Technology

How to use decades-old software on today’s PCs

Q: I’m visually impaired and have a “closed circuit TV magnification device” attached to my PC. It worked on Windows 7, even though the vision program was designed for Windows XP.

But now that I’ve upgraded my PC to Windows 10, the software manufacturer, Enhanced Vision, says my vision software won’t work with that operating system. Is there a way to run this Windows XP software on Windows 10?

Dan Puumala, Robbinsdale, Minn.

A: Yes, it should work if you use the Windows 10 “compatibility mode,” which allows your PC to run software designed for operating systems as old as Windows 95 (issued in 1995). Windows 7 has the same feature, which is why it could run your Windows XP-vintage software.

To activate compatibility mode, locate the vision program on your PC using File Explorer (formerly Windows Explorer). On the C drive, click “Program files.” In the resulting list you'll probably find a folder called Enhanced Vision. Inside that folder, find the file listed as an “application.” (Or, if your program has a Windows “shortcut” icon, you can use that instead.)

Right click that file, and in the resulting menu click “properties.” In the next menu, click the “compatibility” tab. In the next menu, check the box beside “run this program in compatibility mode for,” and from the drop-down menu select “Windows XP Service Pack 3.” (If that doesn’t work, try “Windows XP Service Pack 2, an earlier update of XP.) At the bottom of the menu, click “OK.” Your program should now run properly. (For details, see tinyurl.com/o5xyp7x.)

Q: I use the Outlook Express 2007 email program with Windows 7. How can I get rid of the small red letter X that appears in place of pictures in emails?

Jack Jacobson, Miami

A: The “red X” that takes the place of a photo is a security feature Microsoft added to thwart senders of spam email.

People who send spam often transmit millions of copies without knowing whether they are all reaching email addresses that are in use. To solve this problem, spam messages sometimes include photos that contain computer code known as a “Web beacon.” When a spam recipient opens the message, the beacon code in the photo notifies the spam sender that the recipient’s email address is in use. And that guarantees that more spam will be sent to that address.

Because the “red X” feature annoyed many consumers, Microsoft allows users to turn it off. In Outlook Express, click on the Tools menu, choose Options and click on the Security tab. Uncheck the box beside “Block images and other external content in HTML email.” Click OK.

Q: We’ve gotten messages that some drivers are outdated on our Windows 10 PC, which may be why our scanner no longer works. What should I do?

Frank DuPont, Colorado Springs, Colo.

A: Frequent changes are made to “software drivers,” which are bits of computer code that enable your PC’s components to work together and with external gadgets such as printers and scanners. Go to your scanner manufacturer’s website and download the Windows 10 driver for your model.

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