A reader has some old software. A set of DVDs featuring information about birds and their bird calls. He writes: “I very much want to study them but they are old, meant to run on Windows 95 or 98. I am running Windows 7 and 10. They won’t open and can’t find a compatibility program. Can you help?”
I had a wildlife encyclopedia like that myself back before the Internet took over. since we’re talking about a 20-year-old piece of software, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to find any way to run in on a current OS.
Depending on the types of files the sounds are stored as, you might be able to click on some files inside the program and play the sounds on their own, but they won’t be in any context for you.
A wildly ambitious person might install an emulator like Virtual Box and then attempt to run Windows 98 inside the emulator. It’s a tricky proposition, especially getting Windows 98 installed. Here’s a link to a YouTube video, if that kind of techno-geekery interests you. But check out my next suggestions first.
Why not go to a great site like All About Birds. This site is maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and offers a downloadable library of bird songs and hundreds of articles about birds.
They’re always looking for bird watchers to help them as well. Plus they offer a bird guide, bird cams and news about birds. Just click the Topics button to see all that they have to offer.
For the most part, trying to retrieve old data like that is way more effort than it is worth unless it’s something irreplaceable. Although it’s kind of sad to think that no one will be going through old software programs the way I enjoyed flipping through old encyclopedias as a kid. Hopefully, someone will come up with a super-simple way to check out these lost treasures.