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I have an older app I need to access, which will not get past the initial installation screen with the message, "software is not supported on a 64-bit operating system. Please install on a 32-bit machine." (I am using W10 Pro x64.)

Is there any hack I can do to see if I can at least get the installer to complete? I could put a Win XP VM on my PC, but I would rather not have to do that.

marked as duplicate by DavidPostill windows Feb 1 '17 at 21:26

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  • have you tried launching the installer in winxp compatibility mode? – konqui Feb 1 '17 at 20:08
  • @konqui yes - that didn't help at all. – Conrad Feb 1 '17 at 20:10
  • maybe you find an answer in this already existing thread superuser.com/questions/961171/… – konqui Feb 1 '17 at 20:14
  • Some installers use Zip compression without encryption. Try opening the installer in 7-Zip and extracting the files to a folder, other than those beginning '$', which are installer directives. The application may work from that folder, though some functionality may be lost, e.g. context-menu integration in Explorer. This works better with EXE rather than with MSI installers. – DrMoishe Pippik Feb 1 '17 at 20:24

There are 2 possibilities here:

  1. The installer is 16-bit, but the application is actually 32-bit. In this case manually unpacking the installer might give you the ability to run the application RAW (directly from the unpacked files without a proper install). It is also possible that inside that unpacked installer there is a normal 32-bit setup.exe. In that case just run that to install the application.
    In either case you may need to fiddle with the compatibility settings (set to XP) to get it to work.
  2. The whole application is 16-bit: In that case you MUST use a 32-bit VM machine. I wouldn't bother with XP-mode as that is often a problem in itself to get it to work. You have W10 Pro so you have Hyper-V available. I would just create a Hyper-V VM with 32-bit Windows 7. You can still keep that current with WindowsUpdate.
    This is what we do at the office with a bunch of old CAD-CAM applications that we still occasionally need to convert an old CAD drawing to a newer format. (Actually those CAD apps are 32-bit (with 16-bit installer), but it isn't possible to get them to work properly via method 1.)
  • Ended up using a W7 32-bit OS in Hyper-V - works well. – Conrad Feb 15 '17 at 16:07

You did not specify the software, but one possible workaround is to bypass the installer by installing the software on 32-bit machine and then copying installed files to your 64-bit system and creating necessary registry entries manually. (You can sniff them by Process Monitor during the installation. See comment below for helper PowerShell scripts.)

This could be very labor-intensive way for complex applications, but on the other way, there are many applications which use the installer simply for copying the files, creating Start Menu items, writing few registry entries (if any) and nearly nothing else. In such cases, you could easily succeed.

Another thing is whether the application would be able to work properly in 64-bit environment. You can try with compatibility settings and you might or might not succeed. But you asked for a workaround so here it is.

Another attempt to open the installer package manually (in many cases it is either executable ZIP file or Windows Installer package) and extract its content. MSI installers and some EXE installers can be unpacked this way although you will basically get the same file set which you get on 32-bit machine, so no big deal here. But in many cases such an extraction is possible.

Related links: Unpacking MSI package and Opening self-extracting EXE archive.

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