How-To

How to Enable 16-bit Application Support in Windows 10

If you’re running Windows 10 and still need to run legacy 16-bit programs, getting them to work correctly takes a bit of work. Here’s our guide on how to do it.

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 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.


74 Comments

74 Comments

  1. 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

    • 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.

      • Kashif  

        but if you want to run 16 bit dos applications in 64-bit windows then you can use DOSBOX or vDOS.

        • Chuck S  

          I installed vDOS but cannot change directories to the 16 bit DOS program; it says the directory does not exist. I have a 16 bit version of SkyGlobe, the old astronomy software and would like to run it on Windows 10. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
          ~~~ Chuck S

          • Perhaps you need to use the short 8.3 version of the directory name.
            The DIR /X command will show you the short names.

        • vDOS specifically told me it couldn’t run my 16-bit game because it was 16-bit (on my 64-bit Win10 computer). It’s starting to sound like I’m outta luck for these old games… which would be a shame.

    • Quinten Jungblut  

      NVTDM, where is it. I can’t find it. Only directplay is there.

    • MANDON  

      Hi, I’m using two Dbase IV programs to compile 32 bits with 16-bit executions. It works properly on a windows 10 pro 32 bit installed version 1903. I found that on a direct installation of windows 10 the mouse does not work in my Dbase IV applications while on a preinstalled windows 7 pro 32 bit evolved windows 10 the mouse works. There must be something missing that I did not know how to discover. Does anyone know how to install a 32-bit Windows XP compatibility knowing that you need to install a minimum version of your system. I am not talking about a virtual machine but compatibility modes in the properties of the executable 16/32 bits.

    • Angel Washington  

      Im downloading every known complier new and old so i can cross compile and emulate for an extention of project pegasus access to help out time travellers like John Titor and to help filling up the landfill or how the phoenix az metropolitan water supply was poisioned because of computer chips the less in the ground water the more we reuse the healthier we remain. Im trying to cross complie any program with any of the others with anyone of them…so qbasic source can be translated into java or c or xml or chipmunk basic on mac 8.1. update mac os 68k to go online…or send a winpsk file as a voicemail to an aprs ham radio repeater with an old tape deck…or even to send commands to a skynet like computer in orbit a special interupt that stops a loop mid loop without exiting the program.

  2. Jerry Hill  

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

  3. plantroon  

    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  

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

  5. Chris Ryan  

    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.

    • Thomas Vosdoganes  

      do you still remember how you installed this? Did you use the original disks or pull it off an old machine? I am going through this right now trying to get q and a in a newer computer.

  6. Dee  

    Thank you!! It worked perfectly! :)

  7. NM  

    We don’t need 64 bit OS’s. It serves no purpose. Only the Military needs it. 16 and 32 bit are perfect for us. Over developed OS’s are a burden to us. Useless. They’ve hit the wall.

    • AO  

      Because nobody ever uses more than 4 GB of RAM.. Google Chrome alone does definitely not use multiple gigabytes of RAM, when you have more than a handful of tabs open, not to speak of modern games..

    • Cheese  

      I routinely do things on my 64 bit machine that a 32 bit machine can’t. How is having more capability hitting a wall?

    • Who is “we”. Clearly not gamers, or people that want to experiment with running Linux in a virtual machine. It must be little old ladies who just use the software that came pre-installed on their PC and never try anything new.

      Also totally bizarre that you should pick the military as the only ones who need 64 bit OSs. What about scientists in general or the weather service.

    • It’s true. We don’t need 64-bit OS. And we have never asked for it.

      • Lostinlodos  

        “We” is debatable. Microsoft lost me over the 64 jump without 16 bit support. NTVDM ran fine on 7 64. No 16 bit support, official or otherwise, and the rolling broken updates: I jumped to Mac.
        I make regular use of 28gb of ram on a 32gig system. And appreciate the much higher ceiling!
        I run 16 bit windows apps with a wine bottle.
        And yes, Apple is pulling the same thing now by cutting 32-bit support.
        There’s one difference, MacOS is an open system! From the kernel to the windowing system. Everything is well documented.
        Principally it’s very easy to update an app to 64 using any of dozens of toolkits, including official ones. So little is left behind.
        Then. Two options exist that I’m aware of: MacApp+, which bottles 32-bit apps for use in 64 bit MacOS much like wine, and MAConMAC. I use that one, a mini VM kit that runs PPC or 32 bit Mac apps.
        My point: I found my solution to 16 bit windows apps. Run them on a Mac.

