With Vista and up, 64-bit versions of Windows no longer support 16-bit programs, but 32-bit versions can still run them. Windows 8 has changed a lot of things from even Windows 7, and there were rumors a while back that it would only be available in 64-bit[1][2] which seems not to be the case anymore. It’s no secret thet Microsoft is pushing users to migrate to 64-bit systems. Have they dropped 16-bit support from Windows 8 altogether (including 32-bit versions)?

  • Why would you want to do such a thing? Oct 22, 2012 at 18:10
  • 5
    @NathanAdams, your question makes no sense. Why would someone want to jump out of a plane or move to another country? Just because you have no need doesn’t mean that nobody else in the whole world does (hence the continuing 16-bit support in Windows 8). If you are simply asking of a practical reason, then the answer is because some people have 16-bit programs that have/want to run.
    – Synetech
    Oct 22, 2012 at 20:23
  • The point is that most 16bit programs that attempt to run on a modern processor may not run (right) at all due to the vast difference in clock speed. This is apparent in many games. You wouldn't want your book keeping application as a 16bit application. With the advent of services available via the cloud, software available for pennies on the dollar, and subcontracting for super cheap - it doesn't make sense to run such archaic software. Oct 23, 2012 at 2:35
  • @NathanAdams, again, you are simplifying things for yourself. There do exist tools that may run just fine. For example, I have some simple command-line tools that are 16-bit like old .com files or programs compiled with Pascal for DOS that do things like echo without a newline, move the cursor, set text colors, print the date/time, parse a file, etc. These work just fine and while some functions may now be built-in, many/most are not and it is not always feasible (or even possible in some cases) to update and/or re-compile them for 32- or 64-bit.
    – Synetech
    Oct 23, 2012 at 4:12
  • 1
    We actually use (modern) software that requires a dongle. The dongle requires a driver that is 16bit.
    – cpuguy83
    Jan 7, 2013 at 18:05

3 Answers 3


While 64-bit copies of Windows 8 do not support 16-bit applications, they are still supported on 32-bit copies[1][2][3]. However, they are not supported by default and must be manually turned on with a Control Panel applet:

16-bit support Control Panel applet


As per Windows 7, 16-bit applications simply cannot run on a 64-bit Windows 8 installation.

However, the NTVDM required to run 16-bit applications is still available on 32-bit Windows 8 systems:

The NTVDM is present in all 32-bit NT-based Windows versions including Vista, 7 and 8, except for in 64-bit versions.

As Synetech noted, this feature is disable by default and must be manually enabled.


This is the same as Windows Vista or Windows 7. If you have a 64bit version of Windows, you cannot run 16bit applications. If you have a 32bit version of Windows, you can run 16bit applications.

Workaround for 64bit systems: In Windows 7 64bit you could just download the Virtual PC XP Mode and run your 16bit application there. I'm not sure if Windows 8 also provides an XP Mode (I don't think so) but (some versions?) of Windows 8 come with Hyper-V support. So you could easily run e.g. Windows XP in your Hyper-v to have 16bit support.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/download.aspx Link


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.