File is not compatible with the version of Windows you're running – Super User

The best answers to the question “File is not compatible with the version of Windows you're running” in the category Super User.

QUESTION:

I have a really old installer (legacy app) that we are trying to get running on a Windows 7 64 bit os.

Previously it has only been installed on Windows XP 32 bit. I get the following error when I try to run it:

The version of this file is not compatible with the version of Windows 
you're running. Check your computer's system information to see whether 
you need an x86 (32-bit) or x64 (64-bit) version of the program, and then 
contact the software publisher.

Contacting the software publisher is not an option (software is super old).

Is there a way to get this to work? Some sort of compatibility mode?

The only thing I have heard of that will work is a Virtual XP on the Win 7 box. The problem is that this software is a part of a whole software set. I would have to put all of the pieces on the Virtual XP or none at all.

Before I go down the road of putting it all on the virtual xp I would like to know that there is no way to get it all on the Win 7 os.

ANSWER:

With legacy installers you really just have to fiddle around with the settings. Try setting compatibility mode to Windows XP SP 3 and Set run as administrator.

Some legacy installers can be “unzipped”. Meaning some zip utilities can actually unzip the files the program is supposed to install. Now I don’t recommend it, but you could try to manually move the files yourself.

ANSWER:

You say it is a really old installer, is it a 16-bit application? All 16-bit application support was dropped from Windows 7 x64 – It will not run, at all. You will need to use an emulator or move back to 32-bit Windows. XP mode in Windows 7 might be an easy solution to get this application up and running seamlessly.

ANSWER:

I have had the exact same error message for a corrupt installer.

An installer that was created for Windows 7 (32bit/64bit) in the first place, got corrupt while being transferred via email, showing this message (on Windows 7 64bit). The non-corrupt file installed fine.

So, I suggest you try the installer on a Win XP machine before trying more technical operations.

If the installer is indeed corrupt, then you will have to find a backup or get it somewhere else.

ANSWER:

If running the installer in compatibility mode with UAC turned off (registry change) doesn’t work, the next step is to try a manual install. This is where you use file comparison techniques to find what the installer actually does to your computer and mirroring that to your windows 7 machine. If you’ve never done this before, I wouldn’t recommend it because you can run into a lot of problems trying to get everything working. Which I know from experience is a real pain to get everything.

The better option is to download and enable XP mode in windows 7 (doesn’t work with win 7 home or starter). This would at least give you desktop shortcuts that launch the VM on demand. You can find it here.