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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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16 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! 🙂

  7. NM January 7, 2017 at 7:52 pm #

    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 January 18, 2017 at 12:25 pm #

      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..

  8. Stephen January 8, 2017 at 8:11 pm #

    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 January 8, 2017 at 8:17 pm #

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

  10. John Molina January 12, 2017 at 4:21 am #

    “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

    • Steve Krause January 12, 2017 at 2:28 pm #

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

  11. John Molina January 12, 2017 at 4:31 am #

    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 January 21, 2017 at 7:39 pm #

    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 January 21, 2017 at 7:39 pm #

    My system is 32 bit.

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