Windows 3.1 programs on XP, 7

My father has some old programs that he has been using for a long time. They were originally designed for DOS/Windows 3.1, and he is currently using Windows XP 32-bit.

If he upgrades to Windows 7 64-bit, will those programs likely still work? What about 32-bit?

You could do something like this, although designed for Win98, I can't see why it wouldn't work with 3.11. Virtualisation with something like virtualbox might work to some extent too.

I suppose part of it depends whether you're running a generic program, or something that needs exact DOS/Win3.11 behaviour.

They'll probably work on 32-bit. They will not directly work on 64-bit, because AMD removed 16-bit support from 64-bit mode, the morons. God, I'd still like to pay a little visit to the guy who made THAT decision...

If you're on an Intel chip, virtualization doesn't help, because Intel chips apparently don't virtualize 16-bit mode natively. That has to be done with software translation, and it's quite slow, no better than something like DOSBox. From what I understand, AMD chips will correctly virtualize a 16-bit environment, so you could likely maintain a virtualized Windows 3.1 install to run those old programs at full speed, even in a 64-bit environment.

That said, you may not need that much speed, as 16-bit programs tended to be written to run well on slow processors. Something like DOSBox, or the software-translated virtualization, may be okay.

Getting Windows 3.1 up on DOSBox is definitely possible, but I don't know how good it actually is.

Appreciate the help. The biggest issue I've had before with virtualizations is that we need to be able to print from the old software. I haven't been very good at getting that to work, but is it something those programs like DOSbox are capable of?

What kinds of programs are you talking about? My dad used Autocad and accounting software for many many years before upgrading directly from 3.1 to 7. Since he owned licenses for those programs he contacted the companies and I think he got a discount on the new versions. The newer programs should be able to translate the old stuff.

It's legal document programs. Very outdated and the companies long since out of business. Current programs would cost too much money for him to buy, they are meant for firms and such. I promised to sit down with him and try to find free alternatives because there is only so long I can keep his old computers running. Every time I go over there he's got malware and toolbars, so many toolbars!