  8. Stephen  

    I’m going to attempt to run 16 bit DOS program Orcad, schematic capture software in Win10/64bit. I’ve run it in command prompts on many WinXP machines. Don’t think I ever ran it in Win7 on a 32 bit machine. I may choose to do that if this does not work.

  9. Stephen  

    Oops. Didn’t read the comments or try it before commenting. No NTDVM is not available. Boo!

  10. John Molina  

    “Lords of the Realm 2”, one of my favorite strategy/economy bases games – precursor to AoE and Stronghold that still holds it weight.
    I’ve been getting my boy into these older games and am pleased that he appreciates and enjoys them

    • Oh wow…. Yeah, I still play stronghold personally however, I had forgotten about Lord of the Realm. Wow, takes me back!

  11. John Molina  

    HELP

    I LOVE THIS WALK THROUGH! VERY HELPFUL!

    I understand that my 64-bit OS won’t give me the NTVDM option and I don’t want to reinstall my OS

    I am interested in the option of running a 32bit in virtual machine…. but I need a awesome-hold-my-hand-walk-through

    Can someone please offer me some help with this?

  12. Jose  

    I tried this method (add feature wizard for NTVDM ). It worked on one of my PC. But didn’t work on another one. The message was “the component store has been corrupted”. Anyone can help ?

    Thanks

  13. Jose  

    My system is 32 bit.

  14. Hosein  

    I just wanted to install mkke and I was given an error of 16 bit not supported

  15. Dr.s.raghunathan  

    For quite some time i am searching to run my clipper exe programs. I have windows 10 64 bit but it has x86 32 bit run applications too. If any one help on this i will be much much thankful to him to resolve my unanswered quest

    • DangerX69  

      its because 64 bit supports both 64 and 32 bit applications and 32 bit support both 32 and 16 bit application

  16. kevin go  

    Windows Draw 6 Premier Edition Print Studio or Micrografx Draw 6
    I like this program, which I know is now part of the Coral draw program

    But I don’t like coral draw, I just want this program, If I use a x86 version of any windows it will most likely work (worked in win 7)
    And as home doesn’t have above app.

    Leaving me with 2 choices a virtual os x 86, ie vista or set up an old system using the vista disc on the shelve.
    It’s a shame you cannot alter the install so it will work with a x 64 bit OS.
    It is a straight forward program that gives superb results.

  17. kevin go  

    https://sourceforge.net/projects/nxvdm/

    can be downloaded from here, indicating it will work on 64 bit os

    NTVDM64

  18. Lostinlodos  

    Castle of the winds. One of my all time favourite games. A 16 bit Win 3.x game

  19. NM  

    “Upgrading” at this point is stupid. MS has hit the wall. An upgrade that LOSES usability makes absolutely no sense AT ALL.
    The answer is STOP SUNSETTING.
    Leave us alone. We paid MS money to be where we are.
    GO AWAY NOW.

    • Brian Gregory  

      You must have chosen to upgrade to a 64 bit PC with a 64 bit OS. Your PC didn’t suddenly do it all by itself did it?

  20. Ira  

    I want to run the version of Tetris Microsoft did. No other version has the same timing.

  21. A.B.  

    I switched over to a primary WinXP Pro with a secondary Ubuntu after making the mistake of trying to use Win 8 64 Pro and finding I could no longer use my old, old, Quickbooks 16-bit. The Linux works for other most things I do (WINE didn’t help me) , but I’d still like to have the option of buying a new Windows machine someday that will run what I need. This page could be the helpful tip I need. Thanks.

