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Application Setup and Compatibility

Most applications have a setup program that uses InstallShield, or Windows Installer. When you start the setup program, the installer helps you through the installation process and should also make it easier to uninstall the program if necessary. With older applications, the setup program might use an outdated version of one of these installers, which might mean the uninstall process won't completely uninstall the program.

Regardless of whether a program has a current installer, you should consider the possibility that you will need to recover your computer if something goes wrong with the installation. To help ensure that you can recover your computer, make sure System Restore is enabled for the drive on which you are installing the program by typing System Restore in the Search box and pressing Enter to open the System Properties dialog box to the System Protection tab. With System Restore enabled, Windows automatically creates checkpoint before installing the program. Then if a problem occurs, you can use this checkpoint to recover your computer.

Although the installers for most current programs automatically trigger the creation of a restore point before making any changes to a computer, the installers for older programs might not. You can manually create a restore point, by selecting the system drive on the Protection Settings panel and then clicking Create. Then, if you run into problems, you can try to uninstall the program or use System Restore to recover the computer to the state it was in prior to installing the program.

Generally, Windows 10 checks for potential compatibility problems before you install applications. If it detects a problem, you might see a Program Compatibility Assistant dialog box after you start a program's installer. Often, this dialog box contains information about the known compatibility issues with the program and a possible solution. With some legacy applications, the Program Compatibility Assistant might display a message that the program is blocked due to compatibility issues. Programs get blocked because they cause a known stability issue with Windows, and you can't create an immediate work around to the problem. Your options will be limited. Generally, you'll either be able to check for solutions online or cancel the installation. If you check for solutions online, the typical solution requires you to purchase a current version of the program.

If the installation continues but fails for any reason before it is fully complete (or fails to properly notify the operating system regarding completion), you will also see the Program Compatibility Assistant dialog box. In this case, if the program installed correctly, click This Program Installed Correctly. If the program didn't install correctly, click Reinstall Using Recommended Settings to allow the Program Compatibility Assistant to apply compatibility fixes, and then try again to run the installer.

When you start programs, Windows 10 uses the Program Compatibility Assistant to automatically make changes for known compatibility issues as well. If the Program Compatibility Assistant detects a known compatibility issue when you run an application, it notifies you about the problem and provides possible solutions. You can then either accept the solutions or you can manually configure compatibility as discussed in "Resolving Compatibility Issues" later in this tutorial.

Making Programs Available

After installation, most desktop programs should have related tiles on the Start menu and related options on the Apps list. This occurs because a program's shortcuts are placed in the appropriate subfolder of the Start Menu\Programs folder for all users so that any user who logs on has access to that program. Some programs prompt you during installation to choose whether you want to install the program for all users or only for the currently logged-on user. Other programs simply install themselves only for the current user.

If setup installs a program so that it is available only to the currently logged-on user and you want other users to have access to the program, you need to do one of the following:

  • Log on to the computer with each user account that should have access to the program, and then rerun Setup to make the program available to these users. Then you also need to run Setup again when a new user account is added to the computer and that user needs access to the program.
  • For programs that don't require per-user settings to be added to the registry before running, you can in some cases make the program available to all users on a computer by adding the appropriate shortcuts to the Start Menu\Programs folder for all users. Simply copy or move the program shortcuts from the currently logged-on user's profile to the Start Menu\Programs folder for all users.

To make a program available to all users on a computer, you can copy or move a program's shortcuts by completing the following steps:

  1. In File Explorer, make sure you can view hidden files and protected system files. Click File and then click Change Folder And Search Options. On the View tab, select Show Hidden Files, Folders, And Drives and clear the Hide Protected Operating System Files checkbox.
  2. Access the currently logged-on user's Programs folder. This is a hidden folder under %UserProfile%\AppData\ Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu.
  3. In the Programs folder, right-click the folder for the program group or the shortcut you want to work with, and then click Copy or Cut on the shortcut menu.
  4. Next, navigate to the Start Menu\Programs folder for all users. This hidden folder is under %SystemDrive%\ ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows.
  5. In the Programs folder, right-click an open space, and then click Paste. The program group or shortcut should now be available to all users of the computer.

Resolving Compatibility Issues

To get older programs to run, you might sometimes need to adjust compatibility options. Some programs won't install or run on Windows 10 even if they work on earlier releases of Windows. As discussed previously, if you try to install a program that has known compatibility problems, Windows 10 displays a warning prompt telling you about the compatibility issue. Generally, you shouldn't continue installing or running a program with known compatibility problems, unless there are known fixes that can be applied. That said, if a program will not install or run properly, you may be able to get the program to run by adjusting its compatibility settings.

You can manage compatibility settings using the Program Compatibility Wizard, or you can edit the program's compatibility settings directly by using the program's Properties dialog box. Both techniques work the same way. Keep in mind programs that are part of Windows 10 cannot be run in Compatibility mode-they don't need to be and for these programs the Compatibility options are not available.

To have Windows 10 try to automatically detect compatibility issues using the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter Wizard locate the program shortcut by right-clicking the program on Start and selecting Open File Location. This opens File Explorer with the .exe file for the program selected. Next, right-click the program shortcut, and then click Troubleshoot Compatibility to start the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter Wizard.

