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Will Windows XP programs run in Windows Vista?

Posted By : of Data Doctors on January 26, 2007

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If an application can run in Windows 2000 as well as XP would/should they still be able to run in Vista? Has some backward compatibility ever been addressed in Vista?


This question was answered on January 26, 2007. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Your question is one of the prime questions that everyone should be asking before they decide to upgrade to Vista

Unfortunately, there is no connection between programs that can run under Windows 2000 or Windows XP and their ability to run under Windows Vista, although Microsoft is claiming that most will.

Each application is unique and has specific interaction points with the operating system that will determine compatibility.

This means the only way to know for sure is get confirmation from the developer of the program Windows Vista is going to impact every software company in a major way, so most of them are already testing and posting their compatibility statements on their respective websites.

There are three categories of software compatibility that will come into play:

- Programs that are fully compatible and will run with no problems
- Programs that will run but have minor compatibility issues that can be worked around or ignored
- Programs that won’t run at all or have heavy compatibility issues that render the programs practically useless

The kinds of programs that are going to be the “most likely to experience a problem” include:

- Custom built programs
- Older programs that were designed to run on Windows 98, ME or DOS
- Remote access or VPN (Virtual Private Network) programs
- Special “plug-ins” or custom applets for Windows
- Point Of Sale programs in retail environments
- Sync software for PDAs and Smartphones
- Security software such as firewalls, anti-virus & anti-spyware, especially those designed to work in a corporate environment
- Older Automated Backup Software
- Specialized audio and video editing programs
- Older games, especially those that have their own graphics engine

The problems that may come up can range from very minor to extremely complex

Microsoft has posted a download called the Vista Upgrade Advisor at (click on the Get Ready button) which does a great job of looking at all the various areas of your existing computer to see if there are going to be problems.

Not only will it review the programs that you have installed, it will check your hardware to see which version of Vista will run on your machine as well as suggestions to make Vista run better.

Another area of concern for upgrading to Vista are “drivers”; small software programs that allow components and peripherals (video cards, sound cards, printers, scanners, digital cameras, etc.) to communicate with Windows.

In past operating system upgrades, the drivers were amongst the most challenging because they had to be re-written by the manufacturer of the device before it would work properly

This means you should also visit the websites of the manufacturers of all of these items as well as your software If you don’t see a specific update for your device for Windows Vista, that may be another reason to wait

The more time you spend investigating before you decide to switch to Windows Vista, the less time you will spend trying to get everything to work after the fact.

About the author

of Data Doctors on January 26, 2007

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