I am trying to install the 16-bit game, "NBA Live 98" on my parents' desktop computer, but I got a message that says, word for word:

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.

Problem is, this computer game is obviously out of date and no longer supported.

Note: The desktop has Home Premium, so XP Mode and Program Compatibility Mode are out of the question. Also, my parents are not willing to downgrade their computer to XP (they discarded the OS CD years ago), and my backup desktop doesn't have a single administrator (everyone's limited). Finally, my laptop charger is broken, so I can't use my Dell Vista.

  • Sounds like Compatibility mode is probably going to be the only thing that works for you.
    – Frank
    Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 4:01
  • I agree that this doesn't look like it would be resolved by DOSBox, one method I used recently for running old Windows games was to install an older version of Windows in a virtual machine and run the game that way, but this obviously depends on having an older version of Windows to hand...
    – kalina
    Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 9:22
  • Related: Win3mu - an open source Windows 3.0 emulator. It includes an 8086 CPU emulation that loads 16-bit Windows executables and maps API calls onto the modern 32 or 64-bit Windows API. Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 11:02

2 Answers 2


A 64-bit operating system won't be able to run a 16-bit program unless you run the program through an emulator or a virtual machine. For more info, see these Super User posts:

This question on Arqade: How to get old 16-bit Windows games to work on 64-bit Windows?, is similar to yours, but the solutions in the answers won't help since you can't run Windows XP mode in Windows 7 Home Basic / Premium.

A solution, from this post in Super User:

Use an emulator like DOSBox for 16-bit DOS games...

Since NBA Live 98 doesn't seem to be a DOS game, you might want to try the emulator, Win3mu.

Win3mu is a Windows 3.0 emulator. It includes an 8086 CPU emulation that loads 16-bit Windows executables and maps API calls onto the modern 32 or 64-bit Windows API.

The website for Win3mu only offers a source code download. An installable build for Win3mu can be downloaded from https://github.com/Mwyann/win3mu/releases.

Another alternative is to use a Virtual Machine (VM). A VM will allow you to run a 32-bit OS within 64-bit Windows 7. A VM software you might want to try is VirtualBox, which you can use to run Windows 7 32-bit, Windows XP 32-bit, or an even older Windows OS within Windows 7 Home Basic / Premium.

Other alternatives to VirtualBox (thanks to pixel for mentioning) are: VMWare Player and Windows Virtual PC (Windows 7 Home Basic / Premium are also supported host operating systems).

  • There are other alternatives to VirtualBox such as VMWare Player and the legacy versions of Microsoft Virtual PC ("XP Mode" before it was turned into a built in function in Windows 7)
    – kalina
    Commented Nov 2, 2012 at 16:04
  • NBA Live 98 PC version had 3dfx Glide support which likely indicates it ran on Windows 98 or Windows 95. However, if you run one of those in a VM you won't get any hardware video acceleration.
    – spudone
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 17:54

The best thing to do is to get a 32-bit Operating System. This would most likely make the game compatible. I have tested this by running Zork on my 32-bit and 64-bit partitions. You can make two separate partitions.

However, if you are not in a position to do this, you can make a Virtual Machine (VM) and put in a 32-bit operating system (does not matter which, does not matter what OS). However, if you are not the 'nerdy' type of person that's willing to be frustrated, this is probably not the option for you.

Your third and final option is to use a DOS emulator, such as DOSBox, or one in a virtual machine (pure DOS). This is the best option since your game since to be for 16-bit operating systems, and pure DOS is 16-bit.

Edit: If you have a copy of Windows 95, 98, or ME, this will be fine as well since these versions only have a 32-bit version.

  • Why are you suggesting they pirate Windows? This isn't a solution. The game in question is a 16-bit Windows application, likely released to support Windows 95, Windows 98, and later supported Windows ME.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Nov 2, 2012 at 15:26
  • 1
    Suggesting piracy should not be encouraged, even a little.
    – Frank
    Commented Nov 2, 2012 at 22:52
  • I agree, but that is one choice, since they are pirating a 32-bit version, which is compatible with 16-bit games. However, I have removed it since pirating is frowned upon. I did not think of that when I wrote the answer.
    – user28379
    Commented Nov 2, 2012 at 23:01
  • @Jeffrey Lin I have no idea how to download or install an operating system, let alone a virtual machine. This basketball video game was a childhood favorite of mine.
    – Tommy
    Commented Nov 2, 2012 at 23:05

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