How to Make Old Programs Work in Windows Vista and 7

Many good programs and games that were written for Windows XP have problems in Windows Vista or Windows 7. There are two approaches to getting older applications to work in the more recent operating systems and they are the subject of this tip.

Compatibility Mode

Compatibility Mode is a way of trying to run a program as if it were in a different operating system.

  1. Right-click the icon or executable file for a program
  2. Choose  "Properties"
  3. Click the "Compatibility" tab
  4. If desired, click the button “Change settings for all users”
  5. Put a check by “Run this program in compatibility mode for:”
  6. In the drop-down menu, choose the older operating system that applies
  7. Click “Apply” and “OK”

With luck, this will get your application to work. However, Compatibility Mode does not succeed much of the time and there is another, more advanced approach.

Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit

A different way to attack compatibility problems is to download and install a free program from Microsoft called the Application Compatibility Toolkit. The download page is here. This toolkit has a number of features and a good tutorial on how to use it is given at TechRadar. Getting an old application to run properly may take some effort but it could be worth it to keep an old standby working.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs a Windows blog called The PC Informant and also operates a computer education website.

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