How to run old programs in Windows 10

How to run old programs in Windows 10

Every Windows Operating System is designed to be backward compatible for all software’s that was installed in previous versions. This feature was specifically added to reduce the inconvenience caused by compatibility issues after installing the new Operating System. Also, not all but some Software manufacturers are slow to release their updated software version which is completely compatible with the new operating system.

Possible reasons for older software not working in Windows 10

There are several possible reasons for older software not working properly on the latest Windows versions. Some of them are listed here.

  • If the older software is a 16-bit program, it may not function properly on a 64-bit Windows
  • Older software that are DOS based won’t work with Windows 10
  • Possibility of an outdated DRM on the older software (Digital Rights Management)

How to run old programs in Windows 10

  1. Run program as administrator

If the older software worked fine in XP and above, you may try to run the same program in Windows 10 as administrator.

Right click on the software, click on Run as administrator

This should work in most cases. If not, try the next step.

  1. Use Program Compatibility Troubleshooter

If run program as administrator did not work, use the program compatibility troubleshooter to try fixing the problem.

  • Right click on older program
  • Click Properties
  • Click Compatibility

You have the option to try some options here including Running the program in compatibility mode for Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP SP3, XP SP2 etc. You also have other options including reduced color mode, less screen resolution.

If this didn’t work, try Run compatibility troubleshooter. Follow the instructions and check if the problem is fixed.
How to run old programs in Windows 10

  1. Use a Virtual Machine

If none of the above steps worked, you are out of options to get the software working in Windows 10. The older program might be too old, too buggy for Windows to allow backward compatibility.

However, if running the old software is too important and your PC got good hardware configuration, try running the software on a virtual machine.

Virtual machines are created using software to emulate older or different operating system.

  • Install a virtual machine
  • Install the older OS in virtual machine
  • Install the older software


  • Modern hardware does support virtual machine, but if you have an old machine you need to check if installing virtual machine is supported
  • Virtual machines consume lot of memory and take lot of processing power. Having a virtual machine in your machine is like having two operating system running at the same time. So it is recommended not to install virtual machine if you don’t have a powerful hardware configuration.

This Article Was Written By

Anup Raman
Anup Raman

I am Anup Raman. A Tech Enthusiast|Blogger|Tech Trainer with 10+ yrs experience in the field of IT. My expertise are in Operating Systems, mainly Windows and Computer security which comes from my experience, working as Tech Support and Trainer for Microsoft, Symantec and McAfee. Loves blogging about Technical Troubleshooting, discussing latest Gadgets, Games and doing Reviews.

Microsoft Operating System Windows 10

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