Understanding Compatibility Settings

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 11, 2016)

1

When a program is created to work with Windows, it is typically created to work with a particular version of Windows. For instance, I have an older graphics-editing program that was designed to be used with Windows XP. It worked very well, and I became quite attached to the program. It did everything that I needed it to do, so there was no need to update it to a newer version. (The only thing added in the past decade for the program has been bells and whistles that I would never use.)

When I installed the program under Windows 7, it didn't work quite right. So, I took advantage of a rather esoteric Windows feature called the Compatibility Wizard. This feature configures an operating environment for older programs (such as my graphics-editing program) so that the older program thinks it is running in the older operating system. In other words, my graphics-editing program now thinks it is operating under Windows XP—even though it is really running in Windows 7—so it is happy and does its work well.

Don't make the mistake of assuming that my experience with the Compatibility Wizard means that it is only available in Windows 7. It is also available in later versions of Windows, as well.

You may never have the need to use the Compatibility Wizard, but it is good to know it is there and ready to help. It won't work in all instances, particularly with programs that relied on low-level function calls and older drivers. However, it is something to try if your old, faithful programs are no longer as faithful as you want.

How you actually use the Compatibility Wizard is covered in a different tip.

 This tip (5851) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Pin Items to the Start Screen

You can improve your efficiency at launching applications by using the Start Screen. This tip shows you how to pin items ...

Discover More

Setting Default Options for Track Changes

The Track changes feature in Word is a great help in editing documents, particularly if you are working with others or ...

Discover More

Trimming Spaces from Strings

Need to get rid of extraneous spaces before or after the text in a string? VBA provides three different functions you can ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Disabling USB Storage Devices

USB storage devices can be extremely helpful. They can also allow people to copy and access your information through the ...

Discover More

Turning on Night Light

When you work on your computer late at night the glow from your computer monitor can affect your sleep. Why not setup ...

Discover More

Changing Screen Resolution

Screen resolution is a key attribute of your monitor. You usually have choices for resolution, which provides you with a ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 0 + 4?

2016-04-11 12:07:48

Henry Noble

Allen's mention that "It won't work in all instances,..." is important. The Compatibility Wizard resolves only superficial problems.
I have tried Compatibility settings many times over the years, but never have they solved a compatibility problem for me.
To keep valuable older programs running, I use one of three strategies:
1. If you have an old PC sitting around, install on it the old OS and old program. To remove the potential for security threats, simply disable Internet connectivity and use the program in a stand-alone mode.
2. Similar to the above, dual-boot, or multi-boot, into the older operating system. This requires a little more skill to set up, but reduces hardware clutter.
3. Create a virtual machine on your primary system and run the older OS in the virtual machine. This requires the most skill to set up, but provides immediate access to the old OS and program because no reboot is needed. However, it may not work with really old DOS programs that requires direct access to the hardware. For those programs, only 1 or 2 will work.


Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.