Find out how old bargain software can be made to run on modern PCs Introduction The older a software application is, the less it is likely to cost and in many cases you needn't pay more to buy new softwares from different shops. The cheapest programs are likely to be those that were originally written for an earlier version of Windows. But, just because your computer's current version of Windows isn't named on a program's box (how could it be when it was invented after the program?), this doesn't mean the program won't work properly or reliably. Both Windows XP and Windows Vista can run software designed for versions going right back to Windows 95. Just make sure the program is supplied on CD and not on floppy disks because most modern PCs don't have a floppy disk drive. You only need to follow the six steps to do the task successfully: The first step Installing a program means copying its files from the CD it was supplied on and storing them on the computer's hard disk. In most cases this happens automatically when a disc is inserted into the CD drive. If it doesn't, start Windows Explorer by holding down the Windows key (the one with the flag on it) and pressing E. When Explorer starts, double-click the CD drive in the list of drives on the left of the screen to reveal the contents of the CD on the right. To install the program, double-click the setup or setup.exe icon. The second step, If the program still doesn't run properly, select ‘No, try different compatibility settings' and then click Next. Select the same version of Windows as you did in Step 5, followed by Next. This time, on the display settings page select the 256 colors and Disable visual themes checkboxes, and then keep pressing Next until the program starts again with its new settings. If problems remain, repeat the process, ticking every option on the display settings page (three in Windows XP and five in Vista). These settings should allow most older programs to run happily. The third step, Once the program has been installed, there will almost certainly be an entry for it on the Start menu and in many cases an icon on the Windows Desktop. Try starting the program by one of these methods to see what happens. Many older programs run perfectly as soon as they've been installed, others might appear to run fine at first, but with non-working features that come to light at a later date, and in a very few cases the program might not run at all. To tackle these problems you need the help of the Program Compatibility wizard, seen here running in Windows XP. The fourth step, To open the Program Compatibility wizard in Windows XP, click the Start button and point to All Programs, then point to Accessories and click Program Compatibility Wizard. In Windows Vista, click the Start button and then Control Panel. When the Control Panel is displayed click on Programs, and then in the Program and Features section click ‘Use another program with this version of Windows'. Before going any further, locate the ‘system requirements' listed on program's packaging or search for them using Google. Those shown here are for the 2001 version of Microsoft Works Suite. The fifth step, The crucial system requirement to note is the recommended version of Windows. Also important is the suggested screen mode, both in terms of recommended resolution (likely to be 640x480 pixels or higher) and the number of colours (likely to be 256 or higher). Don't worry about processor and memory types. Armed with this information, click the Next button on the opening screen of the Program Compatibility Wizard. Select ‘I want to choose from a list of programs' and then click Next to see a list of what's installed on your computer. The sixth step, Click to select the program and then click Next to pick a compatible version of Windows. Those listed here are from the Windows XP Compatibility Wizard; Vista also lists Windows XP and Server 2003. Select the most recent version of Windows mentioned in the system requirements and then click Next. When asked to choose from a list of display settings, ignore the request and simply keep clicking Next until the program runs for the first time in compatibility mode. If all is well, select 'Yes, set this program to always use these compatibility settings' and click Next to close the wizard. NB: Windows XP and Vista can run software designed for versions going back to Windows 95.