If you had an older application that no longer functions after you install Windows XP, such as DVD player, you can use the Windows XP compatibility feature to run those programs in different modes or environments, and with various settings.
Windows XP tells you which program may not function properly when XP is installed. This gives you an opportunity to update the program, drivers, or hardware. However, some programs may not make the jump, or not be worth an upgrade, so the Program Compatibility can come in handy.
You can launch the Wizard by right clicking on an application file and clicking on the Compatibility tab. A link to the program found on that tab will launch the wizard, which will test your program using different modes and settings. Settings you can try include Windows 95 or Windows 2000, as well as 256 colors or a screen resolution of 640 x 480 pixels, among others. You can set the settings yourself manually on the Compatibility tab, and test the program yourself.
Microsoft also says that if you can't even install the application on Windows XP that you can use the Program Compatibility Wizard on the setup file for the program. The file may be called Setup.exe or Install.exe and is found on the Installation disk.
Don't forget that you should always check a vendor's Web site to get all updates and patches, check Windows Update to have current system files, and install the latest drivers like DirectX so that if XP isn't the problem at least you have the latest and greatest to work with.
Try out the Compatibility feature and you may find yourself enjoying some of your favorite programs again before you know it.
Barrie Sosinsky (firstname.lastname@example.org)is president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.
This was first published in January 2002