Copying old programs to run under Windows 7 XP Mode


  • I just upgraded my PC from Windows Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional in order to run some older applications that won't run under Windows 7 and one that won't run under DOSBOX. However, I can't find any documentation on where I need to locate each program and their appropriate subdirectories in order for them to run. This ommission is most surprising to me since the whole idea of having XP Mode is to be able to run older programs -- just tell me how!  The programs in question are just EXE files, often with a configuration file to tell them which directories to read from and work in. Some just default to whatever directory you run them from.

    I have many of these programs already on my PC and can execute them by clicking on the EXE file in Windows Explorer in XP Mode. The programs open up satisfactorily but can't go anywhere because they all think they're in the C:\ directory rather than the one they were executed from. XP Mode seems to think that everything must be in what seems to be a virtual C:\ root directory and forgets about the directory I started the program from. Under the "real" XP system, you could take care of this by changing the directory settings under Properties. However, XP Mode doesn't have that feature.

    I'd appreciate it if anyone could pointing me to some documentation on how to copy these files to a location where XP Mode can run them properly or tell XP Mode what default directory to run them from. The files don't need to be "installed" with an installation program (if they ever had one!) -- they are already in a form that runs quite satisfactorily on another PC that has native XP.



    Sunday, April 18, 2010 2:14 AM

All replies

  • I don't think that Windows XP (actual or virtual) has a general setting that tells it where programs are.

    What do you see that indicates that programs think they're in the C:\ root directory?

    Try creating a shortcut to each program, and configure the shortcut properties to start in the desired directory.

    Boulder Computer Maven
    Microsoft Most Valuable Professional
    Sunday, April 18, 2010 5:28 AM
  • What makes me say the programs think they're in the C:\ root directory? Because the programs list out C:\ as the directory when I do a file listing to find the file I want the program to load. Whether it's the actual C:\ root directory or a virtual C:\ root directory I don't know.

    I tried creating a shortcut to a couple of the programs and then was able to check "Properties" panel and see what it said about the the directory the program is running from and the working directory. The program location directory has a name like \\tsclient\C\program_path. It seems that "C\program_path" is the XP Mode representation of "C:\program_path", which is where my program is located. That's OK since whatever the location directory means, the program does actually run when I click on the shortcut.

    Under the Properties panel, the working directory has the same name as the program location directory:  \\tsclient\C\program_path. When I change this location to the explicit location of the program's data files or configuration files, i.e., ""C:\program_path", the program still seems to think it's supposed to be looking in the C:\ root directory. So the strange pathname works for XP to figure out where to run the program from, but the strage pathname doesn't work to tell the program where to find the files it's supposed to be working with. It seems that having a properties panel doesn't help move me forward very much.

    My original question still stands: Is there any documentation on how a user is supposed to actually make use of XP Mode for older programs that are already executables? I don't think that's asking a lot. As far as me making productive use of my time, it sure would be a big help.

    Monday, April 19, 2010 7:28 AM
  • Hello clowesga,

    After you have installed any program in Virtual Windows XP, you will notice that there will now be a shortcut to it also in the Windows 7 Start Menu. NOTE: Double clicking on the shortcut in the Windows 7 Start Menu will open and run the program in Windows XP Mode. You can now move or copy this Windows XP Mode program shortcut where you like in Windows 7 for easy use.

    Note that only applications installed for ALL USERS in the Virtual XP environment will show up under Windows 7 start menu. If your application does not show up, try copying/moving the required items for your application from c:\documents and settings\XPMUser\startmenu\programs to c:\documents and settings\all users\startmenu\programs (in the XP environment). It should now show up for you.

    Please reply back and let us know if you still need assistance or if you are able to see your XP programs in your Windows 7 environment.


    Microsoft Answers Support Engineer
    Visit our Microsoft Answers Feedback Forum and let us know what you think
    Sunday, April 25, 2010 1:48 PM
  • Thanks for responding, Marilyn.

    I'm afraid you're missing the point I'm trying to make: These are NOT programs that have installation wizards. They are programs that pre-date that feature. I have the .EXE and .COM files and simply want to run them under XP Mode because they won't run under Windows 7. I thought I had made that clear, like my request for documentation -- which I am now beginning to suspect does not exist.

    Here's my situation: I have the programs already on my hard drive from before I upgraded to Windows Porfessional so I caould access XP Mode. I can run most of the programs, not very satisfactorily, under DOSBOX, and so I wanted to get them to run better (I had hoped) under XP Mode, but I'm not having much luck (which is why I've been asking about documentation). I can go into XP Mode, I can use Windows Explorer to get to the drive where the programs are, and I can click on the programs to run them, either directly or via a shortcut. BUT the programs don't run very far because they can't find the subdirectories where the configuration files and other program components are. That's why I explained about the program location directory having a name like \\tsclient\C\program_path in the Properties panel when I create a shortcut. With a directory path like that, the old programs apparently can't find their way to the directory where the program is running.

    I'd appreciate any suggestions you could provide. Your response came at an opportune time snce I was just about to post my questions in the Tech Help area. I am getting rather frustrated at not being able to get any useful documentation on setting up old programs in XP Mode. If there isn't any, please say so.



    Monday, April 26, 2010 8:26 AM
  • I take the lack of response to mean there is no helpful documentation on setting up old programs in XP Mode. It also appears that no one has ever tried to run these old programs under XP Mode when they're in a folder on a Windows 7 drive rather than on the XP Mode drive. At this point, then, my upgrade to XP Professsional and subsequent installation of XP Mode has been a waste of money and an even greater waste of time in trying to get old programs to run when I have a Windows 7 operating system. The few programs I have figured out how to run under XP Mode run very slowly and if I installed an anti-virus programs -- which I haven't done yet, since I am at the point of abandoning XP Mode -- these programs would run unacceptably slowly. Also, the files that I create with old programs under XP Mode for access by other programs under Windows 7 are invisible to Windows 7 unless I have XP Mode running or unless I copy them from the XP Mode drive to a Windows 7 folder after I exit the old program. Quite frankly, I can't see much value in XP Mode.  



    Monday, May 10, 2010 6:58 AM
  • George, you appear to be confused as to what XP mode is.

    XP mode is just a Virtual machine with some add-on's

    A VM is just like a second computer, you treat it as such.

    Older programs used .inf files to hold program configs. (where to look for data and so on)

    If you put the files on the XP box and use a shortcut in the windows 7 all users folder then you should see the shortcuts on the 7 start menu.

    But understand a VM is limited in many ways and the PC you installed it on limits the performance of the VM.


    Monday, May 10, 2010 4:29 PM
  • I have exactly the same problem trying to run legacy programs located on network drives. It runs the exe files fine, but it can't find the data located on the same drive in the same directory. I added code to show the current directory and it shows the local virtual hard drive even though I hard code the paths and default directorys in the exe. Am I missing something simple, or am I expecting too much?
    Friday, May 21, 2010 5:29 PM
  • Many older programs which are not windows compliant will not function just by running the .exe

    Will knowing what you are doing we can guess.

    I do know that most my portable apps run just fine on windows 7 once I turned down the UAC

    Saturday, May 22, 2010 11:20 PM