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What is the Program Compatibility Assistant?

The Program Compatibility Assistant detects known compatibility issues in older programs. After you have run an older program in this version of Windows, it notifies you if there is a problem and offers to fix it the next time you run the program. If the compatibility issue is serious, the Program Compatibility Assistant might warn you or block the program from running. If that happens, you'll have the option to check online for possible solutions.

To find out if your programs (or programs you plan to buy) are compatible with Windows Vista, go online to the Windows Vista Compatibility Center. This website contains a comprehensive list of programs and devices that work with Windows Vista.

What changes does it make?

It depends on the problem, but any changes made are related to how Windows runs the program. No changes are made to the program itself. For example, the Program Compatibility Assistant can resolve conflicts with User Account Control, a new security feature in this version of Windows that can help make your computer safer. Or, it can run the program in a mode that simulates earlier versions of Windows. The changes that Program Compatibility Assistant makes are done automatically, so you don't need to make them.

How do I turn it off or turn it back on?

Adjustments to the Program Compatibility Wizard can be made by using Group Policy. For more information on how to use Group Policy, go to the Microsoft website for IT professionals.

Can I run it manually?

No. The Program Compatibility Assistant runs automatically when it detects an older program that has a compatibility problem. However, you can use the Program Compatibility Wizard, a separate but related feature of Windows, on a program or on a setup file if it won't work or install correctly. For more information, see Make older programs run in this version of Windows‍‍.

How is the Program Compatibility Assistant different from the Program Compatibility Wizard?

The Program Compatibility Assistant is an automatic feature of Windows that runs when it detects an older program has a compatibility problem. The Program Compatibility Wizard is a tool you can run manually on a program if you notice compatibility issues. For more information, see Start the Program Compatibility Wizard.