  22. Ira Goldberg  

    Tetris for Windows supplied by Mcrosot

  23. Lostinlodos  

    Tetris can be found by searching the msdn threads. It’s a 32 bit app now. Someone updated the installer from a 16 bit cab system to a modern msi using windows installer. It works, I have it.
    I was trying to find someone who extracted ntvdm from 32 10 so I could use it on 64. I may give in and buy a copy of 32 10 to get this all up and running

  24. Aires  

    Tanxx
    I had many apps which was 16 bit.

  25. Portugal  

    Much Helpfull, still using a 16 bit program, to design kitchens, TeoWin. :)

    Thanks a lot.

  26. Mike  

    I still run home-made 16-bit accounting and database programs written in Fortran under DOS.

    • KGHN  

      My homemade 16-bit accounting and database program for joint personal, family, and my partnerships is FoxPro 2.6 for DOS. My biggest problem with workarounds is printer support. I’m running Win7-32 now, but End of Life is scheduled for January 2020. Too soon.

  27. Htk  

    The problem to adapt “old” programs to modern environment,
    are the datas which have been generated with those old programs.
    I am working as a freelance engineer and have to archive all my project
    datas for at least 10 years forced by law. So how to manage that, if you
    are able to backup the datas but could never run the old software again?
    There are examples: Wsketch a 2D CAD tool, SolidWorks a 3D CAD program
    even in the newer versions is not fully compatibel to old versions
    back more than 5 years. Emails under Outlook express, its a nightmare
    to transfer the files to newer programs like thunderbird.
    Only 20% of the mails could be transfered due to obvious storage
    problems of thunderbird. Could imagine how many mails are collected after 10years?

    I do not understand why software companies fail to support the duty of data
    transfer and data merging.

  28. tellfile  

    16 bit Visual Dbase has been my life for 30 years. Out of hobby, I use it in developing programs for successfully playing the pick 4 lottery games. It can do just about anything imaginable in showing number behavior over thousands of days. Naturally I didn’t ever want to lose an engine like that. When someone throws out an old 32 bit Windows machine that still works, I add it to my collection so that hopefully I’ll never run out of computer that can run Dbase. Will try your methods on a 64 bit machine with fingers crossed, Thanks!

  29. David Pritchard  

    Old 16-bit dictionaries, including Collins English dictionary & thesaurus, and a 3-in-1 Oxford French, German and Spanish dictionary. And maybe some old games.

  30. Jose Felix  

    I used to work an old signmaking software Casmate on windows XP (SP 3).
    The old PC is gone. I purchased a DELL Optiplex with Windows XP (SP3) installed but every time I try to install Casmate it restart and send a massage of error.

  31. Colin Harland  

    I have a different reason. In my frivolous youth (45+ now 77) I wrote in turbo c/c++ and compiled on a 16bit computer. (pre 1990). I still dable with the progs on a 32bit machine with success. However I would like to upgrade to a 64bit,BUT, cannot run or compile my source code. I’ve purchased a few compilers but to no avail. They either will not compile or run. Anybody have any ideas..thanks

  32. Jennevelyn79  

    I was trying to run Oregon Trail II from about 1995. If I change my system to run the 16 bit like mentioned above, do I have to change something back to run my computer as usual? How? lol. I don’t want to do something I can’t undo.

  33. Bill Wood  

    Trying to set up Work I for my wife. She has suggested that I dig the Commodore 64 out of storage as an easier solution.

  34. I’m a professional science-fiction writer, and I still run WordStar for DOS — http://sfwriter.com/wordstar.htm — and do it on 64-bit Windows using the wonderful vDosPlus emulator: http://sfwriter.com/ws-vdos.htm

  35. Colin  

    I’m 77 Y\O, and have been using turbo C/C++ for the last 25years to write and evaluate the “impossible sequencer for random numbers”.
    As the Turbo c\c++ is a legacy prog, and computers are now 64 bit, I’ve now got another “with your help” problem to solve..

  36. pixelherodev  

    I’m running some old 16-bit games :D

    I received two game discs years back, which have collections of games ranging from >500 different solitaires to bullet hells to sports games to brick breaker and everything in between.

