New Windows Vista runs older programs

Ask Jim

Plugged In

February 15, 2007|By Jim Coates | Jim Coates,Chicago Tribune

I am quite old and computer-ignorant. I need a new computer, as mine is about six years old and on its last legs. I took your suggestion and waited for Windows Vista, and I intend to get a new Dell with all the power I can get.

What worries me is whether Vista will let me use programs that I used constantly over the years, such as Adobe Photoshop 2.0, which let me create and edit and print anything that came to mind. Photo montages, artistic creations - anything was possible.

Will my old programs work in a new Vista system computer? Will the new operating system have such a graphics program?

- Pat Kasper

I spent some time messing around with PCs fired by Vista and found that there seems to be little for most of us to worry about, because the new Windows version deals simply with backward compatibility.

First of all, I found that for the most part, my older programs worked the same with Vista as on their original machines. In some cases, loading these programs prompted a few dire-sounding warnings from Vista's beefed-up security system about proceeding. Ignore these pop-ups and keep on loading, and your programs should run fine.

Beyond that, Windows Vista includes two tools devoted to making old software work. First is an option called "Run as administrator," which will let users run programs that reach out to the Internet or do other things regulated by Windows when the computer is set up for multiple users. So, if you load something and it fails, give the program's icon a right click and select the "Run as administrator" option in the pop-up menu that appears.

Second, take a further look at that right-click menu for any program and you will find a tab for Compatibility.

Open the Compatibility tab, and you'll find a drop-down box that lets one set the program so Windows Vista will attempt to run it by emulating earlier operating systems, dating from Windows 95 to Windows. Here also are settings to reduce the display resolution and the number of colors so that big, powerful Vista-capable machines will look like earlier computers if needed.

It should be added that from time to time, there have been compatibility issues such as a flap last month about running Intuit's QuickBooks on Vista, but for the most part, there's little to worry about on this score.

Your second question about whether the Vista program will deliver features that you are getting out of Photoshop gets a qualified yes for an answer.

There are great new features in the photo side of things at Vista. When one opens a photo in Vista, it comes up in a display screen that includes a number of options in a toolbar at the top. A Fix option lets users make many of the same adjustments to images as Photoshop does. You get sliders to set brightness and contrast, other sliders to determine color temperature, and still others for tints and saturation. A crop tool lets one quickly snip at will and, of course, there's a red-eye reduction tool. Beyond the Fix command, you get a prompt to include the image in a movie to be created in the Movie Maker module of Vista and then burn it onto a CD-R or, for the first time in Windows, a DVD-R.

I occasionally receive e-mails with pictures embedded in them. They come through with an outlined box with a red X in the top left corner and no photo. Also, some e-mails that I send that I know are good are received with the outlined box and red X.

I contacted Earthlink support, and they gave me a fix that did not work. My experience is that it is a common problem and not related to an ISP. I run Windows XP. I had the same problem when I ran Windows 2000 Pro.

- Howard Hand

You're the victim of the ever-increasing number of security tools built into Microsoft's software and operating systems, and happily, your fix is just one check box away.

Open Outlook Express and click on Tools in the command bar next to File, Edit, View, etc. In the tabbed menu that this summons, click the one for Security. There you will find a simple yes/no check box to enable or disable showing pictures embedded in e-mail messages.

Tell your friends to make the same change, and they'll also get messages with the pictures embedded.

Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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