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  PC-Net's PC News - August 2002
Don Watkins

I Have Windows XP, What Software Is Compatible?

By Don Watkins



August 2002--With almost all new computers coming with Windows XP installed there's a lot of understandable confusion about what "old" software compatibility.

Generally all Microsoft operating systems have been "downward compatible". That is programs written for DOS 1.0 would run in DOS 2.0, Windows 3.1 programs would run in Windows 95 and so on.

Sometimes software wasn't download compatible. For instance DOS 2.0 introduced the ANSI.SYS driver and programs that used that wouldn't work in DOS 1.x.

The Real World

Of course in the real world that doesn't always turn out to be true. Sometimes programmer's take advantage of an unsupported feature that's dropped in a new version of an operating system. Possibly functionality is changed, like the change in disk structure in Windows 9x (FAT32 vs. FAT16). A program written specifically for the FAT16 file structure simply won't work on a FAT32 system (and vice versa), even in the same version of Windows.

Windows XP

This is true of Windows XP. Generally I've found that most all Windows 9x, ME, NT and Windows 2000 software works fine with Windows XP. For that matter most DOS programs do as well (graphics are an exception in this case). But if you're not familiar with the command line or don't want to learn it you'll probably want to pass.

Perhaps the biggest compatibility problem relates to the type of file system you're using for those programs that go right to the low level of the hard drive. If you're using the NTFS file system in XP (or NT for that matter) programs written for FAT16 and FAT32 in Windows 9x and ME simply won't see the drive.

If you're an XP user don't exclude yourself from the huge library of software available for other versions of Windows, chances are 99.99% of that software will run just fine.

Until next time best in computing.

Recommended XP tweak downloads:

Tweaking Toolbox XP - The complete tool for tweaking XP
AutoPilot - An incredible way to transparently manage CPU and programs for max performance.


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