I've got a Windows 10 Computer (home edition), which has 4GB of Ram and an i5 processor. I need to run an old 32 bit accounting programme. The vendor said it won't release a 64 bit version (although a 64bit version exists, it's missing key features from the older version).

The programme installs fine, but when I click on the programme icon, it says the programme won't work on a 64 bit system.

What options do I have?

I've done a fair bit of research, but it seems to run up dead ends.

1) WoW64


Apparently, this is supposed to let you run 32 bits on 64 bit Windows. However, I am not sure how to install it. I think it's for web servers only. However, this Stack Overflow thread says it can work on Windows 7, but doesn't explain how to set it up (or if it will work on Windows 10).

2) XP mode


A 32bit Windows XP emulator. However, it seems to be for Windows 7 only. Also according to this Stack Overflow thread, you need Windows Professional.

3) Virtual Box Machine


Let's you emulate Windows. Seems overkill for my purposes. Plus I would need to buy a 32 bit Windows license. I think it would run slowly with 4GB of Ram.

4) Partition drive into 32bit and 64 bit versions Apparently, you can use the free tool EaseUS to split the drive into two and then install separate 32bit and 64 bit versions.

Again, seems overkill and it looks like I would need buy a 32 bit Windows 10 license.

Are these my only options?




First run (From the error message I guess it's a 16-bit program) First run

Clicking on programme When clicking on Programme

  • 5
    Windows 10 64 bit will run 32 bit programs. Just install it.
    – DavidPostill
    Aug 22, 2015 at 14:37
  • 5
    The only problem you might have is really old programs can use 16bit installers which won't run on 64bit. Aug 22, 2015 at 14:40
  • 1
    Then it may be a 32-bit program with a 16-bit installer as @DavidMarshall mentioned.
    – MC10
    Aug 22, 2015 at 14:47
  • 1
    @big_smile What is the exact error message? Upload a screenshot to imgur.com and post the link.
    – DavidPostill
    Aug 22, 2015 at 14:47
  • 2
    It isn't possible to run a 16-bit application on 64-bit operating system. Use a virtual machine with a 32-bit operating system.
    – Ramhound
    Aug 22, 2015 at 15:58

4 Answers 4


Simply put, if you want to operate an older, 16-bit program, you have to be running a 32-bit version of Windows. 64-bit versions of the operating system simply do not support it, as they lack the compatibility layer (they are compatible with the more widely used 32-bit software, however). There are some other limitations of 64-bit Windows, but the key point here is that 16-bit programs won't execute.

Edit: After revisiting this question some time later, I'd like to address your findings in the OP.

  1. WoW64 lets you run 32-bit programs in a 64-bit Windows environment. It is built into the Windows operating system and does not require additional installation. Similarly, 32-bit installations of Windows can run 16-bit programs.
  2. XP Mode was a feature of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate, that allowed you to run the more popular at the time Windows XP in a virtual machine.
  3. Virtual Box, or any virtual machine software (VMWare is another example) allows you to install an operating system inside and run it inside of your primary machine. This would be arguable the easiest way to achieve your goal as you could simply install the software onto a 32-bit virtual OS. If you gave the VM 2GB of memory access, on a 32-bit install, it would run okay. Sluggish, but okay.
  4. Partitioning your drive would allow you to dual boot twin installations of Windows. This is a more permanent solution, and shouldn't be done IMO unless you can't run the VM.

This isn't 32-bit, it's 16-bit

This would require you to be able run a 16-bit WoW memory space.

WoW16 stands for Windows on Windows.

The WoW started in windows 3.0, often called Windows for Workgroups.

Since this 16bit memory space is no longer available you could install DOSBox to the system, install Windows 3.1 to DOSBox and run the application from there.

Your other option is to install a 32bit version of Windows 10 as a virtual machine and run it from there.


Virtual Box with Linux and Wine might do it.

Alternatively here is a tutorial using DosBox.

  • You could always just install the old version of Windows in Virtualbox that it was compatible with May 28, 2016 at 21:00

You don't need all of these above "solutions" ...

Just right-click on the icon of your 32bit program In the properties windows select "Compatibility"

Then Run the compatibility troubleshooter to test in which mode your program run best

In my case selecting the mark by "Compatibility Mode" Windows XP SP2 was all what was needed to run the program perfectly!

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