Mostly you will have 64-bit hardware and Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 OS on it. Some Windows 7 users also might have the 64-bit version yet. If you have a program/app that is 32-bit, how to install 32-bit on 64-bit Windows 7? Follow this simple guide.
The truth is, the latest Windows 64-bit versions support 32-bit applications nicely without any issues provided by the compatibility of the program installation. You can install and use them. But remember, you can’t install the 64-bit Programs on 32-bit Operating System like Windows 7 32-bit.
NOTE: Except if you use the ancient legacy applications for specific reasons, getting the 64-bit version of the application is recommended. All recent applications have the 64-bit version or have enough intelligence to detect the host OS type and install the appropriate version. Also, this is the right time to upgrade your Windows 7 to the latest since your computer already supports 64-bit hardware.
Install 32-bit Programs on 64-bit Windows
The Windows OS has two different ‘Program Files’ folders to handle the application versions. When you install the 32-bit application on a 64-bit-based OS, it gets installed inside the ‘Program Files (x86)’ and copies all files required to run the program. So next time when you open the 32-bit program, it accesses the executable program file from the Program Files (x86) folder and works without any issue in Windows 7 64-bit.
Also, 32-bit program system files are installed into C:\ \WINDOWS\ \SysWOW64.
Registry keys are placed under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ \Software\ \WOW6432Node of 32-bit programs.
How to Identify the Version of the Program (64 or 32-bit) in Windows
You can identify the programs’ type by the executable folder’s location. If it is placed under the Program folder (x86), it is a 32-bit version of the program; another one (standard Program Files) will contain 64-bit applications.
Also, the task manager is another great place to find the version of the running programs. Open the task manager and click on the Processes; here, you can see all processes of the currently running programs. On 64-bit OS (in my case, it is Windows 10), the 32-bit programs are shown below. Other ones (which don’t have 32 Bit) are 64-bit applications on the computer.
Sometimes, you may need to run the 32-bit version of applications/tools without installing them. Usually, double-clicking the EXE file will open the application without any issues. If you face any problems, you can move these EXE files into the Program Files (x86) folder and create a shortcut to the desktop to execute the program whenever you want.
There are a few suggestions available online to install IIS (Internet Information Services) on Windows 7 64-bit computers to enable 32-bit support. I don’t recommend installing additional IIS services on your computer for this purpose.
If the 32-bit program you are trying can be installed or executed by default, as we mentioned earlier, better use it. If it doesn’t work, getting the compatible version from the software vendor or upgrading your Windows computer is recommended.
If you are still interested in the IIS method and install 32bit on 64bit Windows 7, check the below video.
2 thoughts on “Install 32-bit Programs on 64-bit Windows 7/8 and 10 – Worth Trying?”
7 Aug 2019: Finally migrated from a WinXP cmptr to a Win7 64 bit and copied my old DOS WordPerfect files into the Program Files (x86) folder but the32 bit wp.cmd and wp.exe files would not run in the 64 bit machine. There are other 32 bit programs in the “. . . (x86)” folder but WP 6.0 apparently won’t work in 64 bit OS.
64 bit systems do not run DOS- or 16 bit windows programs. I am able to run WordPerfect DOS on a x64 system by first installing VDOS, and executing WP.EXE in that environment.
I do also have a laptop (Thinkpad X240 )that I use mostly for writing. Even though it is a 64-bit machine, I installed 32 bit Windows 10 on it, because I do use some older programs which run much better on 32 bits. 32 bits windows also has ntvm, so they can run MS-DOS programs like Windows XP — The only difference is that from windows 7 on, all console programs must be run in a Windows, since they no longer have a full-screen console.
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