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Windows 7: Best way to run DOS programs (specifically WordPerfect) in Windows 7

25 Apr 2014   #1

Windows 7 Professional 64bit
Best way to run DOS programs (specifically WordPerfect) in Windows 7

The forum system suggested that as this related thread (Is there a way to make a DOS program work on Windows 7?) is 286 days old, that I should start anew.

I have a friend who, like so many, has recently upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7.

She has a preference for WordPerfect 6.1, which is a DOS program and therefore will not run on 64bit Windows 7.

I believe there are three options:

1) A specially modified version of DOSBox
(see WPDOS - WPDOS for 64-bit Windows: the DOSBox-Based WP-64 Method)

2) Install 'XP mode' (a full XP SP3)
running within 'Windows Virtual PC'.

3) Install VirtualBox with an XP guest.
(I do have a spare new copy of XP)

Option 1) is most likely the smallest and possibly the most efficient in terms of system resource usage. And it allows for startup by dragging a file onto the desktop shortcut.

Option 2) has the downside of running a full copy of XP which will become increasingly vulnerable,
and is a lot of bloat for one application.

Option 3), like Option 2), is a lot of system for one small program.

Option 2) (via Windows updates) and Option 3) (assuming VB on Windows offers updates like it does on GNU/Linux) will receive semi-automatic updates to the virtualization system. Option 1) will require manual updates, but is arguably less vulnerable as it only runs DOS software.

I'm leaning towards Option 1).

And this comment also suggests Option 1) is 'best':
On the other hand, some oddness does occur when you run old software on new systems (like things running VERY fast, so dosbox is considered to be a better way to run dos era applications on modern systems - even good old games uses it for their commercial releases.

Option 2) might seem the next best until you read this from Microsoft:
Quote: keep your Windows 7 PC secure after April 8, 2014, we recommend that you only use Windows XP Mode if your PC is disconnected from the Internet.
I don't know if turning off networking within XP will be enough to keep it secure.

Also, is 'XP mode' so tightly integrated with W7 that a successful breach in XP will expose W7?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Apr 2014   #2

Windows 10 Pro

Option 2 is your best bet. Update xp mode using the windows update website, and then within the xp mode, disable the network adapter. Xp mode will not be on the internet, theirfor posing no risk. And they can run their program without ever seeing xp mode open. It will act like it is running in windows 7. Best user friendly way. Also since its a vm, it is very unlikely threats will pass through. However I would update it and then disable the network adapter in the xp mode. Then you are fine.

The quote is meaning to have the xp machine (xp mode) disconnected from the internet. Not windows 7. Windows 7 is supported until 2020. Long ways from now.

Keep in mind, you must have windows 7 professional or higher to run xp mode.

I would suggest vmware player, but for ease of use purposes this time I say go for xp mode.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Apr 2014   #3
A Guy

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 10 Home x64

See the last post on this thread for their success

WordPerfect 6.1 Compatibility With Windows 7 Virtual Machine XP

A Guy
My System SpecsSystem Spec

27 Apr 2014   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

First off, let's say the obvious, options 2 and 3 are exactly the same, as they both run XP on a virtual machine, while the differences are just on how those are setup or if it came prebuillt.

Speaking of DOS programs, the absolutely best way to run it is DosBox, as it has been specifically designed to run those programs in an stable environment, emulating as closely as possible the real DOS thing. Problem with XP and more important in Win7 are that those were actively trying to dump DOS support and many such programs no longer work or have problems.

DosBox also provides the advantage of reading/writing to the real filesystem on the host (though mounted drives) so you can point Wordperfect to save files and those will end up in a real directory instead of a drive image.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 May 2014   #5

Windows 7 Professional 64bit

Many thanks for the replies.

Regarding turning off networking, I didn't make myself clear. What I meant was, if I turn off networking within XP, but I'm still connected to the internet in Windows7 (the host), is XP fully isolated or is there a way in via W7?
I'm not so much concerned about damage to XP, but what if an attack on XP via W7 can then be used to compromise W7. I'm thinking back to the bad old days when, if something like Word crashed, it took the whole OS down.

@A Guy
Some handy gotcha pointers in that link. Thank you.

Yes, I've been leaning towards DosBox. Although a bit put off by the long install full of pitfalls (WPDOS - WPDOS for 64-bit Windows: the DOSBox-Based WP-64 Method). Think I might try XP mode first, as it's relatively straight forward, and go for DOSBox, or vDOS (see below) if XP mode doesn't work.

Since posting and reading replies I've discovered vDOS:
vDos: a new system for running WPDOS under Windows
I plan to experiment, but I'd be grateful for any thoughts...
My concern here is that, unlike the DOSBox install which is done file-by-file into non-system 'user' folders, vDOS involves a .exe installer. So I don't know where the files are going or if the usual Windows uninstaller will work if things go wrong.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 May 2014   #6

Windows 10 Pro

That is what I meant. Nothing is ever 100% fully isolated, but if you turn off the feature to enable sharing (called integration features in xp mode) and xp is off the internet (disabling the network adapter in xp mode) and windows 7 is on the internet, you should be more then fine. Especially since all they are doing is using a word processor. Not much to worry about there haha.

With integration features on, xp mode can share the drives with windows 7, and saving documents could then be possible to save them to the host documents folder. Then when the document is clicked wordperfect starts in xp mode without the user doing anything other then the normal opening way of opening a file. It may take longer, as xp has to load but it opens almost 100% of the time without issue. But this makes the mode risky if turned on if xp mode is connected to the internet. If not, nothing to worry about.

You could have the network adapter disabled in xp mode, and have the integration features turned on, so this way xp is still very unlikely (almost impossible-except through flash drives etc) to get threats passed onto windows 7. Ether way, having xp mode network adapter disabled is an easy way to not worry about viruses infecting windows 7 from xp mode.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 May 2014   #7

Windows XP-7-8, 32-64 bit

The install program of Edward Mendelson for the WPDos – vDos combination lets you choose where to install. Essentially it’s the same “file-by-file into non-system 'user' folders “ copy w/o Windows dependencies. No uninstall, you can simply delete the folder where it was installed.
Your friend will be in for a pleasant surprise the first time using it.
At vDos | Free Business & Enterprise software downloads at you’ll find two screenshots of vDos running WPDos, mind they are not that crisp due to the JPEG compression.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Best way to run DOS programs (specifically WordPerfect) in Windows 7

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