Developers create programs to install and run on computers which satiate pre-defined specs. These conditions are related to OS, hardware, or the framework used to build the app. Authors set compatibility requirements in their programs to ensure that it runs flawlessly for the end-users. However, at times, these implementations make Windows programs incompatible on some computers which have a different profile. The system may still perhaps run it, but the pre-set incompatibility instruction stops the installation.
Typically, Windows alerts users with error codes when it finds a program as not compatible. There are a lot of alert messages, but here is one I come across recently.
This program cannot be installed on Windows NT version 6.0 or later.
I got this error when I try installing an old software on a PC running Windows 8. You have to learn more about Windows NT versions to understand this further.
NT or Networking Technology is an internal code name for Windows versions. NT numbering is accessible in older Window PCs when you take the “About Windows” option in Control Panel. The NT number is 10.0 for latest Windows 10.
Now for the case above, the error implies that I cannot run the app on Windows NT version 6.0, which as per the table, is Windows Vista. The easiest way to fix these type of errors is to find the Windows edition corresponding to the NT version number, and run the PC in compatibility mode.
Steps to install an old program or game when Windows reports it as not compatible
The following is the universal method to run incompatible programs on Windows PCs when the OS does not let you install it in the regular form. We recently found success in applying the same method to fix Skype installer on Windows 10.
- Locate the installer file [.EXE or MSI] of the Windows program that is outing error codes.
- Right-click on the installer and take “Properties” option.
- Now, find the compatibility tab, and move down to “Run this program in compatibility mode” section.
- Next, choose the Windows version you think that would fix the installation.
- Consider adjusting the bit-rate in the “Reduced Color mode” setting if you’re trying to fix a very old game, say “Road Rash.”
- Apply the changes, and re-run the installer to check whether it works.
Watch the video instruction for more information.
You may also run the Windows compatibility troubleshooter to automate the steps given above.
Microsoft has a built-in program for solving compatibility issues in Windows 10 and other recent OS versions. Here is how you could use this app if it doesn’t open automatically.
- Search for “Compatibility” in the Windows search box.
- Take the first result which opens Program Compatibility Troubleshooter application.
- Click Next, and then select the incompatible program from the list that appears.
- Pick the “Not Listed” line if you do not see the target program on the list.
- Press Next and browse to locate the app installer and proceed.
- Choose to go with the “Recommended Settings” as Windows automatically configures the incompatible installer in the next step.
Follow these steps whenever and wherever you find a Windows application that not compatible with a particular OS version. This technique works in most of the cases. However, there may be security issues associated with old software-so be careful when you do this for unknown applications.
Alternatives when you cannot install a Windows app [older games and programs] with the compatibility mode.
Older games and programs created for Windows XP, Windows 98 and Windows 95 runs well in Windows 10 (32-bit) with the help of compatibility mode or Virtual DOS machine (NTVDM). However, Windows 10 64-bit edition doesn’t support games or applications [.exe] for DOS or 16-bit platforms. You will get an error “This app can’t run on your PC” just as in the screenshot below.
If such cases, if the compatibility fails, the best option is relying on virtualization. It enables you to install old Windows editions like XP on Virtual hard disks setup within an existing OS say Windows 10. It is then possible to run the Windows XP programs, or much older 16-bit games from the virtual OS environment. Check our page on This app can’t run on your PC for a guide on setting up Windows XP virtualization on Windows 10 64-bit.
Microsoft Hyper-V technologies included in Windows 10 is also an excellent choice to run previous Windows versions and old programs on new PCs.
However, virtualization has its disadvantages too. Running Windows as a guest OS in a Windows host requires ample hardware for smooth opeartion. Also, you also need to buy or download previous OS versions aid the virtualization.