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Op-Ed: Compatibility mode — A lousy joke for PC owners Special

By Paul Wallis     Sep 10, 2011 in Technology
Sydney - When you buy a new operating system like Windows 7, which is a very good, no-nonsense system in many ways, you don’t expect to have to use old operating systems to run old games. I discovered that just about all my old software simply didn’t run.
Win 7 is a worthy successor to its predecessors, Win 98 and XP in many ways. It’s a no-fuss system, and it’s highly responsive. So why the weird situation that old programs, which require a fraction of the processing grunt of new games, simply don’t operate?
My experience was apparently pretty typical. I had some favourite old games like Civ 2 Test of Time, which ran well on XP SP3 but won’t even start on Win 7. This is a classic, highly addictive game, and not having it is like not having an old friend.
I tried-
Compatibility for XP SP 3
Compatibility for XP SP 2
Compatibility for Win 98 (the original platform)
Result, zip. The same applied to a whole suite of software including music writing software and other comparatively basic “list-read” types of program.
Had the same problems with Civ 4, which had “known issues” according to Windows. Known, obviously, but apparently not fixed.
It’s like buying a LEGO set that doesn’t work. By modern standards, and even allowing for software shortcomings and neurotic proprietary materials, these things should run.
Computer owners accumulate a lot of basic software over time, hundreds or thousands of dollars’ worth of materials. All it takes is a new operating system to make these investments worthless. When the work involved is creative or professional work, that’s a very expensive proposition. If these things can’t be copied or have to be reworked from scratch, it’s even more expensive.
For example:
I have saved on my backup hard drives a lot of music. The software doesn’t run or even attempt to run on Win 7. It won’t even install. To add insult to grievance, it goes through the motions of installation, and then you check Control Panel and find the installation has zero space. Wonderful.
Is it really asking so much to simply have basic capacity to run old software? I’m sure a lot of noise has been made about covering these issues, but the reality is that absolutely nothing works. I’ve now got a whole drawer full of software and commercial materials which simply don’t do a damn thing.
Game software has a lot of common denominators. Games are basically layered GUIs with options. Graphics have changed a lot in the last decade, but the old graphics are hardly unreadable.
The options are:
1. Install XP on the computer and hope it runs.
2. Try for “virtual XP” and hope I don’t crash the computer.
3. Buy another computer and install Win 98 and XP on that.
Not too glitzy a set of options, is it? I’d be interested to hear any suggestions, because I’m now sitting on a lot of GB of useful stuff I’d really like to be able to work with.
Another thing I’d like to know- the 32 bit vs. 64 bit issue. This computer is 64 bit duo core. Doesn’t 32 bit involve using a lot less actual capacity?
According to
Will a 64 bit CPU run a standard (32-bit) program on a 64-bit version of an OS?
Yes it will. 64 bit systems are backward compatible with the 32 bit counterparts.
So there shouldn’t be a problem, but there is one? Excuse my ignorance, but doesn’t that rather prove my point? There’s no reason why a modern computer can’t run these things?
What seems to be “backward incompatible” is the logic of operating systems that don’t do basic things.
There’d be a lot of money in a simple fix for these things. People wouldn’t mind paying simply to get their software functional again.
That said; the “no-run effect” is a bad habit. There shouldn’t be any sort of software that doesn’t run on a modern computer, period.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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