Running Win95 programs on Vista/Win7

Started Mar 26, 2014 | Questions thread
Jim Cockfield Forum Pro • Posts: 16,342
32 bit or 64 bit Win Vista and 7?

A lot of older programs (and their installers) designed to run on Operating Systems like Windows 95 or 98 were either 16 bit programs, or 32 bit programs using 16 bit installers.

You can't run 16 bit programs on a 64 bit version of Vista, Win 7 or Win 8, period. 64 bit Operating Systems can run 32 bit programs, but they are unable to run 16 bit programs (and again, many 32 bit programs used 16 bit installers, which would not run in a 64 Bit version of Windows).

I'd give users more info about your existing computers and their operating systems for starters. IOW, let us know if your Vista and Win 7 installs are 64 bit or 32 bit. If they're 32 bit, you may be able to use some older 16 bit software by using the compatibility mode settings available.

But, if you're running 64 Bit versions of Vista and Windows 7, your best bet would be to install XP in a Virtual Machine to run your older software. If you have Win 7 Pro, Ultimate or Enterprise, you can download XP Mode at no cost, and that would give you a copy of 32 bit Windows XP running in a Virtual Machine inside of Windows 7, so you could install your old software inside of XP running under Win 7.

Otherwise (you have Home Premium versus Pro or Ultimate versions), you'd need a legal copy of XP you could install in a virtual machine. That's easy to do using free products like VMWare Player or Oracle VirtualBox. That way, you're running more than one Operating System at the same time, with XP running in a Window inside of Windows Vista or Windows 7.

You could install Win 95 or 98 in a virtual machine, too. But, I don't recommend that approach, since you'd need to install DOS first, then run the Win 95 or 98 installers; and you would *not* have things like the VirtualBox Guest Extensions that would allow you to do things like share data between the guest and host operating systems, and resize your guest screen as desired. So, using XP in a virtual machine is a much more flexible way to approach it.

I'd give more detail about your machines and their operating systems for starters. For example, the exact versions of Vista and Windows 7 they're using (32 bit or 64 bit; Home, Pro, or Ultimate), along with the CPU model they're using (as some CPUs work better than others for supporting Virtual Machines), and how much memory you have installed.

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