Overcome Windows 7 Software-Compatibility Issues

A little-known Windows 7 feature can help you run pesky programs that require Vista or XP.

Windows 7 has the same core code as Windows Vista, right? So application compatibility should be a non-issue, right?

Wrong.

Recently I tried to apply a firmware update to a Blu-ray drive, but the installer was designed for Vista and produced an error in Windows 7.

Meanwhile, I've had ongoing problems getting my iPhone to sync properly with iTunes--even though it worked just fine in Vista.

Much as I like Windows 7, at times like these I wish I could turn back the clock and run Vista, or even XP.

Turns out I can. Windows 7 has a little-known feature that helps you troubleshoot application compatibility. Here's how to use it:

1. Right-click the icon of the app that's not working properly, then click Troubleshoot compatibility.

2. Windows will try to detect compatibility issues, then give you two options: Try recommended settings and Troubleshoot program. I recommend trying the first option first; if it doesn't work, you can always return and try the second (which gives you the choice of which previous version of Windows you want compatibility with).

3. After Windows applies the selected settings, click Start Program and see if that solves the problem. Either way, click Next to have Windows apply the settings "permanently" or try again with different settings.

This tool solved both my aforementioned problems. For iTunes I let Windows choose the settings (XP with Service Pack 2, in case you're wondering), and sure enough, my iPhone synced perfectly.

For the firmware updater, I chose my own settings--Vista with SP1, as that was the installed OS before I upgrade to Windows 7--and again it did the trick.

Compatibility problems can be vexing, to say the least, but I'm glad Microsoft thought to supply a simple, effective workaround.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Windows 7

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Rick Broida

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Cate Bacon

Aruba Instant On AP11D

The strength of the Aruba Instant On AP11D is that the design and feature set support the modern, flexible, and mobile way of working.

Dr Prabigya Shiwakoti

Aruba Instant On AP11D

Aruba backs the AP11D up with a two-year warranty and 24/7 phone support.

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?