Running your old applications in Vista is easy!

Posted on Sunday, August 24th, 2008 at 12:41 pm

I am often asked why an application that was running fine on XP will not run on Vista and my reply is it will.  Needless to say the person asking the question will get into a flap and say that I am wrong and they have tried to get an application to run in Vista but it will not work.

OK to be clear here in some cases you cannot get it to run ‘in’ Vista but you can get it to run ‘on’ a Vista PC.

There are a number of ways to get any application to run on Vista and to date I have not yet found one that will not run on Vista (please note I am talking about applications that are not older than Windows 98SE).  Here are what I have used, I am sure there are others but the first two here have always worked for me.

  • Run in Compatibility Mode
  • Virtual PC
  • Run as Administrator
  • Dual Boot PC

Running an Application in Compatibility Mode

If you have an application that will not run in Vista the first trick up your sleeve thanks to the good backward compatibility (that every complains it doe snot have) Vista has is the Compatibility mode.

Locate your application in your Windows Menu and right click it (I am assuming the software has installed ok) and select Properties, you will get the following window.

Notice the ‘Run this in compatability mode for’ tick box.  Select it and then the drop down menu item will become active.

Here you simply select the version of Windows your application was running in and then select the Apply button.

Try your application, often this is enough to have it running well, however if it is still not able to run there are still a few more tricks up your sleeve 🙂

Go back to the Properties window of the application and this time select the other options,

Try a few variations and retest your application and I am sure that nearly all applications will run quite happily.

What happens however if Vista will not allow you to install your application as it is for an older version?  This is where a great tool made by Microsoft comes in very handy and since it is a Microsoft application it is going to play nice with Vista.  That tool is Virtual PC – I just love it 🙂

Virtual PC

Microsofts Virtual PC Home Page

Microsoft's Virtual PC Home Page

First of, I need to say that the Microsoft website says that Home Premium is not supported, however I can tell you it will run on Home Premium without any issues (I have not tested on Home Basic) it is simply not supported by Microsoft to run on Home Premium.

Virtual PC can be accessed from the Microsoft website and it is FREE.

Have a read through the information on the Microsoft website for information of what Virtual PC can do.  In summary Virtual PC allows you to run multiple operating Systems on the one physical PC.

Once you have downloaded and installed Virtual PC setting it up is a breeze, it even has a setup wizard that is easy to follow.

Here is a quick guide.

Start Virtual PC, once started it will show you a Console Window.

You can see from the above image that I have already setup two different operating systems, those being Windows 98SE and WIndows XP.  Ok but how do you do this, well first you must have a valid copy of the other operating systems, from this point on I am going to assume you do have these available.

To setup a new Virtual PC select the New button and then a wizard will start to guide you through the process to creating your Virtual PC.  When you get to the options you have three choices, I recommend you choose the ‘Create a Virtual machine’ and then select Next.

Virtual PC OS Choice

Virtual PC OS Choice

Give your new Virtual machine a name – like XPsp3 (for Windows XP Service Pack 3) and then select Next.  You will then be provided a drop down list to select the type of virtual machine you want to add.

As you can see from the image to the right (and on your screen if you are using this gudie as you create your VPC) there is quite a few Operating System (OS) choices.  For Xp select Windows XP.

To the right it has Memory allocation and hard drive allocation – we will adjust these next.  Select the Next button

Select the Adjusting the Ram and then set the ram with the slider to what you want, I recommend minimum of 256MB but 512MB if you have it, then select Next.

Virtual PC Console

Virtual PC Console

The next screen will ask if you already have a Virtual Hard disk, in most cases you will not have one so select the ‘A new virtual hard disk’ and then Next.  You will be given the option now to adjust the size of your hard disk, this is totally up to you and depends what you want your XP virtual PC for.  I use mine mainly for a few older applications that have little hard disc space required so I have set mine to 6000MB.  Select Next and if all is well you wil get the final wizard screen, select Finish and in your Virtual PC box you should see a new entry for XPsp3 (or whatever you called it).

Now you need to install the OS.  Select the Virtual disk and click on the Start button.

A dos style window will appear and it will try and boot your new Virtual PC in that window.  But before you can do this you need to install your OS.  Now for me I had to first select the menu item for CD and select it to ‘Use CD drive’.  I had my XP install disc in the CD drive (bootable version) and it then started the XP setup and I simply installed XP as I would have normally if I was creating it on my PC as the main OS.  When it says to reboot, it means reboot the Virtual PC not your whole computer – which is kind of neat in itself 🙂

Virtual PC opening XP

Virtual PC opening XP

If all goes well with the install you should now have a fully operational Xp (or any other OS) installed and available for use at the same time as your Vista PC.

Now onec it has all started up and is running you will need to treat your XP as if it was a PC on its own, thsi will inlcude any antivirus software, any spyware software, office applications and so on.  It does NOT use your main PC’s virus scanner etc so be warned you need to set them up on the virtual PC.

Installing applications on your Virtual PC is just the same as installing them on your main computers OS.  Just make sure you are working ion your virtual PC when you want to install anything on it, i.e. select it by clicking in your virtual PC window.  To have your cursor go to your main OS, select your right ALT key and your cursor will now be working in your main OS and not the Virtual PC.  To go back to your virtual PC simply select that window to activate it and then click inside the virtual PC screen – easy as that :).

Run as Administrator

OK first off this is probably not the best way but it is something I have had to do a few times to get certain applications to run.

There are some applications that will just not run in XP in normal mode, these are always those applications that are not designed for Vista.  My two are Homesite and Epson Print CD that I use often.

Run As Admin

Run As Admin

To set an application to run in administrator mode is simple enough (and I am assuming you already have administrator rights on your PC, if not then this will not work for you).  Simply select the application within your start menu and right click it and sselect ‘Run as Administrator’, you will get a confirmation screen that you will need to confirm to run as administartor and then the application will run  as administrator and in most cases will now run on Vista where it did not before.

You can also set the application to always run as Asministrator by again right click the application but this time select Properties.  At the bottom of that window wil be a select box to run as administrator.  Select OK and it will now always run as Administartor, however the confirm screen will pop up each time you run the application.

Dual Boot PC.

Not for the uneducated but can be very handy if you want to run for example Windows Vista and a Linux OS.

You will have to partition your existing hard disc into two parts and assign one to Vista and the other to the other OS you wish to use.  I have not yet had a need for a dual boot PC so I am not going to go through a run down of how this is done, there are plenty of sites on the net that help you, here is one for setting up a dual boot PC with Windows and Ubuntu – https://help.ubuntu.com/community/WindowsDualBoot.

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3 Responses to “Running your old applications in Vista is easy!”

  1. Alishia Spruill Says:

    Love these posts, keep em coming! ciao!

  2. HCG Says:

    Hmm. I see exactly what you mean. Hey, do you happen to have an RSS feed? I’m trying to subscribe so I can get updates. Let me know.

  3. Greg Says:

    RSS Feed link is in the footer, but I will add one to the sidebar very soon 🙂

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