How to Run Legacy Software on Windows 10 and 11

Windows programs are generally supported for a long time due to the platform’s large user base. Sometimes, however, the developer stops maintaining the software and you’re in trouble. Now, it rarely happens, but if you have software that is essential for your professional work, you’ll want to run it on your modern PC. To help you out, we’ve compiled a few nifty ways to run legacy software on Windows 10 and Windows 11 computers. You can even run programs developed for Windows XP and Windows 95 on the latest version of Windows using these tricks. So, without wasting any time, let’s learn how to make old programs compatible with Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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

In this article, we have mentioned many ways to run old programs in Windows 10 and the latest Windows 11 version. We’ve also included troubleshooting steps in case you encounter driver or graphics related errors. You can expand the table below and move on to the relevant section you want.

note: Before you begin, make sure you have an original copy of the old program you want to run. Usually, to find outdated programs, users download them from shady sources on the internet that contain keyloggers or viruses. So proceed with caution and install an original copy of the program.

Make Legacy Programs Compatible with Windows 10 and Windows 11

1. First, what you need to do Find the EXE file from the old program. The installed program may have an installer or a previously extracted folder. Right click on the EXE file and Open properties.

2. Then, “compatibility” tab and enable the “Run this program in compatibility mode for” checkbox.

Run Legacy Software on Windows 10 and 11 (2021)

3. After that, select the Windows version in which the old program was developed from the drop-down menu. Overall I recommend”Windows XP (Service Pack 3)” to run a really old program. Click “Apply” to save the changes.

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Make Legacy Programs Compatible with Windows 10 and 11

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

Make Legacy Programs Compatible with Windows 10 and 11

5. If you still get the error “Run this program as administratorUnder the “Compatibility” tab.

Make Legacy Programs Compatible with Windows 10 and 11

6. You can also choose: Windows Vista, 7, or older operating systems like Windows 95 and 98 to see if that works.

Make Legacy Programs Compatible with Windows 10 and 11

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

Run at 640 x 480 screen resolution

8. In case the program does not run at all “Run the compatibility troubleshooterUnder the “Compatibility” tab.

compatibility troubleshooter

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

compatibility troubleshooter

Disable Driver Signature Enforcement to Run Legacy Programs

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

1. Click on the Start Menu and open the Power menu. Now, Hold down the “Shift” key Clicking the “Restart” button.

Run Legacy Software on Windows 10 and 11

2. The computer will reboot to the blue screen. Here, Click on the “Troubleshoot” menu.

Press Shift and Restart Your Computer

3. On the next screen, “Advanced options“.

Run Legacy Software on Windows 10 and 11

4. Now, “Startup Settings“, next “RestartPress the ” button to boot into the start menu.

Run Legacy Software on Windows 10 and 11
Run Legacy Software on Windows 10 and 11

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

How to Run Legacy 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 errors.

Create a Virtual Machine to Use Legacy Software

If compatibility mode in Windows 10 or Windows 11 cannot run your old program, you will need to create a virtual machine. You will need an ISO image of the old operating system and you will need to run it on VMware or VirtualBox. If you have a CD, you can also extract an ISO image of an older operating system. Here’s how to do it.

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1. Download the virtualization software you want. I recommend VMware (freeThe Pro version starts at $149 for easy setup.

2. Next, install and run VMWare. your Windows operating system selectionAttach the ISO image, RAM, CPU cores etc. disconnect and complete the installation.

Create a Virtual Machine

3. Now start the virtual machine and there you go. Inside the VM you can: install and run old programs as you would on any other computer.

How to Run Legacy Software on Windows 10 and 11

Run Legacy Apps in Compatibility Mode on Windows 10 and 11

These are three methods you can use to install and run legacy programs on your modern Windows 10 and 11 PC. As mentioned above, we tested these methods and were able to run 2005 on Windows 11 without any issues. The compatibility layer that Microsoft has developed for legacy operating systems is pretty strong and it’s surprising how far the Redmond giant has gone to maintain backward compatibility with legacy apps. Anyway, that’s it for us. If you want to learn how to update drivers in Windows 10, check out our detailed article. And if you have any questions, let us know in the comment section below.

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