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Windows Vista Program Compatibility

Program compatibility is a mode in Windows that lets you run programs written for earlier versions of Windows. Most programs written for Windows XP also work in Windows Vista, but some older programs might run poorly or not run at all. If an older program doesn't run correctly, start the Program Compatibility Wizard to simulate earlier versions of Windows. Any changes made are related to how Windows runs the program and no changes are made to the program itself. Some compatibility problems might be caused by drivers. If an older driver is causing a problem, you will need to update it manually. Windows XP also has a similar Program Compatibility feature that can be used to run pre Windows XP programs on XP.

The Program Compatibility Assistant runs automatically when it detects an older program that has a compatibility problem. The Program Compatibility Wizard can be run manually if you want to adjust settings before trying to run a program. Do not use the Program Compatibility Wizard on older antivirus programs, disk utilities, or other system programs because it might cause data loss or create a security risk.

When you start the Program Compatibility Wizard you will be presented with 3 options.

  • I want to choose from a list of programs - this will scan your computer for installed programs
  • I want to use the program in the CD-ROM drive - this will check a program on a CD or DVD for compatibility
  • I want to locate the program manually - this will let you browse your computer for a specific program

If you choose I want to choose from a list of programs you will be presented with a list of programs installed on your computer. Then you would select a program you want to change compatibility for and click next.

Then you can pick an operating system that worked previously with the program.

Then you will be presented with options allowing you to change the way the program is run such as resolution, colors and how its displayed.

Next you will have the option of running the program as Administrator, or so it appears. This box seems to tell you how to run it as Administrator rather than letting you do so from this section.

When you are done changing the settings you will be able to test the program by running it with the new settings to see if they worked. Finally you can accept the changes or go back and adjust them.

If you want to change compatibility settings without using the wizard its easy to do. Simply right click the icon for the program, click Properties, and then click the Compatibility tab. Here are what the different settings mean.

  • Compatibility mode - Runs the program using settings from a previous version of Windows.
  • Run in 256 colors - Uses a limited set of colors in the program. Some older programs are designed to use fewer colors.
  • Run in 640 x 480 screen resolution - Runs the program in a smaller-sized window. Try this setting if the graphical user interface appears jagged or is rendered improperly.
  • Disable visual themes - Disables themes on the program. Try this setting if you notice problems with the menus or buttons on the title bar of the program.
  • Disable desktop composition - Turns off transparency and other advanced display features.
  • Disable display scaling on high DPI settings - Turns off automatic resizing of programs if large-scale font size is in use.
  • Privilege level - Runs the program as an administrator. Some programs require administrator privileges to run properly.
  • Show settings for all users - Lets you choose settings that will apply to all users on this computer.

Related Tips:
Start a Program in Compatibility Mode in Windows 7
Windows Versions and Features
Disabling Vista's User Account Control (UAC)
Windows Vista Easy Transfer
Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor

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