How to Fix Compatibility Problems on Your Computer
With new versions of operating systems, browsers and programs constantly appearing, computer users may find themselves in an incompatibility predicament in which old files or programs no longer work. Here are some common problems along with suggestions of how to resolve them.
When a company announces it will end support for a product, it may be time to upgrade. Microsoft recently announced that support for versions of Windows Vista that do not have service packs installed will end on April 13. Similarly, support for Windows XP with Service Pack 2 and all versions of Windows 2000 will end on July 13.
If you're running one of these versions after support ends, you won't get any security updates after the cutoff deadlines. Microsoft says ending support for old operating systems help the company allocate support resources to the majority of users and encourages Windows users to keep their computers updated.
To find out which version of Windows you are running, click "Start," type "winver" in the search box and press "Enter." An upgrade to Windows 7 will cost $120. If you prefer to continue using XP or Vista, be sure to download the free compatible service pack update: that's SP3 for XP and SP2 for Vista.
Both Windows 7 and Vista come in two flavors: the newer, more powerful 64-bit versions and the standard 32-bit versions. Switching to 64-bit can make some programs run faster and more efficiently, but it can cause compatibility problems. Older software and hardware like printers will not run on a 64-bit system. The answer? Choose the 32-bit version.
New Windows 7 users who were comfortable with XP will be happy to know Windows 7 includes an XP mode, which means the programs and documents you used with XP will work in Windows 7. Download Windows XP mode from Microsoft.
However, Windows 7 users may miss Outlook Express, Microsoft's free email client bundled in XP. Solution: Download Windows Live Mail. It's free and you will be able to import contacts and email from an Outlook Express account. Windows Live offers a suite of free programs in addition to mail, such as photo editing, parental controls and instant messenger―pick and choose the programs you want.
Updating a browser , whether it be Internet Explorer or Firefox, rarely leads to compatibility problems, but there are some exceptions. If you are using Windows 7 64-bit, both the 64-bit and the 32-bit version of Internet Explorer are available. Make sure to run 32-bit IE because the 64-bit version does not support Adobe Flash at this time. That means you won't see any Flash images on Web sites, and most moving images have been programmed in Flash. To check IE, open it, select the help menu and then open "About Internet Explorer." If you find you're running the 64-bit version, go to the Windows start button, open "All Programs" and select IE 32-bit and run it as the default browser.
Occasionally, you may run into a browser plug-in or extension that you'd like to use and it has not been updated to work with the current browser version. You can revert to an older version of the browser.
The Web site oldversion.com offers 50 free versions of Mozilla Firefox dating back to 2004. The only problem with downloading an older version of a browser is that it will override the current version. One workaround to this is to use different browsers concurrently.
IE, Firefox and Chrome can all be installed and run simultaneously, for example. Otherwise, simply reinstall the current version when you've finished with the old one.
Microsoft Office documents
One of the most common compatibility problems occurs between users of Microsoft Office 2003 and the newer Office 2007 (Office 2010 will also be released soon, and this could cause incompatibility problems as well). Simply download the Microsoft's Office Compatibility Pack at Microsoft.com/downloads, restart the computer , and you will be able to both open and edit Office 2007 documents without having to upgrade.
If the problem runs in the reverse for you, remember to save your Office 2007 .docx file in the 2003 .doc format if that is the version your recipient will use to open the document. If you're not an Office user, you can still view Office documents with Microsoft's free download programs such as Office Word Viewer, but you will not be able to edit the documents.
The safest option for sharing files may be to save your document in a Portable Document Format (PDF). This format can be used to capture and save Web pages and any document file type, and it can be viewed on any computers. A PDF file may be read by the recipient, but it may not be modified.
Many computers come with Adobe PDF installed. To create a PDF, open "Print" and open the list of printers where the PDF converter will be listed, if it's there. Just click as if you were actually printing the document or Web page. Choose a location for the PDF in the dialogue box and the file will be there waiting for you. If your computer does not have a PDF converter, download PDFCreator for free at pdfforge.org.
- 5 Easy PC Maintenance Tips
- Time for Millions of Internet Explorer Users to Update Their Browsers
- Beyond the Mouse: 5 Ways We'll Interact With Future Computers