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.


37 Comments

37 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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

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