The wizard tries to automatically detect compatibility issues. If issues are detected, the wizard applies fixes and allows you to run the program with the recommended fixes. To do this, click Try Recommended Settings and then click Test The Program. After running the program, click Next, and then do one of the following:

  • Click Yes, Save These Settings For This Program if the compatibility settings resolved the problem and you want to keep the settings.
  • Click No, Try Again Using Different Settings if the compatibility settings didn't resolve the problem and you want to repeat this process from the beginning.
  • Click No, Report The Problem To Microsoft And Check Online For A Solution if the compatibility settings didn't resolve the problem and you'd like to check for an online solution.

Click Cancel if you want to discard the compatibility settings and exit the wizard. If a program you have already installed won't run correctly, you might want to edit the compatibility settings directly rather than by using the wizard. You can do this by following these steps.

  1. Locate the program shortcut by right-clicking the program on Start and selecting Open File Location. This opens File Explorer with the .exe file for the program selected. Next, right-click the program shortcut, and then click Properties.
  2. In the Properties dialog box, click the Compatibility tab. Any option you select is applied to the currently logged-on user for the program shortcut. To apply the setting to all users on the computer and regardless of which shortcut is used to start the program, click Change Setting For All Users to open the Compatibility For All Users tab, and then select the compatibility settings that you want to use for all users who log on to the computer.
  3. Select the Run This Program In Compatibility Mode For check box, and then use the selection menu to choose the operating system for which the program was designed, such as Windows 7.
  4. For very old legacy programs, use the display options in the Settings panel to restrict the video display settings for the program. Options include Reduced Color Mode with either 8-bit (256) color or 16-bit (65536) color, Run In 640 x 480 Screen Resolution, and Disable Display Scaling Of High DPI Settings.
  5. Click OK. Double-click the shortcut to run the program and test the compatibility settings. If you still have problems running the program, modify the compatibility settings and use different options. For example, if you thought the program was created for Windows 7 but it was really created for Windows Vista, change the compatibility mode.

Managing, Repairing, and Uninstalling Desktop Programs

Windows 10 considers any program you've installed on a computer or made available for a network installation to be an installed program. You use the setup program that comes with the program to install programs, and the Programs And Features page in Control Panel to manage programs.

The basic steps for working with programs follow:

  1. Type Programs And Features in the Search box and then press Enter. Or click Programs and then click Programs And Features when working with Control Panel.
  2. You should see a list of installed programs. In the Name list, right-click the program you want to work with. The options available depend on the program you are working with and include:
    • Uninstall: Choose this option to uninstall the program
    • Uninstall/Change: Choose this option to uninstall or modify a program
    • Change: Choose this option to modify the program's configuration
    • Repair: Choose this option to repair the program's installation

The management options available depend on the installer program used during setup of the application and the version of the installer. Most software applications use InstallShield or Windows Installer, but not necessarily the most recent version. If the uninstall process fails, you often can resolve any problem simply by rerunning the uninstaller for the program.

When you are uninstalling programs, keep the following in mind:

  • Windows warns you if you try to uninstall a program while other users are logged on. Using the Switch Accounts option, other users can be logged in but not active. Before uninstalling programs that others might be using you should have those users log off. If you don't do this, you might cause other users to lose data or experience other problems.
  • Windows only allows you to remove programs that were installed with a Windows compatible setup program. Legacy programs might have a separate uninstall utility that doesn't use InstallShield or Windows Installer. Some legacy programs work by copying their data files to a program folder and these you uninstall simply by deleting the related folder.
  • Many uninstall programs leave behind data either inadvertently or by design. Because of this, you'll often find folders for these applications within the Program Files folder. Although you could delete these folders, they might contain important data files or custom user settings that could be used again if you reinstall the program.

Managing Currently Running Apps, Programs and Processes

In Windows 10, you can view and work with your computer's currently running apps, programs and processes by using Task Manager. Open Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc or by right-clicking the lower-left corner of the screen and then clicking Task Manager on the shortcut menu.

By default, Task Manager displays a summary list of all running apps and programs. When you click an apps or program in the list, you can manage it. To exit an app or program (which might be necessary when it is not responding), click it in the Task list, and then click End Task. To display other management options, right-click the app or program in the Task list.

When working with the summary view, you can click More Details to open the full Task Manager. You'll then see detailed information about running programs, apps and processes. The Processes tab lists each item running on the computer under three general headings:

  • Apps: Shows desktop apps and programs that you've started.
  • Background Processes: Shows processes being run in the background by Windows.
  • Windows Processes: Shows all other processes running on the computer.

Apps, programs and processes are listed by name, status, CPU usage, memory usage, disk usage, and network usage. A blank status indicates a normal state. As with the summary view, you can exit an application or stop a running process by clicking the item in the Task list, and then clicking End Task.

Some items with related windows or processes can be expanded. Double-click an item to see details for the related windows or processes. Display more management options by right-clicking an item in the Task list. The options include:

  • Open File Location: Opens the folder containing the executable file for the application or process in File Explorer
  • Create Dump File: Creates a memory dump file for the selected process
  • Go To Details: Opens the Details tab with the process selected
  • Properties: Opens the Properties dialog box for the executable file.

Although programs you are running are listed under the Apps heading, programs being run by any other users (such as when you switch context) are listed as Background Processes. Select the Users tab to view information about resources being used by other users.

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