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Windows 7: Poor Emulation on Windows 7


26 May 2011   #1

Windows 7 Premium 64 bit
 
 
Poor Emulation on Windows 7

Can anyone explain to me why 64-bit Windows 7 is incapable running 32-bit programs in compatibility mode for Windows XP, or other version of Windows?

In fact, more often than not (maybe 90% of the time) Windows will refuse to even open any older program that I try to run in "compatiblity mode", why is this?


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26 May 2011   #2

Windows 7 Pro-x64
 
 

I have some programs from 1999 and the early 2000s loaded and didn't even set the compatibility mode or load under XP-VM. They work except one has a problem with printing. I have to print to MS XPS Document Writer then print from there. Other than that, they are fully functional. I think it depends on how they were written and whether they use DMA routines. Some questionable programming methods aren't supported any more. As well they shouldn't.
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27 May 2011   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

Older pc games typically will fare far better on any newer version of Windows including the 64bit 7 over desktop apps as a rule. Some programs written strictly for XP will only be found to work on the 32bit flavor when opting to use the compatibility mode option which wouldn't install or run on the 32bit Vista.

The one large advantage for running the 32bit flavor becomes apparent when that displays far more backward compatibility even without the compatibilty option set. The best thing to try on the 64bit however would be the compatibility troubleshooter to see if that will help. That's found when right clicking on the installer's or main program's executable in the right click menu options which will have you run the installer with that open.
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29 May 2011   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1
 
 

By refuses to open, I assume you mean you get the "you need a 32 bit Operating system" message?

Actually, the problem isn't so much with 32 bit, as it is 16-bit.

32 bit Windows will (usually) happily run 16-bit programs, but 64 bit won't. Unfortunately Windows gets itself a little confused and suggests you need a 32 bit OS instead of a 16 bit one. Actually windows is correct, because as i said, 32 bit will usually happily run 16-bit, it's just identifying the coding wrong. (It assumes "can't run" means 32 bit)

There is no "emulation" going on anywhere with compatibility mode, Windows is just reporting a different version string, to "trick" the program into thinking it's XP. It doesn't actually emulate XP at all. In my experience, the "compatibility troubleshooter" is of limited usefulness, as it tends to just always plump for XP SP2 regardless of actual compatibility.

As your running Ultimate, there is always XP Mode: Download Windows XP Mode which is a VM. That should quite happily run most old 16-bit games and programs
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29 May 2011   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

DOSBox is another option as well as other VM wares depending on the type of program being run. There are some 16bit emulators like the one for seeing the old Legacy game Duke3D run on the 64bit as well as 32bit 7.

DOSBox is one option that will take on old 8bit or 16bit dos games and apps running them in an emulated dos windowed environment. For old 16bit Windows games and apps along with many early old 32bit apps on the other hand you might end up needing to dual boot with one of the previous versions to see them running again if they were written for one version only.

What would run on a normal XP install with compatibility mode but not on any VM due to a need for direct access to physical hardwares. Most pc games won't even run on the XP Mode intended mainly for things like older versions of MS Office products and other desktop softwares in case you have any old games you are trying to run.

Typically old pc games usually end up managing far better since most are crossversion compatible to begin with. Here I have some 98-XP games running on the 64bit 7 for a start. Now look at some old 98-ME desktop app and no go! Old apps for 2000 however are intended to run on an NT cored version of Windows and would fare better on the XP Mode.
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05 Jun 2011   #6

Windows 7 Premium 64 bit
 
 

For some of the programs I have in mind, DOSBox is not an option as these are specifically Windows programs and DOSBox will only run DOS programs.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by severedsolo
By refuses to open, I assume you mean you get the "you need a 32 bit Operating system" message?
Yep, thats the one. You need a 32-bit operating system. Or contact your vendor for a 64-bit version.

The compatibility troubleshooter is just as bad. I ran compatibility troubleshooter on one of the programs I was trying to get working and it came up with Windows XP SP?? then when I clicked "Run using these settings" (from inside the troubleshooter) nothing appeared to happen, didn't even get the above mentioned dialog box.