  37. Phil  

    I haven’t tried this solution as yet. I have an AutoCAD Autodesk program that was installed on a 2006 Dell laptop with Windows XP. I only kept that laptop for the use of the AutoCAD, but that laptop crashed, so now I want to load it on my other laptop with Windows 10. Hopefully I can make it work.

  38. Gopal Miglani  

    My Windows 10 machine shuts down randomly. Once during shutdown I caught this message: “TOO MANY OTHER FILES ARE CURRENTLY IN USE BY 16-BIT PROGRAMS. QUIT ONE OR MORE 16-BIT PROGRAMS OR INCREASE THE VALUE OF THE FILES COMMAND IN YOUR CONFIG”

    I cant figure out what 16-Bit programs may be installed or how to increase the value of the files command. If you can help please email me. I’m quite frustrated by this. The shutdown happens more frequently if I try to start too many programs too soon after boot-up. Or, if I try to use Acronis backup and iTunes sync at the same time.

  39. Colin Harland  

    Can I please ask if the following action is capable in the 16bit\64bit fiasco.
    If I remove the HD from my defunct computer and place it in my new 64 win10 computer,
    and using a bootable flashdrive, restart my 64bit with a 32bit win10 OS. I would then
    access my old HD and run the win95 16bit progs I have personnaly written and create the data
    and save it in Excell. Then later start the 64bit in 64bit win10 mode and access the data on the old HD
    for new calculations.
    Every time I ask this question I am given the old “32bit 64bit better ” answer.
    This doesn’t account for the fact that I need my data in a certain way. Thanks Colin

  40. Well, I was HOPING to run a few of my kids’ old 16-bit DOS games from the ’90s. Unfortunately, when I open the optional features on my Win10 Home 64-bit PC, I see the Direct Play listing but no NTVDM listed. Is there any hope for these orphaned games?

    • John Roads  

      You can install DOSBox to play old DOS games. There’s a 32-bit installer for 64-bit Windows 10. You’ll need to read a bit to learn how to set it up and configure to play games, but it’s pretty easy. I play Commander Keen, Cosmo, the original Prince of Persia, Leisure Suite Larry, and more.

      https://www.dosbox.com/download.php?main=1

  41. Colin Harland  

    I have tried (most succesfully) to run the 16bit progs in a 32 bit machine. However what I want is to compile the 16bit as a 32bit. This would then allow me to run in a 64 machine. I want to purchase a 64bit, but until I can compile my 16bit source code, I’ll wait. The reason is that I am constantly changing the prog to show the data in a different way. Crazy, maybe, but it keeps me off the street where I could get into trouble. :-)…cheers CRH

  42. Nancy  

    I use DRAW.EXE (16 bit) for my business / bread & butter.
    It came with the Lexmark Printer I had years ago.
    It would cost over $500 to buy a Win 10 64 bit program (Corel Draw) to replace it.
    I just don’t have that kind of money.

  43. Phil Schroeder  

    “German for everyone” It has a 32 bit version, but uses a 16 bit loader.

  44. Joe  

    I’ve been using a DOS Automotive software program since 1987, so I’m hoping I won’t have problems with my Windows 10 32 bit drive, currently I’m using Windows 7 but I know sometimes there’s always problems.

  45. Chris Hart  

    Thank you so much for the direction! I haven’t tried it yet but it looks good. You asked what applications I am running. I am a technical trainer and years ago I developed a skill with AutoSketch Release 2.1. With this I could create many 2D technical diagrams and drawings. Exporting to dxf allowed me to import to PowerPoint 4, where I put in the colour and posh text. People often asked ‘How do you get such detail into PPT slides?’ My secret, not telling you.
    Later, with later versions of everything I kept (and still keep) a separate PC, with the old software installed, just for this work. Once I have everything in place, I can pick up the old PPT slides in a later version of PowerPoint and save in the new format, ready for work at my client’s premises.
    Why don’t I just move on and work with the newer software? Firstly, I believe in not fixing something unless it is broke. Second, I am a stubborn old git. But thirdly, the newer programs have not met my needs. For example, AutoSketch was bought out by another company and they changed the interface so much it was unworkable. PowerPoint changed the grid system so I could no longer move an object and then return it to it’s exact previous location. This may be OK for the pie chart brigade but for technical pictures it is a disaster. Even fixing PPT pictures into Word (for course notes) changed so much I couldn’t handle it. (So I still Use Word 2).
    Why should I spend significant man-hours learning new stuff? It’s not just money, although that is a factor, but time is life. When I die they will say (either) ‘he had a good innings’ (or) ‘what a shame he died so young’. Our lives are measured in units of time, and I resent people like MicroSoft stealing mine.
    Bitter old git? Probably, but I reiterate what I said at the beginning – why fix what is not broke?
    Cheers!

