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XP Programs in 7


Upgrading from XP is a big concern for a lot of readers like Charles. He writes:

“Hi, like a lot of people I am still using Windows XP and like it.  What I am concerned about is, whether I switch to Ubuntu or get a new computer running Windows 7, all of my programs are, as far as I understand, XP programs. Will I still be able to use them if I switch to Windows 7? This if of great concern to me so any information you can give would be greatly appreciated.”

Hi, Charles.  Thanks for the great question!


The short answer to your question is that many of your XP programs should be able to run on a Windows 7 computer with no problem.  It is, after all, the same operating system, just with different flavors.  This little trick is called “backward compatibility”.  The problem with it is that it only goes so far, so there are some that won’t.  But for many of these programs, you can use COMPATIBILITY MODE.  In order to do this, right-click on the program, and click TROUBLESHOOT COMPATIBILITY.


This will take you through the compatibility troubleshooter, and allow you to choose compatibility mode for XP.  Please note that this will NOT work for all programs.  There are just some XP programs that won’t work in 7.  I will tell you, though, that when I switched from XP to Vista and then Vista to 7, I rarely had a problem running XP programs in either of the updated systems. 

Ubuntu is a different story.  Your XP programs won’t run in Ubuntu, period.  This would be a little like trying to play a PS3 game in an Xbox 360.  There are a number of programs that are available for Ubuntu, including Firefox and Libreoffice.  I found a list here:, but don’t ever expect to be able to run Microsoft programs like Office in Ubuntu.  Since it competes with Windows, I don’t think that Microsoft will ever have that compatibility. 

Having said all of that, I would recommend upgrading to 8 or waiting for 10 at this point instead of upgrading to 7.  That will extend the life of your OS beyond the end of support for 7.  Windows 8 has compatibility mode as well.

I hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer

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5 Responses to “XP Programs in 7”

  1. Chauncey R. Black says:

    What should Charles do to continue using those programs that he already has, especially those for which no upgrades are available, like multitudes of games?

    • Eugene ReFalco says:

      You are correct, but only for a 32 bit windows 7. I have a 64 bit, and almost all XP programs do not work on it.

  2. Randal says:

    Hi, guys. Thanks for the great comment.

    Eugene, i’d be interested to know what problem you’re having with XP programs. Frankly, most of the XP programs that i regularly used ran flawlessly on 7 without the compatibility mode. Granted, there weren’t that many… And i was running X64.

    Chauncey, unfortunately, there will come a time when they simply don’t work. But that time shouldn’t be yet for XP programs. They’re still pretty recent. I used to have a point-and-click game that i loved for 98 based on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. I absolutely mourned when XP came around and i could no longer play it. 98 to XP is a much larger jump technologically than XP to 7, though.

    Randal Schaffer

  3. suz says:

    Win7 Ultimate has XP Mode. It gives you a virtual drive to install XP. XP runs exactly as it did when it was the only OS on the machine. I run both OSes simultaneously. It’s the perfect solution for me and maybe for you, too.

  4. Gordon says:

    FWIW, I upgraded from W98 to W2K to W7HPx64, and carried all my legacy apps with me. I install everything as Admin>All Users, and have had to abandon only one app, a 16-bit Eudora email client :(

    I have never had to use “Compatibility”. I do not understand why this Compatibility thing is needed!

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