One way or another, you can almost always get older software — even ancient Windows 3.0–era apps — to run on the newest 32- and 64-bit systems.
Plus: Saved Web favorites suddenly vanish, a USB flash drive becomes permanently formatted as a CD, and a free way to view and control your PC from a phone or tablet.
App’s 16-bit installer won’t run on Win7/8
Reader Del Suggs wants help with setting up antiquated software on his newer PCs.
- “I need to install an old program on my Win7 and Win8.1 machines. Although the program is 32-bit, it uses a 16-bit installer that no longer runs on current Windows. Can I install the program without using the installer? Are there other options?
Wow! Most 16-bit software was written for either pre-Windows DOS or Windows 3.0/3.1.
Fortunately, there are various ways to get apps of almost any age to run on today’s Windows. Here are four possible solutions:
Option 1: Run the software directly. For some software — especially early Windows applications — the installer is a convenience; it’s not really needed to run the program.
But to know whether this is the case, you have to experiment. Use Windows Explorer to examine the files that make up the software package. Ignore any files labeled install.exe, setup.exe, or anything similar. Try launching any other .exe files included with the software. With luck, you’ll find that the main program file runs fine without the installer.
Option 2: Use Windows’ built-in Compatibility Troubleshooter. Windows 7 and 8 have an automated troubleshooter that can often detect and correct problems that prevent older software from running. Here’s how to access it:
- Open Control Panel, enter “troubleshooting” into the Control Panel search box, and then click the Troubleshooting listing.
- In the Troubleshoot computer problems dialog box, click Run programs made for previous versions of Windows. (Figure 1 shows the Win7 troubleshooter; Win8’s is nearly identical.) Follow the on-screen instructions as they appear.
Option 3: Try Windows’ compatibility-mode settings. Here’s how. (Win7’s is shown; Vista’s and Win8’s work much the same.)
- Right-click on the software’s installation or setup file and select Properties. In the Properties dialog box, select the Compatibility tab.
- Tick the checkbox labeled Run this program in compatibility mode for: (see Figure 2).