  46. Done  

    THEY’VE HIT THE WALL !
    We don’t need 64 bit.
    There’s enough computing power in 16 & 32 bit.
    And, they finally got to solid state hard drives.
    I use 16 bit “draw” for my business.
    Came with a printer.
    There is NO REASON to continue this “advancement”, other than to keep the
    tunnel visionaries occupied.

  47. Zubin  

    Using Data intensive application over client server setup for commercial use which is otherwise working perfectly other than this backward integration or backward incompatibility (ie no option/provision to run 16 bit application on 64 bit OS).

    “Upgrading” WITHOUT backward incompatibility is actually quite vision-less, as Microsoft is ignoring the universal masses which really made Microsoft. An upgrade that LOSES usability makes absolutely no sense AT ALL.
    Microsoft should have made an inbuilt option to take care of legacy software.

  48. Michael Morrow  

    I still use 16 bit OS for the purpose of programming older microchip IC’s.

  49. Carl  

    We still use some specialized 16-bit software to communicate with older industrial controllers at work. They also use RS232 serial com-port, which is pretty rare on modern laptops. The USB dongles we´ve tried are far from perfect.

    For normal desktop use I much prefer the 64-bit OS’s.

  50. Maureen  

    “Easy Writer” was the best DOS program to keep daily logs on. A very simple word processor. I have years worth of text files (and recipes) to be able to read! When I can get some of it to open, it is in the world’s smallest font! Help!

  51. Dave  

    The 16-bit legacy apps I use on my Win 7 32-bit OS PC every day at work are: DraftChoice (I have over 8,000 drawings that comprise the core data for our business), Lotus Organizer, and TKSolver (a math app with user constructed calculations – I’ve written maybe a hundred programs in this app, that save me hours of work), plus a few more (dictionary, thesaurus, etc.). Now, having to migrate to a Win 10 64-bit PC to stay safe on the web, I have to buy a whole new – secondary – PC/keyboard/mouse/monitor setup to communicate on the web – plus the software, while somehow maintaining the integrity of my old Win 7 32-bit PC whereon I’ll be using my 16-bit apps. Two complete PC systems on my desk. Utterly ridiculous!!!

  52. Doug  

    I’m trying to run my old 16 bit Kawasaki parts program being I do vintage motorcycle work. It has microfiche not available anywhere else, including the newer Kawasaki parts programs. No newer program is available to replace it.

  53. David  

    Need to install AutoCAD 2000, DOS based TANGO and Win XP based Oracle PCB design/schematic. All pricey programs that still function well. Hope this works.

  54. Se  

    For 64 Bit use winevdm at: https://github.com/otya128/winevdm . Its ported from Wine Project and allow to execute 16 Bit Programs (Windows & DOS) on 64 Bit directly.

  55. Frank James  

    I run Lotus AmiPro which is far superior to WordPro. AmiPro’s Drawing Editor is second to none in a word Processor and I do Electronic drawings to professional standards with all the symbols required in a library which I have built up over the years. AmiPro must be in the top 5 for the best piece of software ever written as it has works flawlessly in all the windows operating systems Microsoft have ever produced right up to Windows 10 32 bit. I also use a NRSV version of the Bible software with superior cross references, word searches and the like. The versions on the web site are not anything like as good.
    I would love there to be a 32 or 64 bit version of these items of software.

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