Adding, Removing, and Managing Programs in Windows 7

  • 9/23/2009

Dealing with Compatibility Issues

Most recent application programs should install and run without problems in Windows 7. Certain older ones might not. Windows 7 attempts to recognize potential compatibility problems before you install. Immediately after running a program’s installer, you might, for example, see a message like the one shown in Figure 5-1.

Figure 5-1

Figure 5-1 Windows flags some potential compatibility problems and recommends solutions before you install.

Programs of this kind commonly arise if you try to install an outdated version of an application. In such cases (as in this example), clicking Check For Solutions Online takes you to the application vendor’s website, where you can download a later version that will run with no problem in Windows 7. If you’re sure that no help is available online, however, and you want to try installing the software despite the potential compatibility problem, click Run Program.

If an installation routine runs but fails for any reason to complete successfully (in some cases, even if you simply cancel out of the setup process), you will likely see a Program Compatibility Assistant message, comparable to the one shown in Figure 5-2. If the Assistant is mistaken and you really have successfully installed your program, click This Program Installed Correctly. Otherwise, click Reinstall Using Recommended Settings. The Program Compatibility Assistant will then apply one or more compatibility tweaks (unfortunately, without telling you what it’s doing) and try again to run your installer.

Figure 5-2

Figure 5-2 The Program Compatibility Assistant appears when an installation program does not reach a successful conclusion.

In some cases, a program written for an earlier version of Windows might install successfully but still not run well. In such situations, the Program Compatibility troubleshooter is your friend. This wizard lets you take measures designed to convince your program that it’s running in the environment for which it was designed.

To run the Program Compatibility troubleshooter, open Programs in Control Panel. Then, under Programs And Features, click Run Programs Made For Previous Versions Of Windows. The wizard will try to detect which program or programs are giving you problems, but if it doesn’t find them, you can choose from a list of running programs. Then follow the step-by-step instructions.

With some programs, you can go straight to the Program Compatibility troubleshooter by right-clicking the program’s shortcut on the Start menu (or the desktop) and choosing Troubleshoot Compatibility:


As an alternative to using the Program Compatibility wizard, you can modify the properties of the program’s shortcut. Open the Start menu, find the program you want to adjust, right-click its Start-menu entry, and choose Properties from the shortcut menu. Then click the Compatibility tab. Figure 5-3 shows an example of what you’ll see.

Figure 5-3

Figure 5-3 Options on the Compatibility tab of a program shortcut’s properties dialog box might enable some older programs to run in Windows 7.

Select the Run This Program In Compatibility Mode For check box, and choose one of the available operating system options. Use the Settings options to deal with programs that experience video problems when run at higher resolutions and color depths.

Some programs work properly only when run with administrative privileges. Although Microsoft has been advising developers for years to avoid this requirement except for applications that perform administrative functions, this advice was routinely ignored in an era when nearly all user accounts were administrator accounts—the usual situation on computers running Windows XP. You can get these programs to run properly by selecting Run This Program As An Administrator. Although the program runs, it’s not without some inconvenience: you’ll need to respond to a UAC elevation prompt every time you run the program.