10 things to try when applications won't work with Windows 8
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ByByByBy BrienBrienBrienBrien PoseyPoseyPoseyPosey
JanuaryJanuaryJanuaryJanuary 6,6,6,6, 2013,2013,2013,2013, 5:425:425:425:42 AMAMAMAM PSTPSTPSTPST
Takeaway: If you have problems getting an app to run on
Windows 8, all s not lost. One of these strategies or
workarounds may get the application running.
Windows 8 is more forgiving with regard to application
compatibility than some of the previous versions of Windows
were, but some applications just will not work with it.
Thankfully, you dont always have to accept defeat. Although
there is no silver bullet that guarantees application
compatibility, you can use a number of tricks to improve your
odds of getting a stubborn application to run in Windows 8.
1: Create a virtual machine
I will go ahead and get the last resort step out of the way up
front. Windows 8 includes its own copy of Hyper-V. If you can
t get an application to function in Windows 8, you can enable
Hyper-V and create a virtual machine running a legacy
version of Windows as a way of running the application.
2: Turn off User Account Control
I haven't experienced any User Account Control
(UAC)-related compatibility problems in Windows 8 yet, but I
have run into problems in Windows 7. When I first adopted
Windows 7, there was a particular dictation application that
would not work until I disabled UAC. I have read posts on the
Internet from people who have had similar experiences in
Windows 8, where disabling UAC resolved a compatibility
3: Install .NET Framework 3.5
When you install Windows 8, version 4.5 of the .NET
Framework is installed by default. However, older apps often
require an earlier version of the .NET Framework. If you
receive a .NET Framework-related error, you can go into the
Control Panel, click on Programs, and choose the option to
turn a Windows feature on or off. Windows will display a list of
the various components you can enable or disable. One of the
items on the list is .NET Framework 3.5, which also
includes .NET 3.0 and 2.0. Installing this component will likely
correct the issue that you are experiencing.
4: Check for application patches
One of the first things you should do upon discovering an
application compatibility problem is contact the application
vendor and find out if it has a Windows 8 patch available.
Sometimes, a patch is all you need.
5: Upgrade to the next version
When I made the switch to Windows 8, I discovered that a
video-editing application I use on a regular basis would not
work with Windows 8. Although I might have been able to
resolve the problem using less drastic measures, I ultimately
decided to simply upgrade to the newest version of the
application. Not only was the latest version certified to work
with Windows 8, but it also had some other new features I
wanted to try out.
6: Upgrade your hardware drivers
One of the biggest problems I had when I upgraded to
Windows 8 was that a program I use every day wouldnt run.
The error message I received indicated that Windows 8 did
not support OpenGL. However, OpenGL support is provided
by the video driver, not by the operating system. It turned out
that my problem was caused by an outdated version of AMD
Catalyst. When I upgraded to the latest version, the problem
went away and I was able to run the application.
7: Let Windows troubleshoot the problem
Windows 8 includes a utility called the Program Compatibility
Troubleshooter that can sometimes automatically resolve
compatibility problems. You can run the Program
Compatibility Troubleshooter by right-clicking on the
problematic application and choosing the Troubleshoot
Compatibility command from the shortcut menu.
8: Trick the application into thinking it is running on an earlier
version of Windows
Some applications are hard-coded to look for a specific
version of Windows. In these types of situations, you can
configure Windows 8 to lie to the application about what
version of Windows you re running. Start by running the
Program Compatibility Troubleshooter (as described above).
When you get to the What Problems Do You Notice screen,
choose the option for programs that worked in an earlier
version of Windows. After clicking Next, you will have the
option of telling the utility which version of Windows the
application worked in.
9: Provide the application with extra permissions
Some legacy applications (especially those written for
Windows XP) fail to run due to inadequate permissions. Once
again, the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter can help.
When you get to the What Problems Do You Notice screen,
choose the option related to the program requiring additional
permissions. As an alternative, you could try right-clicking on
the application and choosing the Run As Administrator option
(assuming that you have administrative permissions).
10: Check the Compatibility Center
One last thing you can do is check the Compatibility Center for
information about the application. The Compatibility Center is
a Web site Microsoft uses to provide application compatibility
information for Windows 7 and 8. In some instances, it
provides a link to detailed instructions on what you must do to
make an otherwise-incompatible application work with
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About Brien Posey
Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written
thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of
books on a variety of IT subjects.
See all of Brien's content