How to Run Old, Incompatible Programs in Windows 7

Dennis Faas's picture

Here's a great question from an Infopackets subscriber who has written to us before:

"Dear Infopackets Team:

I've recently upgraded my computer from Windows Vista to Windows 7. While most of the software I have for Vista works well on Win 7, some of my Windows XP applications don't.

For example, the auto-installer for Quicken 2000 doesn't work on Windows 7 64-bit. I heard that Windows has a compatibility feature that will allow me to run Windows XP programs on Windows 7. Can you please explain what this feature is and how to use it?

Thanks for your helpful information,

Jennie B."

My Response:

Many programs made for Windows XP simply won't run on Windows 7, unless you use the Windows 7 Compatibility feature, or something called Windows XP Mode.

To set the compatibility version for an application, just right-click on the installation file and choose "Troubleshoot Compatibility. "Windows 7 will normally detect any issues and set its own compatibility according to what the new program needs.

Alternatively, you can right-click on an already-installed program and select "Properties." From the window that opens, choose the "Compatibility" tab. Select "Run this program in compatibility mode for:" and select the operating system version that's correct from the drop-down menu.

Another Option: Using Windows XP Mode

Users running Windows 7 Professional with at least 2GB of RAM and a chipset that has virtualization capabilities can install an add-on program for Windows 7 called "Windows XP Mode."

This software offers a virtualized edition of Windows XP (with service pack 3) in which you can install old programs without setting up an XP virtual machine or dual-booting into Windows XP.

To use this software, download Windows XP Mode from the Microsoft website and install it just as you would any other application. Once installed, click Start -> Search -> type Windows XP Mode -> press Enter on your keyboard. This will bring up Windows XP Mode.

You can test if your processor supports virtualization by using this link:

You can download Windows XP Mode using the link below. Note that you need at least Windows 7 Pro to run Windows XP Mode.

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