Running 16 bit Windows applications on 64 bit Windows

Did you ever load up your modern Windows 10 PC, ready to install your favourite application or game, only to be greeted by a dialog telling you it won’t run, and then you realise you’re trying to run a 16 bit application on your modern 64 bit Windows 10 installation?

I swear to god, this happens to me all the time.

Luckily, there’s a solution to this problem. In fact, there’s multiple solutions to this problem. Of course, you can always just fire up a virtual machine with 32 bit Windows, Windows 3.1, or OS/2 for massive style points, but that’s cumbersome and uncool (except for OS/2. OS/2 is always cool). There’s a better way.

Enter winevdm by otya128, which is a combination of MAME’s i386 emulation and the 16 bit part of wine. It allows you to run 16 bit applications on modern 64 bit versions of Windows. Edward Mendelson created a handy installer with some additional useful tools to make the process even easier.

As a sidenote, there’s also NTVDMx64, which is a version of Microsoft’s own NTVDM (Windows NT’s virtual DOS machine) adapted for 64 bit (Mendelson made a handy installer for this one, too). By its very nature, NTVDMx64 doesn’t run Windows 16 bit applications; only DOS ones. It is also important to note that NTVDMx64 is based on leaked Windows NT source code, so please be careful in which settings you use it.

There’s no real reason I’m talking about this today, other than the fact I that I ran into this stuff a few days ago when watching a YouTube video about running the IBM WorkPlace Shell for Windows 3.x on Windows 10, and thought it was fascinating. It might prove useful for some of you working at companies still running old 16 bit stuff, or if you’re digging around in your old floppy collection.


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