Dealing with Software Incompatibility in Vista

Regardless of Windows Vista’s compatibility successes, compatibility issues can still bite you when you least expect it. Fear not: There are ways to get around most software incompatibility issues. You just have to know where to look.

Compatibility Mode
If you do run into an application that won’t work properly in Windows Vista, first try to run it within a special emulation mode called compatibility mode. This enables you to trick the application into thinking it is running on an older version of Windows. There are two ways to trigger this functionality: automatically via a wizard, or manually via the Explorer shell. There’s also a third related function, the Program Compatibility Assistant, which appears automatically when Windows Vista detects you’re having a problem installing or using an application.

Using the Program Compatibility Wizard
You’d think that using a wizard would be easier than manually configuring compatibility mode manually; and it would be if you could just find the wizard. Unfortunately, the
Program Compatibility Wizard isn’t available from the Windows Vista user interface.
Instead, you have to trigger it from within Help and Support. Here’s how: Open the Start Menu and choose Help and Support. In that application’s Search box, type Program Compatibility Wizard and press Enter. The first search result you’ll see will be Start the Program Compatibility Wizard. This entry provides a link to start the wizard.

The admittedly bare-bones-looking Program Compatibility Wizard steps you through the process of identifying the application to run in compatibility mode and which settings you’d like to configure. These steps include the following:

• Locating the application: You can have the wizard automatically generate a list of potential applications, which includes applications already installed on the system as well as downloaded and optical-disk-based installer applications. Alternately, you can choose the installer in the optical (CD-ROM) drive or locate the application manually.

• Select a compatibility mode: Select which version of Windows you’d like to emulate for that one application. Possibilities include Windows 95, Windows 98/Me, Windows NT 4.0 (Service Pack 5), Windows 2000, Windows XP (Service Pack 2), and Windows Server 2003 (Service Pack 1). You can also choose not to use a compatibility mode.

• Choose display settings: You can choose from a variety of settings that might positively affect the application. These include using only 256 colors, using a 640 × 480 resolution, disabling Vista’s visual themes, disabling desktop composition (which is responsible for the Windows Aero user interface), and disabling display scaling on high-DPI displays. These options can all be disabled independently.

• Administrative privileges: If the program must be run with administrative privileges, you can enable that functionality here.

Once you’ve configured things as you like, you can test-run the application to see how
things work out. You can then either accept the configuration, go back and make changes,
or just quit the wizard.

Enabling Compatibility Mode Manually
You don’t actually have to hunt around for the Program Compatibility Wizard if you want to run an application in compatibility mode. Instead, find the executable (or, better yet, a shortcut to the executable, such as the ones you’ll find in the Start Menu), right-click, and choose Properties. Then, navigate to the Compatibility tab. As you can see, this tab provides all of the options found in the wizard, but in a handier, more easily contained location. Just pick the options you’d like, click Apply, and test the application. Once it’s working correctly, you can click OK and never bother with this interface again. Compatibility mode is a great (if hidden) feature, but it’s no panacea. Some applications will simply never run on Windows Vista, no matter what you do.

Understanding the Program Compatibility Assistant
When Windows Vista detects that you’re installing an application with a known compatibility problem or suspects that a just-completed application installation has not concluded successfully, it will offer to fix the problem. This functionality, called the Program Compatibility Assistant, occurs automatically. You’re free to decline the offer if you believe the application ran correctly. There is no way to trigger it manually, as you can with program-compatibility mode.

Source of information : Wiley Windows Vista Secrets SP1 Edition

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