What is program compatibility?

Program compatibility is a mode in Windows that lets you run programs written for earlier versions of Windows. Most programs written for Windows Vista also work in Windows 7, but some older programs might run poorly or not run at all.

What to try first

If an older program doesn't run correctly, the first, and easiest, thing to try is the Program Compatibility troubleshooter. It can automatically detect and fix common problems that prevent older programs from installing or running correctly.

Open the Program Compatibility troubleshooter by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type troubleshooter, and then click Troubleshooting. Under Programs, click Run programs made for previous versions of Windows.

Other things to try

If the troubleshooter isn't able to fix the problem, try the following:

  • Change the compatibility settings on the program manually. For more information, see Make older programs run in this version of Windows.

  • Go online to the Windows 7 Compatibility Center to find out if your program is compatible with Windows 7 or to look for new programs.

  • Go online to your computer or software manufacturer's website to check for information on how to make the program compatible with Windows 7.

  • Go online to the Microsoft Answers website. In the Forums, you can ask questions or share information with others who are interested in the same topic.


  • Don't use the Program Compatibility troubleshooter on older antivirus programs, disk utilities, or other system programs, because using outdated programs of this type might cause data loss or create a security risk.

  • Some compatibility problems might be caused by drivers. If an older driver is causing problems, you'll need to update it manually. For more information, see Update drivers: recommended links.

  • You can also open the Program Compatibility troubleshooter by right-clicking a program's icon or shortcut, and then clicking Troubleshoot compatibility.