Can I use a Win 3.1 Program in Win XP?

  Ben Avery 17:33 09 Aug 2003


I have been asked if it is possible to run a program designed in Windows 3.1 by some chap who is not around anymore, in Windows XP?

The guy who needs to do this is currently working from 2 PC's each running one of the above OS's. He'd ideally like to only use his laptop running Windows XP and still be able to run the program which was designed all those years ago in Windows 3.1.

Is this possible?


  pepe 17:35 09 Aug 2003

I'm sure the experts here will correct me if I'm wrong but I would say it's not possible.

  powerless 17:49 09 Aug 2003

Try it then you'll know.

  jazzypop 17:50 09 Aug 2003

If you right-click an exe file in XP, and choose the Compatibility tab, you will see that the oldest OS supported is W95. Even that is not guaranteed, because of the many ways in which W95 programs could be written in terms of hardware access.

All of the above would indicate that W3.1 will not work. However, it will cause no harm to try it - it may take a little experimentation with the options on the compatibility tab, but you may be lucky.

Give it a go and see what happens, but do not hold your breath.

  Diemmess 18:34 09 Aug 2003

No harm to try, but while XP has rejected using MSDOS functions,.... Windows 3.1 hid the presence of MSDOS yet was absolutely dependant on it.

  Stuartli 18:40 09 Aug 2003

I'm reading a book on XP which states that Win95 and earlier versions, including 3x and NT 3x, cannot be directly upgraded to XP.

It adds that Win XP will install on these computerz, but it installs itself in a different folder; this means that all settings have to be reconfigured and all software reinstalled.

Presmably the final section holds the clue...

  misters 18:46 09 Aug 2003

Can i just add to this thread by asking will a win/98se program run on XP.
Sorry if i take the queery away from Ben A.

  Lú-tzé 19:48 09 Aug 2003

Ben Avery - an option may to dual-boot with win 3.1 (I have not seen XP dual booted with it, but have seen 9x machines with that and DOS).

misters - many Win98 progs will run on XP; but don't run system utilities (Norton / reg cleaners etc) unless they specifically say they run on XP.

  Patr100 22:12 09 Aug 2003

Strictly speaking Win 3.1 was a GUI (Graphical User Interface) program which sat on top of DOS, not an operating system - Win 95 being the first full windows OS. It will probably not install, but as said, no harm in trying.

  Newuser38 22:15 09 Aug 2003

This might give a lead to dual boot with 3.1 click here I never got it to wpork with XP mainly because 3.1 did not like the CD/RW drive. But I think some one in the thread did it with a laptop.

  Ben Avery 23:41 09 Aug 2003

Comments have been as suspected and will maybe advise on the test-it-out idea. I think it's a work laptop so the dual boot option may be out of the question.

You'd think somebody could invent a simple program which will allow such old-style programs to run. You have the command prompt for DOS so why not invent a simple command program to open a window with 3.1 functionality?!

I ask WAY too much! Thank you again.


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