The Most Common Windows 7 Compatibility Issues

windows7compatability   The Most Common Windows 7 Compatibility IssuesWindows 7 has been very well reviewed. Most technology websites have been happy with the new release of Window 7, particularly when compared to the disastrous Windows Vista.

One of the reasons why Windows 7 has gone over better than Vista is compatibility. Windows 7 is a less drastic departure from Vista than Vista was from XP, and this has resulted in fewer growing pains. Users are much less likely to run into programs that won’t run in Windows 7 because of compatibility problems.

However, there are still some Windows 7 compatibility issues which you may run into. These problems are somewhat unavoidable.


A new operating system is always going to make some changes which don’t agree with older software. The changes are usually improvements in the long term, but cause short term compatibility problems. So, let’s take a look at three common Windows 7 compatibility issues and what can be done to fix them.

32 bit vs. 64 bit Compatibility Issues

windows7compatibility2   The Most Common Windows 7 Compatibility Issues

The rise of 64 bit operating systems is inevitable. Many OEM copies of Windows 7 which come with pre-built systems are the 64-bit version, and most Microsoft Windows 7 licenses sold at retail now come with two disks – one for installing the 32 bit operating system and one for installing the 64 bit operating system. If you’re confused about the differences between the two, check out our article discussing them.

If you have the 32-bit version of Windows 7 you’re fine. Most past versions of Windows XP and Windows Vista were 32-bit versions, and most programs were created for them. If you have installed the 64-bit version of Windows 7, however, you might run into some problems. This usually manifests itself in the form of programs which refuse to run at all – they’ll crash out instantly.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot that you can do about this issue. The difference between a 32-bit and 64-bit operating system reaches deep into Windows 7′s most basic code, so there is no compatibility mode which can resolve this problem. There are, however, two possible courses of action.

One is to see if a new version of the program exists. Most new software will be capable of running under 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 7. The second is to create a disk partition and install a second, 32-bit copy of Windows 7 on your computer. This is a tough fix for this compatibility issue, and certainly not very convenient, but if you have an older program which is no longer receiving support this may be your only way to work around this Windows 7 compatibility issue.

Windows XP (& Older) Reverse Compatibility Issues

windows7compatibilityxpmode   The Most Common Windows 7 Compatibility Issues

Windows 7 is very similar, under the skin, to Windows Vista. There are a lot of fundamental changes in the operating system which make Windows 7 different from Windows XP. The praise of Windows 7′s better compatibility isn’t necessarily because Windows 7 is coded better than Windows Vista. The perception of better compatibility also has to do with the fact that many compatibility fixes which were made for Vista also work for Windows 7.

Still, you may sometimes run into older Windows XP programs which don’t sit well with Windows 7. These are usually programs which were made around the time Windows XP launched. Programs this old are often no longer supported by their developers, who have moved on to other projects.

Microsoft recognizes this problem, and has created a Windows XP Mode which emulates Windows XP, making it possible to run very old programs. This mode can also, in some cases, make it possible to run programs from Windows 98, as such programs were sometimes compatible with XP. MakeUseOf has a full guide on how to use Windows XP mode to solve Windows 7 compatibility issues.

Windows 7 Driver Compatibility Issues

windows7compatibility3   The Most Common Windows 7 Compatibility Issues

The final common Windows 7 compatibility problem is driver issues. Drivers are tricky because they’re very low-level code in the operating system. Changes in an operating system usually cause pre-existing drivers to become useless because the drivers will be looking to work with parts of the operating system which no longer exist. Drivers are also tricky because they affect so many parts of your computer. Everything from your printer to your video card requires drivers in order to run.

If you’re upgrading from Vista, you’ll have an easier time with driver compatibility in Windows 7. Windows 7 and Vista are similar and drivers for one will often at least work – if not optimally – for the other. However, if you’re upgrading from Windows XP you’re going to need to find new drivers for everything in your computer and most devices which connect to your computer.

