Applications Compatibility – Part 1

Windows 7 is more stable than its predecessors. Applications that use to perform low level functions in previous versions of Windows are now controlled with features such as Data Execution Protection and Mandatory Integrity Control. Stability brings on other problems like application compatibility where certain important applications that worked on previous versions may not run on the Windows 7 platform. Although, through personal experience I find that most applications are compatible with Windows 7, in this article we see the various native tools that can help you solve these problems. Some tools require a bit of knowledge and time to execute while others are simple and fast.

The Program Compatibility Troubleshooter

The Program Compatibility Troubleshooter is a tool that attempts to resolve any compatibility issues an application may have, after running a set of tests against the selected application it makes the necessary compatibility settings. The tool runs automatically and the compatibility settings are stored with the application shortcut as to be loaded every time the application is executed. This tool cannot be used to troubleshoot installation files of the type .msi! To start the tool, right-click the problematic application shortcut and click Troubleshoot Compatibility.

The tool allows you to run either a fully automated procedure or one that requires your feedback. When you choose to run the recommended settings you are prompted to test run the application and if the problem is solved you must save these settings. When you opt for the second option where your feedback is required, then you are prompted with a series of problem definitions and selectable answers. Briefly, you are requested to answer questions related to display and permissions problems, and which previous version of Operating system the application used to run without any problems. The tool is quite simple to follow, however, all settings can be done through the Compatibility tab of the Properties dialog box which I find more convenient and practical.


Setting Compatibility modes and options manually

Personally, I prefer to use the manual version of the program compatibility troubleshooter tool. You find the Compatibility tab by right clicking an application shortcut and select Properties. From the Properties dialog box select the Compatibility tab.

Check the option Run this program in compatibility mode for: and from the drop-down menu select the best compatibility mode. The other settings include display parameters such as, run applications with a limited color palette, lower resolutions, disabling visual themes and Aero user interface, and disabling of automatic resizing of applications if large scale fonts are being used. The Privilege Level check box allows you to run the application as an administrator and forces the User Account Control (UAC) dialog box to appear every time the application is run. It also shows the UAC logo on the shortcut. Remember, that only users with administrative privileges will benefit from this setting. To create same settings for all users of the computer click the Change settings for all users button and configure the required settings.

You cannot configure the compatibility options of applications that are included with the windows operating system. Also, if the above tools would not work you can use the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) to create a custom application compatibility mode that is more specifically tailored for the application you are trying to run. I will explain ACT in part 2 of this article :)