Windows XP is not an option for me. My laptop only has Windows 7 Premium (it is my desktop that has Windows 7 Ultimate).

My question is, why can Windows not natively emulate its previous versions? Microsoft has obviously gone through the trouble of implementing this compatibility layer, why not take it one step further and make it full emulation? In my opinion it seems pretty worthless to have a compatibility layer that doesn't even provide full compatibility.
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05 Jun 2011   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

The 64bit Windows only will have a certain degree of 32bit emulation to begin with which has been excellent for a large variety of programs of all types. For old individual apps that will mainly depend on how it was written since most are created by 3rd party sources. You can't blame MS for the programs they didn't write.

The 32bit 7 on the other hand has shown far better backward support for older 32bit programs then seen with the previous version Vista! I found games and apps that refused to even install let alone run on Vista went right onto a 32bit 7 install without issue and ran well. If you bought 7 retail on disk you might want to consider running a temp install of the 32bit side and try the same programs there to see how things go.
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05 Jun 2011   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1
 
 

Nighthawk has already said everything I wanted to say, advice wise, so I'll stick to offering a different point of view here.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Bidski
The compatibility troubleshooter is just as bad. I ran compatibility troubleshooter on one of the programs I was trying to get working and it came up with Windows XP SP?? then when I clicked "Run using these settings" (from inside the troubleshooter) nothing appeared to happen, didn't even get the above mentioned dialog box.
As I said before, compatibility mode doesn't really "fix" anything. The program is capable of running on Windows 7, it just doesn't think it is. All that compatibility mode does, is rather than Windows reporting the correct version string of 6.1.7601 (or 6.1.7600 if you're not on SP1) it reports itself as 5.*.* so the program is tricked into believing it is running XP. No Emulation actually happens, it is just a simple lie. If it won't run on 7 for technical reasons, then merely reporting the version string incorrectly won't help.

In terms of compatibility, 7 is alot better than Vista. 7 uses junction points effectively, so that badly written apps looking for (say) Documents and Settings, get automatically directed to the correct location, rather than throwing a fit when they can't find it. That is one of the things that broke apps with Vista.

Quote:
My question is, why can Windows not natively emulate its previous versions?
My guess, and that is all it is, although it seems reasonable enough, is that at some point you have to say "enough is enough" As I said before, most of the apps that won't run on 64-bit are old, seriously old. They are usually 16-bit. We're talking ME and before era here.

From a technical standpoint, your processor is capable of natively running 32 bit code, so the underlying compatibility layer is probably not that hard to implement. To run 16-bit code however, would mean writing a whole new emulation layer which is, ultimately pointless bloat, when most people who NEED those programs, are businesses, who can run XP Mode anyway (assuming they are using Enterprise) Honestly, I can count on one hand the amount of time's I have needed to use XP Mode for anything and I'm running a 64-bit OS.

On the subject of actual 32 bit programs that won't run, you're guess is as good as mine, I would be almost willing to lay money on the fact they probably have 16-bit installers though.

Quote:
Microsoft has obviously gone through the trouble of implementing this compatibility layer, why not take it one step further and make it full emulation?
Well for one thing, 90% of programs are 32-bit. Microsoft are not going to go and shoot themselves in the foot by suddenly making 64 bit systems incapable of running 32 bit programs. You think developers will rise to the task and write 64 bit? Just think of Vista, and how long it took for driver compatibility to be anywhere near an acceptable level. I also remind you that the developers had the code at least 6 months before Vista was launched.

Ultimately, Microsoft and their partners are businesses. Could Microsoft write emulation in for the few programs that won't run? Probably. Would it be worth it in terms of money spent to returns/how many people would actually take advantage of it? Probably not. Especially as they have already introduced XP Mode, which does the same job. Plus, if you never have to update, how long before program developers are getting narked with Microsoft because they aren't making any money from upgrades? Ultimately, it's about money.

However, a thought did occur to me, while I was writing this small essay. Check this out: VMLite XP Mode Plugin for VirtualBox released

It will allow you to run XP Mode without Ultimate/Professional. Not sure where you'd stand from a licensing point of view though, so be warned.
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