Finding new drivers is, thankfully, easy. It is up to each vendor to make drivers for their products, so you merely need to go to the websites of vendors who made your hardware and download the new Windows 7 drivers. For example, you need to go with Nvidia’s website to download video drivers if you have a Nvidia video card, or you need to go to HP’s website to download printer drivers if you have an HP printer. Once you download and install the new drivers your Windows 7 compatibility issues will be resolved.

Conclusion

Windows 7 compatibility issues exist, but are minimal. These compatibility problems are inevitable, as they involve such fundamental parts of the operating system that any upgrade will cause older programs and devices to have problems functioning. Hopefully Microsoft’s next operating system, whenever it arrives, will be as painless.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

15 Comments -

0 votes

The Robot Inside

I’ve been using Win7 for sometime at home, and it’s really amazing.I do miss the old WinXp, but you can’t stop evolution.For stupid reasons .. my boss at work still thinks that WinXp is superior and more stable!

0 votes

Matt.Smith

Some people have been using Windows XP for seven years now. They’re a bit afraid to move on.

But yes, I agree that Windows 7 is amazing. The few compatibility issues or really unavoidable. New features sometimes require changes that break older features or programs. It is annoying, but worth it in the long run.

0 votes

The Robot Inside

I’ve been using Win7 for sometime at home, and it’s really amazing.
I do miss the old WinXp, but you can’t stop evolution.

For stupid reasons .. my boss at work still thinks that WinXp is superior and more stable!

0 votes

smidgenpc

Some people have been using Windows XP for seven years now. They’re a bit afraid to move on.

But yes, I agree that Windows 7 is amazing. The few compatibility issues or really unavoidable. New features sometimes require changes that break older features or programs. It is annoying, but worth it in the long run.

0 votes

Vivek Parmar

one of the most major problem i have faced is that drivers compatibility

0 votes

rian

I just started using Windows7 and am getting used to it. I have a problem with my printer, a Lexmark X2530. MY OCR program stars scanning a page, but stalls and finally presents a message that basically says it failed to OCR because the proper driver isn’t installed. I downloaded and installed the driver from Lexmark’s webpage. Anyone know a solution to this?

0 votes
0 votes

Aibek

Rian,

I think yous should ask about that on MakeUseOf Answers,
http://www.makeuseof.com/answe

Aibek

0 votes

Suswhit9

I have been running windows 7 for 6 months and although some of the applications are an obvious improvment my findings have been problemental.
Crashes are regular on most applications and when using their troubleshooter the answer is nearly all the same, when a solution is found the answer will be sent to you. This has been never
My computer has been taken back to factory settings twice and when I shut down there is regularly updates the most being 42 on June 15 2010.
My next move is to take it back to factory settings and disable updates as I feel this causes problems.
I use Windows Home Premium on a Pentium Dual-Core, 2.2 Ghz, 4Gb ram , 32 bit.

0 votes

Suswhit9

I have been running windows 7 for 6 months and although some of the applications are an obvious improvment my findings have been problemental.
Crashes are regular on most applications and when using their troubleshooter the answer is nearly all the same, when a solution is found the answer will be sent to you. This has been never
My computer has been taken back to factory settings twice and when I shut down there is regularly updates the most being 42 on June 15 2010.
My next move is to take it back to factory settings and disable updates as I feel this causes problems.
I use Windows Home Premium on a Pentium Dual-Core, 2.2 Ghz, 4Gb ram , 32 bit.

0 votes

yuregininsesi

I use an old acer travelmate (4230) and my webcam and card reader are not compatible with win 7. do you have any solution for that?

0 votes
0 votes

Aibek

Please post this on MakeUseOf Answers

http://www.makeuseof.com/answe

Aibek

0 votes

teachsanjay

hi! i just switched from xp to wni7 ultimate, the problem is i cannot connect to the internet using a DSL line, even wifi.i had installed the drivers. and i cannot update the win7 driver ‘coz i connection is out of the list. please help! its hard to move from one OS to another. thanks! im using gateway nv49c.

0 votes

M.S. Smith

Have you checked Acer’s website for a driver update?