Windows 7 - Compatibility Wizards:
Tips for XP USERS    Tips for VISTA USERS    Tips for WINDOWS 7 USERS

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