Who says that WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS doesn’t run on Windows 7 x64? I was tempted to write this blog post with WordPefect, because I once was a great fan of this text processing software. Well, of course it doesn’t run natively on a 64-bit Windows. I used the free DOS emulator DOSBox. I suppose, its main purpose is to run old games on modern operating systems. However, I am pretty sure that there are quite a few legacy DOS programs in productive environments out there. Since Windows XP, the built-in DOS emulator has only limited capabilities. And on 64-bit Windows, you can’t even run 16-bit Windows apps, let alone DOS programs.
Of course, you could use a virtualization solution to run DOS apps, but that might be overkill for some purposes. The DOSBox setup of version 0.73 produced an error message on Windows 7 x64 after the installation. However, it appeared to work smoothly, anyway. The emulator comes with only a couple of DOS commands, which are usually enough to run programs. If you want to have a full blown DOS environment, you can use FreeDOS within DOSBox.
To run external programs in DOSBox, you have to mount a folder on the host with the command “mount c c:\[folder]”. This folder will then be your C drive. To configure settings, such as the screen size or the amount of high memory available to programs (how I miss these good old DOS times), you have to edit the dosbox.conf file. There are a couple of frontends that simplify the configuration.
I must say I was quite fascinated when I played with DOSBox. When I installed WordPerfect, I began to remember how system administration was in those days. The DOS era ended only about 20 years ago, but this environment seems unbelievably primitive compared to today’s information technology. Considering that the development in IT is growing exponentially, it is likely that the next five years or so, will bring comparable innovations to those of the last 20 years. If this is true, Windows 7 will soon be a very primitive OS. But I am sure there will be Windows 7 emulators running somewhere in the cloud or on your watch-sized mobile phone.