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Install and run 32 bit on 64 bit machine

Today I tried to install Quake 3 from my original 1999 CD on a Windows 7 laptop. Windows 7 resolutely refused to run the installer, helpfully explaining that I might need a 32- or 64-bit version, depending on what my OS is (you have to love those Windows error messages: absolutely correct, but as unhelpful as humanly possible).

In any case, of course the 1999 software is 32-bit, and the laptop is 64-bit. But I was pretty sure that 64-bit Windows versions could handle running 32-bit software. What gives?

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marked as duplicate by KronoS, Simon Sheehan, Renan, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, 8088 Jul 17 '12 at 0:20

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

According to this Facepunch thread, the Quake III CD comes with a 16-bit "Autorun" launcher. (Windows refuses to run it since 64-bit x86_64 does not support running 16-bit code natively.) However, you can bypass the launcher and run DEMO32.EXE directly, which contains the actual installation program; when prompted for a file, give it QIII.DBD.

Method 1: If you MUST have a classic QIII/Q3TA installation

Instead of launching SETUP.EXE, just run DEMO32.EXE and a file open dialog should appear. Point it to QIII.DBD on the CD.


Remember to apply the 1.32 point release AFTER installing both Q3A and Q3TA. The official 1.32 point release is available from the official ID Software site -

Method 2: Using ioQuake3

There is an engine update called ioQuake3. It's less buggy and more efficient than classic Q3 1.32

Install ioQuake3 first ( and then from the same page, grab the data installer as well. It will unpack your CD for you.

(KD007 on Facepunch)

In the earlier days of 32-bit Windows, many 32-bit programs would come with 16-bit installers (especially InstallShield) or at least having an initial 16-bit stage; one possible reason for this was to display a proper explanation message when the user attempted to install the program in Windows 3.x.

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Excellent, that works flawlessly. I note with some amusement that the error message could have said that setup.exe was 16-bit, but did not explicitly mention it. –  Ernest Friedman-Hill Mar 29 '12 at 23:08
Note that for a very limited list of 16-bit installer technologies (the cases where it was legally and technically feasible, and where the effort was deemed essential for backwards compatibility), Windows has on-the-fly replacement programs that will silently run in place of the actual 16-bit installer. These proxy programs know about the internal format used by the installer and can do the installation on their behalf. See…. –  Euro Micelli Jul 25 '14 at 3:32

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