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We've had a nasty one come up at work.

We have to resurrect and modify a piece of code that was last built sometime in the late 1990s. The toolset ran on Windows 3.1 and 3.11. It does not run under Windows XP: NTVDM reports an unhandled exception. We've tried everything we can think of for compatibility. (If anyone has a serious checklist for this kind of thing, I'll take it.)

Is there a way, using a third-party virtual machine system, or SOMETHING, to run a real, live, honest-to-Ghu Windows 3.1 operating system, possibly on a simulated machine, in Windows XP or Windows 7? I think we can then install the old toolset on the simulated machine and do what we need to do.

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migrated from programmers.stackexchange.com Nov 27 '12 at 17:38

This question came from our site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development.

    
randythetechprofessor.com/… – suslik Nov 27 '12 at 17:22
    
Have you tried dosbox? A simple google search resulted in several guides on the subject. – Ramhound Nov 27 '12 at 17:23

You can run Windows 3.1 in VmWare, VirtualBox, Bochs or any other virtual machine with full PC hardware emulation mode. Also I heard Windows 3.11 can run under DosBox, but haven't tried that myself.

Also you can try installing Windows 95 in VM and running your toolchain on it, 16-bit subsystem of Win95 is very similar to Win3.x, but user interface is better.

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Your best bet would probably be to emulate a 16-bit processor. My understanding is that qemu can emulate a 16-bit x86 processor:

http://qemu.weilnetz.de/qemu-tech.html#intro_005fx86_005femulation

You would then be able to install Win3.1 on a fresh image and go from there.

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VirtualBox is free, you can probably find win 3.1/3.11 on some abandonware site and have it all up and running in less than 20 mins.

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Have you tried http://www.dosbox.com/ ?

I never tried but I know it is used to run old DOS games on new machines.

If it can old DOS games I think it'll be able to handle your app.

I've done a Google search for DOSBox and NTVDM and this came up:

http://www.remkoweijnen.nl/blog/2011/12/14/ntvdm-encountered-a-hard-error/

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VMWare player is free for non-commercial use: http://www.vmware.com/products/player

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