I have a really old installer (legacy app) that we are trying to get running on a Windows 7 64 bit os.

Previously it has only been installed on Windows XP 32 bit. I get the following error when I try to run it:

The version of this file is not compatible with the version of Windows 
you're running. Check your computer's system information to see whether 
you need an x86 (32-bit) or x64 (64-bit) version of the program, and then 
contact the software publisher.

Contacting the software publisher is not an option (software is super old).

Is there a way to get this to work? Some sort of compatibility mode?

The only thing I have heard of that will work is a Virtual XP on the Win 7 box. The problem is that this software is a part of a whole software set. I would have to put all of the pieces on the Virtual XP or none at all.

Before I go down the road of putting it all on the virtual xp I would like to know that there is no way to get it all on the Win 7 os.

  • What program is it? What does it do? Does it include a driver install or control specialized hardware? I know that legacy software for devices like old CNC Mills don't really work on win7. – Doltknuckle Jun 7 '10 at 16:29
  • @Doltknuckle - It is an installer that has the 1999(ish) Delphi BDE in it. We need the BDE to run other legacy apps. There are no drivers in the installer. – Vaccano Jun 7 '10 at 16:34
  • Does the file name end in .com? – Hello71 Jun 7 '10 at 21:18
  • No, it is an installer built with install shield. It ends in exe. – Vaccano Jun 8 '10 at 14:52
  • I managed to get this exact same error on a 64 bit machine by accidentally renaming a zip file to an exe. This is not an answer by itself I know, but is something that I couldn't find by googling. – JumpingJezza Nov 29 '12 at 6:36

You say it is a really old installer, is it a 16-bit application? All 16-bit application support was dropped from Windows 7 x64 - It will not run, at all. You will need to use an emulator or move back to 32-bit Windows. XP mode in Windows 7 might be an easy solution to get this application up and running seamlessly.

  • I don't know if it is 16 bit. I don't think so, but how can I find out the "bit" status of my installer? (Just to be sure.) – Vaccano Jun 7 '10 at 18:49
  • microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/security/learnmore/spot16bit.mspx Shows how to detect a 16-bit application, but you might need to have a working copy of Windows XP. – Darth Android Jun 7 '10 at 19:45
  • Yep, that message indicates that you are trying to run a 16-bit application on a 64-bit machine. HOWEVER, 16-bit support was NOT dropped in Windows 7 like the answer says, but actually is not permitted (i.e. will refuse to execute) by the CPU itself if it is running in 64-bit mode. – Hello71 Jun 7 '10 at 21:18
  • 1
    Actually, IIRC, the CPU will not execute 16-bit code in 64-bit mode. – Hello71 Jun 28 '10 at 22:13
  • 1
    @Hello is right, an x86-64 CPU running Windows in "full" 64-bit mode will not run 16 bit code: support.microsoft.com/kb/282423 Also in full 64-bit mode a number of 16-bit CPU features are disabled as per en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X86-64 (see "Removal of older features") – Mokubai Mar 12 '11 at 15:46

With legacy installers you really just have to fiddle around with the settings. Try setting compatibility mode to Windows XP SP 3 and Set run as administrator.

Some legacy installers can be "unzipped". Meaning some zip utilities can actually unzip the files the program is supposed to install. Now I don't recommend it, but you could try to manually move the files yourself.

  • Inside the .exe installer was the installer for GTA2.exe that worked. Thank you very much! (I've used Winrar). I'm afraid I would not have thought that, so, thanks. – Ericson Willians Jan 9 '15 at 13:18

If running the installer in compatibility mode with UAC turned off (registry change) doesn't work, the next step is to try a manual install. This is where you use file comparison techniques to find what the installer actually does to your computer and mirroring that to your windows 7 machine. If you've never done this before, I wouldn't recommend it because you can run into a lot of problems trying to get everything working. Which I know from experience is a real pain to get everything.

The better option is to download and enable XP mode in windows 7 (doesn't work with win 7 home or starter). This would at least give you desktop shortcuts that launch the VM on demand. You can find it here.


I have had the exact same error message for a corrupt installer.

An installer that was created for Windows 7 (32bit/64bit) in the first place, got corrupt while being transferred via email, showing this message (on Windows 7 64bit). The non-corrupt file installed fine.

So, I suggest you try the installer on a Win XP machine before trying more technical operations.

If the installer is indeed corrupt, then you will have to find a backup or get it somewhere else.

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