Whenever Microsoft decides to release a new version of Windows, those folks that decide to upgrade to it or to purchase a new computer that includes it, run the risk that their “old” programs might not work as well as they’d like with the new Windows version.

And from recent stories I’ve heard from my local computer students, this incompatibility problem seems to be especially true as they try to run programs made for use with Windows XP on Windows 7.

But if you ARE someone who’s having such a problem, there’s something you can try called the Windows 7 Compatibility Mode.

But first a bit of history.

Starting back with Windows XP, Microsoft began including a “compatibility mode” feature that let you run an old program as if it were running in an older Windows version. But the feature went mostly unnoticed since Windows XP compatibility problems were for the most part, few and far between.

But now with Windows 7 things are a bit different.

By the way, if you’d like to learn a lot more about Windows 7, check out my new book, “The Windows PC Guidebook“. CLICK HERE to read more about it.

Windows 7 is a fairly major technology jump from Windows XP (which is still used by over 28% of Windows users), so it’s probably not surprising that some of the older programs that ran fine with XP are sputtering in Windows 7.

Which brings the Windows 7 Compatibility Mode back to the forefront as an important method for trying to get an old program to work.

Here’s how you turn it on for a particular program that you’re having problems with:

  • Find the shortcut icon for the old program on the Windows desktop or in the Start Menu. An easy way to find it in Windows 7 is to simply type the name of it into the search box at the bottom of the Start Menu. In the example here, we are using a shortcut icon for the Photo Story 3 program.
  • When you find the icon, point your mouse at it and RIGHT click. From the menu, choose PROPERTIES.
  • When the Properties window appears, choose the COMPATIBILITY tab.
  •  On the tab, check the “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” box.
  • On the drop-down menu beneath this box, choose Windows XP (Service Pack 3).
  • Click the OK button to leave the window.
Now when you use that particular shortcut icon to start the older program, as it starts Windows 7 will switch itself to be more like Windows XP behind the scenes, which in turn might help your old program to run more as it should.
Keep in mind that this is certainly worth trying with an old program, but does not always completely fix incompatibility problems.
If you do this and things still don’t work right, the next best solution is to visit the software developers web site to see if there’s a new version available that’s meant to work with Windows 7.
Also keep in mind that the Windows 7 Compatibility Mode will only turn-on when you use the particular shortcut icon you made the above changes to. If you start the old program using a different icon, you are still running in Windows 7, not compatibility mode.

As always, I’d love to hear your experiences or comments. You can leave them below…

FREE eNewsletter Subscription
Wondering who you can trust when it comes to computer technology? Need answers that aren’t full of techno babble? Sign up for the FREE DiscoverSkills eNewsletter