How to Run Older Software on Windows 10 and 11

Windows programs are generally supported for a long duration due to the platform’s wide userbase. But sometimes, the developer stops maintaining the software, and you are left in the lurch. Now, it happens rarely, but if you have a piece of software that is essential for your professional work, you would want to run it on your modern PC. So to help you out, we have compiled a few nifty ways to run older software on Windows 10 and Windows 11 PCs. You can even run programs developed for Windows XP and Windows 95 on the latest version of Windows using these tricks. So without any delay, let’s find out how to make old programs compatible with Windows 10 and Windows 11.

Run Older Software on Windows 10 and Windows 11 (2021)

We have mentioned multiple ways you can run older programs on Windows 10 and the latest Windows 11 release in this article. We have also included troubleshooting steps in case you face driver or graphics-related errors. You can expand the table below and move to any relevant section you want.

Note: Before we begin, make sure you have an authentic copy of the older program that you want to run. Generally, to find older programs, users download them from shady sources on the internet that may have keyloggers or viruses. So proceed with caution, and install a genuine copy of the program.

Make Old Programs Compatible With Windows 10 and Windows 11

1. First, you need to find the EXE file of the older program. It can be an installer or an already extracted folder of the installed program. Right-click on the EXE file and open Properties.

Run Older Software on Windows 10 and 11 (2021)

2. Next, move to the “Compatibility” tab, and enable the checkbox for “Run this program in compatibility mode for”.

Run Older Software on Windows 10 and 11 (2021)

3. After that, from the drop-down menu, select the Windows version for which the older program was developed. I generally suggest “Windows XP (Service Pack 3)” for running a really old program. Click on “Apply” to save the changes.

Make Old Programs Compatible With Windows 10 and 11

4. Finally, double-click on the EXE file, and this time, the program will run without throwing any error. I tested an older version of Winamp and a discontinued medical software, and both ran flawlessly on my Windows 11 machine.

Make Old Programs Compatible With Windows 10 and 11

5. In case you are still getting errors, I recommend enabling “Run this program as an administrator” under the “Compatibility” tab.

Make Old Programs Compatible With Windows 10 and 11

6. You can also choose Windows Vista, 7, or even older operating systems like Windows 95 and 98 to see if that does the trick.

Make Old Programs Compatible With Windows 10 and 11

7. If you get any error related to resolution or graphics, enable the checkboxes for “Run in 640 x 480 screen resolution” and “Reduced color mode”.

Run in 640 x 480 screen resolution

8. In case the program does not run at all, click on “Run compatibility troubleshooter” under the “Compatibility” tab.

compatibility troubleshooter

9. After that, choose “Try recommended settings“. Windows 10 or Windows 11 will find the right settings to run the older program on your modern PC.

compatibility troubleshooter

Disable Driver Signature Enforcement to Run Older Programs

If an older program is not running on Windows 10 or Windows 11 due to some driver-related issue, then you will have to disable driver signature enforcement. After that, the program will install without any errors. Here’s how to do that:

1. Click on the Start Menu and open the Power menu. Now, press and hold the “Shift” key while clicking on the “Restart” button.

Run Older Software on Windows 10 and 11

2. The PC will restart to a blue screen. Here, click on the “Troubleshoot” menu.

Press Shift and Restart Your PC

3. On the next screen, click on the “Advanced Options“.

Run Older Software on Windows 10 and 11

4. Now, click on “Startup Settings“, followed by a click on the “Restart” button to boot into the Startup menu.

Run Older Software on Windows 10 and 11
Run Older Software on Windows 10 and 11

5. After that, you will see the option to Disable driver signature enforcement. Press “7” or the “F7” key to boot without driver signature enforced.

How to Run Older Software on Windows 10 and 11

7. Finally, you will boot into your Windows 10/ 11 PC without driver signature enforcement. Now, follow the above method, and this time, the program should install without fail.

Create a Virtual Machine to Use Old Software

If the compatibility mode in Windows 10 or Windows 11 could not run your older program, you will have to create a virtual machine. You will need the ISO image of the older operating system and have to run it on VMware or VirtualBox. You can also extract the ISO image of an older operating system if you have got the CD. Here is how to go about it.

1. Download your choice of virtualization software. I would recommend VMWare (Free, Pro version starts at $149) for an easy setup.

2. Next, install VMWare and run it. Select your choice of Windows OS, add the ISO image, allot RAM, CPU cores, etc., and finish the setup.

Create a Virtual Machine

3. Now, run the VM, and there you go. Within the VM, you can install and run older programs as you would do on any other PC.

How to Run Older Software on Windows 10 and 11

Run Older Apps in Compatibility Mode on Windows 10 and 11

So these are three methods you can use to install and run older programs on your modern Windows 10 and 11 PC. As mentioned above, we have tested these methods and were able to run a 2005 program on Windows 11 without any issue. The compatibility layer that Microsoft has developed for older OSes is pretty powerful, and it’s amazing how far the Redmond-giant goes to maintain backward compatibility with older apps. Anyway, that is all from us. If you want to learn how to update drivers on Windows 10, go through our detailed article. And if you have any questions, let us know in the comment section below.

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