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PowerSpec PC Systems: Support Tech Notes

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Applicable for all PowerSpec models using Windows XP Home Edition or Windows XP Professional Edition.
Windows XP Compatibility Mode

When installing or starting an older program under Windows XP, if the program fails to run or causes problems with Windows XP, try using "compatibility mode". Compatibility mode allows you to adjust various environmental settings that could cause the program to fail. Keep in mind that Windows XP is based more on Windows NT and not Windows 95 or 98.

To adjust the compatibility mode of a program that has already been installed to your hard drive, locate the executable program in your hard drive folders. Right click on the program (or shortcut link) and select "Properties". Click on the "Compatibility" tab. Click on "Run this program in compatibility mode" and select the environment that the program was designed for. Your choices for compatibility mode include:

  • Windows 95
  • Windows 98
  • Windows NT 4
  • Windows 2000

Other compatibility settings include being able to limit the number of colors to 256, run in 640x480 resolution, and to disable themes. When you are done with the selections, click on Apply, then OK to save the changes. Double click on the program to start. If the Windows XP environment is the problem, then it should run with the settings you have specified.

You can use compatibility mode on programs located on CD-ROM or Floppy disk, but the changes are not retained after you exit the program.

If the program still fails to run or causes problems with Windows XP, you may need to INSTALL the program in compatibility mode. The process is identical to what is described above, but instead of right clicking on the program itself, right click on the Setup or Install program to set compatibility mode options.

One example of a program that this could make a difference with is scanner software and its twain driver. When the program is installed "normally", setup proceeds as if the system was Windows 95 or 98. The scanner setup makes changes and additions to your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files, and loads several device drivers to the hard drive. Windows XP does not load anything from these files during startup. Since the twain software is installed, but the required device driver is "missing", Windows XP reboots as soon as you try to run the twain software to scan. (This is not a good thing. A program crash that causes Windows XP to reboot could cause hard drive corruption and data loss.)

The solution here is to un-install or remove the old software, and then run the Install again using compatibility mode. By selecting "Windows NT 4" as the environment, the scanner software does not modify the CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files, and loads a different set of device drivers. After installing the software this way, the scanner software ran fine, providing twain driver support in Windows XP and various graphics applications.

This does not mean that compatibility mode will solve all your problems, but it is a Windows XP feature that provides you with some backward-compatibility and may allow you to keep using that old software or hardware a little longer. Watch for warnings from the software that may indicate a serious incompatibility with an Operating System other that the one it was designed for. Programs such as Disk Utilities, Backup software and some CD-R burning software could cause serious problems by trying to directly access hardware instead of working through the Windows environment.

You can also run the "Compatibility Wizard" to guide you through this process. To start the wizard click "Start", "Programs", "Accessories", then "Program Compatibility Wizard". A second method to access the wizard is by using the Windows Help and Support screens. Click "Start", "Help and Support", then click on "Problems with your Applications after upgrading? Try the Program Compatibility Wizard." under the "Did you know?" section.

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