Install and Run 32-bit Programs on 64-bit Windows 7/8 and 10

Most of the time you will be having the 64-bit version of Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (sometimes Windows 7 as well) if you have purchased the computer recently. If you have a program/app that is 32-bit, how to install 32-bit programs on 64-bit Windows? Follow this simple guide.

The truth is, the latest Windows 64-bit versions support 32-bit of application nicely without any issues. 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.

Run 32-bit Programs on 64-bit Windows

When you install the 32-bit application on 64-bit based OS, it creates a separate folder in root drive, called ‘Program Files (x86)’ and copy the all files required to run the program. So next time when you open the 32-bit program it accesses the executable program file from Program Files (x86) folder and runs without any issue with 64-bit Windows 7.

Run 32 bit Non Installable Programs 64 bit Windows 7

Also, 32-bit programs system files are installed into C:\ \WINDOWS\ \SysWOW64,

and 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 type of the programs by the location of the executable folder. If it placed under the 32-bit version of Program folder, then it is a 32-bit version of the program, another one is the 64-bit version on a 64-bit Windows OS.

Also, the task manager is another great place where you can find the version of the running programs.  Open the task manager and click on the Processes where you are can see the all processes related to currently running programs. On 64-bit OS (in my case it is Windows 10), the 32-bit programs shown below. Other ones (which doesn’t have 32 Bit) are 64-bit applications on the computer.

Task Bar To See 32 Bit Version Programs

In some cases, 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 issues, you can move these EXE files to Program folder inside Program Files (x86) folder in your root drive, then create a shortcut to the desktop to execute the program whenever wanted.

Hope this guide is useful to some extent to install and use 32-bit Programs on 64-bit Windows 7/8 and 10.

Dinesh is the founder of Sysprobs and written more than 400 articles. Enthusiast in Microsoft and cloud technologies with more than 15 years of IT experience.

2 thoughts on “Install and Run 32-bit Programs on 64-bit Windows 7/8 and 10”

  1. 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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