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How to Discover 16-Bit Applications Before Migrating to 64-Bit Versions of Windows 7

How to Discover 16-Bit Applications Before Migrating to 64-Bit Versions of Windows 7
By Andreas Stenhall, Microsoft MVP — Windows Expert – IT Pro

When companies migrate to Windows 7, most of them look at deploying the 64-bit version of Windows 7. The x64 architecture of Windows does not support running 16-bit applications as the 32-bit version does. Unfortunately, 16-bit applications are still widely in use—even though you might not know it.

You can use the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) to take an inventory of all applications on your client machines. This is a great way to find applications when migrating to Windows 7. The ACT inventory does contain information about 16-bit applications that are still on client computers and being used in your business, but there is one slight challenge.

Application Compatibility Manager, which is part of ACT, does not provide a way to view these applications in the graphical user interface, so you have to do a SQL query using Microsoft SQL Management Studio Express tools.

  1. Perform an inventory of applications using Application Compatibility Toolkit.
  2. Install SQL Management Studio Express.
  3. Connect to the database and run the following query, which will return a list of potential 16-bit applications; it will list all applications that are not 32-bit or 64-bit. (Note: You will need to replace “ACTDATABASE” with the name of the ACT database that you have.)USE ACTDATABASE

    SELECT DISTINCT Applications.appName, Static_App_Properties.fileName, fileModuleType
    FROM Static_App_Properties
    INNER JOIN Application_Instance_Files
    ON Static_App_Properties.identity_hash = Application_Instance_Files.filePropertyID
    INNER JOIN Applications
    ON Application_Instance_Files.appID = Applications.identity_hash

    WHERE fileModuleType<>’32BIT’ AND fileModuleType<>’64BIT’ AND propertyType=’File’
    ORDER BY appName

The above query will return a list of applications that need investigation and testing very early in the process of migrating to Windows 7. For example, applications listed as Windows on Windows (WOW) or DOS applications will and/or might indicate a 16-bit application that you should prioritize to test and handle as necessary. You will also see any batch files or command files that have been inventoried; you will need to verify whether these will work with Windows 7.

Options for Dealing with 16-bit Applications
If you find 16-bit applications that your business needs to keep when you migrate to Windows 7, you might virtualize them with presentation virtualization technologies such as RemoteApp or Remote Desktop Services, or you might use virtualization technologies such as Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) to expedite the migration to the 64-bit version of Windows 7 while keeping the legacy 16-bit applications running. Under the best circumstances, all 16-bit applications would be replaced by more modern software, but experience has shown me there are many factors that keep this from happening.

Happy hunting for 16-bit applications!

Andreas Stenhall works as a deployment specialist at Knowledge Factory in Sweden and specializes in Windows customization and deployment. He is deeply involved in the Swedish community and also maintains an English-language blog for IT professionals. Andreas has repeatedly been awarded with the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award for “Windows Expert – IT Professional” for his dedicated work and involvement in the community.

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