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How to Enable 16-bit Application Support in Windows 10

Windows 10 includes a range of options for running older programs not designed for the operating system. We previously looked at using tools to troubleshoot application compatibility, which lets you modify a program, to make it think it is installing on a supported version of Windows. Much older applications that pre-date Windows 95 will sometimes require a bit more work. 16-bit applications, in particular, are not natively supported on 64-bit Windows 10 because the operating system lacks a 16-bit subsystem. This can even affect 32-bit applications that utilize a 16-bit installer.

The solution for such a scenario is to run the operating system on an older version of Windows, which might require setting up a virtual machine. If you still utilize a 32-bit version of Windows 10, you can still get the best of both worlds by enabling the 16-bit subsystem. As Microsoft’s future heads toward 64-bit computing, the company is minimizing its support for many of the legacy components in Windows. The best way to add 16-bit support in Windows 10 requires some command line work.

Configure 16-bit Application Support in Windows 10

16 Bit support will require enabling the NTVDM feature. To do so, press Windows key + R then type: optionalfeatures.exe then hit Enter. Expand Legacy Components then check off NTVDM and click OK.

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 6.58.37 PM

The next step is to install the feature through the Command Prompt. Press Windows key + X then click Command Prompt (Admin). At the command prompt, type the following command:

FONDUE.exe /enable-feature:NTVDM

 Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 7.01.34 PM

The add feature wizard for NTVDM will launch. Click Install this feature to complete the installation. Then restart your computer if required.

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 7.03.04 PM

Now 16-bit application support is enabled. You can proceed to install your application as normal.

install app 2

Some applications might require additional permissions. Review our compatibility article for more information about adjusting those settings.

We’re curious about what types of 16-bit applications you still are running. Leave a comment below and let us know. Also, if you’re experiencing any problems with it, head to our new and improved Windows 10 Forums for additional support.

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7 Responses to How to Enable 16-bit Application Support in Windows 10

  1. Mark Katz April 20, 2016 at 7:41 am #

    Great newsgroup – thanks for all info
    I have loads of old 16/32 bit – perhaps the best are “whereis” and “list”. 64 bit equivalents are way behind

    I tried to install NVTDM, but it did not appear in the list when I expanded legacy compeneents – or direct play was listed

    Any clues

    • Andre Da Costa April 20, 2016 at 10:44 pm #

      As noted, the 64 bit version of Windows does not include NTVDM or any support for a 16 bit subsystem. Your next best option would be setting up a 32 bit version in virtual machine.

  2. Jerry Hill April 20, 2016 at 8:32 am #

    My Windows 10 system does not show NTVDM under Legacy Components; only DirectPlay

  3. plantroon April 20, 2016 at 5:53 pm #

    You need 32bit OS for this to work. If you only see Directplay in the list you have a 64 bit OS. And you probably want to leave it that way if you use more than 4 GB of RAM.

  4. JR August 30, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

    Oxford English Dictionary version 1 is a 16-bit program I still want to run. Looking into a virtual machine solution.

  5. Chris Ryan November 5, 2016 at 7:48 pm #

    Its an old version of Q&A which opens in a small “dosbox” and it still does while NTVDM is activated.
    The programe run fine in Win XP, full screen.

  6. Dee December 5, 2016 at 7:41 am #

    Thank you!! It worked perfectly! 🙂

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