With the release of Windows 11, Microsoft has finally bidden adieu to the old 16-bit and 32-bit programs. Windows 11 is available only as a 64-bit operating system. But you can still run the old 32-bit programs and games on your 64-bit Windows 11 PC without taking any special steps.
However, things are not the same when it comes to the very dated 16-bit programs. On a Windows 10 system, the users were able to install the legacy component NTVDM. This allowed anyone to run the older 16-bit applications. But on Windows 11, NTVDM is not available at all.
If you try to launch such an old 16-bit program on Windows 11, it shows the error: “This app cannot run on your PC”. It also gives excellent advice to find updated versions. But unfortunately the old 16-bit programs from early 1990’s were never updated to work on Windows 11. So we can find a workaround using the popular DOSBox.
For using DOSBox to run 16 bit applications is very easy. Suppose you want to run a 16-bit program located in C:\hhunter\start.exe. Then here is how you can proceed:
- Download DOSBox from https://www.dosbox.com/download.php and install it on your Windows 11 PC.
- Copy all the 16-bit program related files to an easy-to-access folder such as C:\hhunter.
- Launch DOSBox from its desktop shortcut.
- Before we can run the 16-bit program, we have to mount the local folder inside DOSBox. For mounting our example folder (C:\hhunter), you can give the command in DOSBox mount c c:\hhunter. In this case, we mounted the folder C:\hhunter to the C: drive inside the DOSBox.
- We have to switch to the mounted drive, for which the command is the target drive letter, e.g., C:.
- Now you can check the contents of the C: drive in DOSBox by using the dir command. You can launch the 16-bit program by typing its file name and pressing Enter. In our case, we launched the old Highway Hunter game from 1993.
Interesting thing about the old 16-bit programs is that they usually do not depend on the Windows Registry to save the settings or various other modern Windows features. This is why they can be run easily inside DOSBox. Any sound or graphics card related functionality expected from an old system is fulfilled by the DOSBox automatically.