Forgive me if this question has an obvious answer that I clearly am not aware of.

So I have a game and others that are from the Windows 95 era, and when I click "Install" I get this message:

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. <

I have Windows 7 32 bit Home Premium. I'm well aware that the 64-bit version is apparently the way to go to play old games.

I've tried going to the Compatibility Mode (Windows XP Service Pack 2) and "Run with 256 colors" but there are too many files on the CD-ROM that I'm not sure how many could be switched compatibility, not like that would help.

I've gotten another Windows 95 game to work (although it let me install the game in the first place which was awesome) by using the d3drm.dll to fix the crashing that happened when running the game.

So my basic question is...are Windows 7 32-bit users doomed to never be able to play old games like that? I don't want to go buy Windows 64-bit or Premium...ain't nobody got time for that.

Is there any way at all to get a patch or anything that would let me play old games without getting Windows 64-bit?


  • 64-bit Windows has no 16-bit support at all. Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 11:27
  • 64-bit OSes won't be able to run 16-bit programs at all (without the use of virtual machine software). You have a better chance of running 16-bit games on a 32-bit OS. Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 5:44
  • Did you actually try DOSBox? It runs many games even when they are not listed as compatible (namely Hollywood High is not listed as incompatible). You can actually run win 3.11 or even win 98 inside DOSBox today. ..... Oh this question is almost a year old, not sure why it popped up as new :P
    – Dorus
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 20:23

3 Answers 3


So my basic question is...are Windows 7 32-bit users doomed to never be able to play old games like that?

This really depends on the game. Windows 95 was Microsoft's first 32-bit operating system, but designed to give a lot of compatibility to let enable earlier 16-bit software from MS-DOS and earlier versions of Windows to still run. Some games of this time were built completely on the 32-bit architecture, while some use those compatibility features or other libraries of the time (such as WinG) that are no longer supported by modern versions of Windows.

For DOS games, your best bet is the DOSBox emulator, which is now the de-facto standard for running DOS games.

For anything else that might rely on Windows 3.1 compatibility layers or older libraries, things get trickier. If you have a way to acquire the old operating system, you might have some success using a VM such as VirtualBox, installing the OS, the game and any additional software and running the game that way. This would probably be your best bet for a generic solution running multiple games of this type.

For some games, you might get lucky. In some cases fans or modders have figured out ways to get specific games running on more modern systems. If there's only a handful of games you're trying to run, you may get more helpful answers by asking this question for each game you are attempting to play.

  • Yeah my game (My little sister want's to play Hollywood High...some barely known game) it was released in 1996, it says it needs either Win 3.1 or Win95 and is 16-bit (although it has an entire extra folder titled WNET32 with another Setup.exe) It had worked on our Windows95 at the time and I never used it in DOS. I guess i'll have to get OS WIN95 or something because DOSbox doesn't support it.
    – Tosco
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 18:31

OK, you want to run 20 year old games, best thing to do is get a 20 year old operating system. Run it in a virtual machine, and you're good to go.
And no, you won't be able to run 16 bit games on a 64 bit Windows if they don't run on a 32 bit Windows. I seriously doubt that that game that doesn't work is a Windows 95 title, it probably is a DOS or Windows 3 title. There have simply been too many API changes to guarantee backwards compatibility with something that old.
Or do you expect to be able to put an engine from a 1990 model Ford Escort in a 2010 model Ford Crown Vic and it'll just work?

  • 1
    While this technically falls under the VM approach you recommend, it might be worth mentioning many old games can be run on modern Windows using DOSbox.
    – eidylon
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 8:50
  • 5
    Your engine analogy is terrible.
    – Nick T
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 9:01
  • alright chill man.
    – Tosco
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 18:03

There are many games that run fine on 64-bit, only that the installer is limited to 16/32 bit.

I found a great article that explained the problem:


Basically, I could copy the contents of the CD to a local folder, copy in the correct 32 bit installer (the article explains how to find which installer is needed, and links to the correct installer). Once the installer was in the correct location I could run it, install the game and then change some registry details to point to my real CD drive (as it would often use the temp directory).

I recently used this method to install Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine on Windows 8 / 64-bit. I played the game from start to finish.

Note that copying into a temp directory may not always work. You may need to create a new image of the disk containing the installer in the correct location.

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