Windows Vista hasn't changed the world after all, and compatibility issues have been a major concern. But it's often quite simple to get around the conflicts.

1. Vista’s graphics engine is one element guilty of causing compatibility conflicts. Sometimes it will stop programs from installing but, usually, you won’t find out there’s a problem until after the installation is complete. If you’re prompted to check for updates online, this will often rectify the problem.

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2. The Aero interface can also cause problems, preventing some older programs from displaying correctly. However, if you can install the application and launch it then Vista will deal with the problem automatically, switching to the Vista Basic (non-Aero) interface while the program runs.

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3. If the problems are more complex, Vista’s Program Compatibility wizard will usually provide a fix – with the exception of low-level utilities, such as antivirus software. Open the Control Panel and select the Programs icon to access Compatibility mode. This deals with all aspects of running software on your PC.

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4. When you click the Programs icon, you should see a link that reads ‘Use an older program with this version of Windows’. This starts the Program Compatibility Wizard, which will guide you through various features that may prevent your software loading. This doesn’t work with all apps, but it’ll fix the vast majority.

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5. Browse to the problem application or choose it from a list of the programs on your hard drive. Alternatively, select CD-ROM for software that has not yet been installed. Click Next and select the operating system you wish to emulate for this application. You can choose anything from Windows 95 to XP.

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6. The final stage of the wizard offers a series of troubleshooting options to help get a program working. Options include not using themes, running in basic screen mode and, tackling the most likely culprit, the option to disable desktop composition. A program may also require administrator privileges to run correctly.

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See also:

How to ensure software compatibility in XP

How to upgrade your Vista drivers