Today I am sitting down with a cold brew playing.   IT is meant to be fun.


Today I have decided to play with Compatibility.   Today I am going to make Microsoft BOB work in Windows 7 WITHOUT a shim and WITHOUT Windows XP Mode.


Just because.

So why bother?  It’s an old program.

Because in your office you may well have such an application.  I think this could help you.  That program that somebody is depending on, that your deployment hits and won’t work on the new operating system.

Yes you could just go “Med-V” or “App-V” or “XP Mode” but isn’t it better to find what REALLY makes it work?

Your program could have been written by a Vendor, a good friend, a CoOp student.

Your Cousin Jenny.

The point is BOB is a good benchmark on making an old Windows 3.1 application work.  It also a good example of sometimes thinking TOO hard too solve a solution. Smile

Today I loaded up the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit to make “BOB” work.  I ran the Standard User Analyzer, I pulled out and SEARCHED for potential solutions in the App Compatibility Database.

No no no no and NOOOOOOOOO!

Nope.  100% fail.  Couldn’t find a thing wrong.

It installed find but when run it just could not find “UTOPIA.DLL”.  That SEEMED to be the only problem.

Well I was looking in the folder and it WAS there!

I’m thinking “What the beepity boop is BOB talking about?!”  Does BOB need glasses?  The file is OBVIOUSLY there!

Then I thought. 

Windows 3.1.  It wasn’t an O/S.  It was a GUI shell launched from DOS.   Dos had search paths.   When BOB normally would install (like any other Windows 3.1 program it would add it’s folder to the search path)

So two options.  Add the “BOB” folder to the search path in Windows 7 so it COULD find the new .DLL files …… OR CHEAT! (Hint.  I cheated… shhhhh.  Don’t tell!)

I copied the .DLL files (16bit Windows 3.1 Classic) to the C:Windowssystem folder

I started BOB again.  What do you think happened?



It worked.

You see, the Windows 3.1 programs remember worked with INI files, not registry settings.   Generally if it asks the O/S “where is Blah blah blah” and the O/S responds “here it is” it’ll find it

What does this mean to you?

When that old VB4 (or whatever) program installs on Windows 7 and you HAVE to make it work, you might just get away with adding the program to the Windows 7 Search path, or (like one un-named technician) cheat and copy it to the SYSTEM folder (I don’t recommend this of course, not a ‘best practice’ to dump 17 year .DLL files into your Windows 7 folders.

But if you’re stuck, between the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (and a little SIMPLE creativity) *YOU* can solve ANY problem.

Cheers as well to Melinda Gates.   You may poke fun at BOB but it was an attempt to try and make the system more on the USERS’s terms not the “computer guy”.  BOB came back alive in the characters in Word 97 and Windows XP.

We the computer guys might laugh at “Clippy” or “the Wizard”.  But they TRULY made applications for fun, friendly and HUMAN to a standard user.

By the way, my personal favorite “Clippy” quote pointed out by my friend Rick at Around the Clock I.T. Solutions Inc.   It got him looking into “how to use Word 97”

…… Never run with Scissors……

The power is always in you and no goal is insurmountable.  Just a little “clippy” sometimes. Winking smile

The Energized Tech