Run 16-Bit Program Across Network

Okay I’ll admit it. I have a hard time upgrading programs when the old version is working well.

I have a 1995-era time tracking program from KMR Consulting called Timeclock that I still use. I run it across the network from my Windows XP SP3 and 32-bit Windows 7 machines. However after changing the host from SBS 2003 to SBS 2008, the 16-bit reporting module gives me this message:

Can’t run 16-bit Windows program
Cannot find file L:\TimeClock\Timeclk.mcb\TCREPORT.EXE (or one of this components).

But why does changing the host file system matter?

After some research, I discovered the likely culprit:  apparently 8.3 file names are disabled by default under SBS 2008. This registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem\NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation

is set to 1 (see this TechNet article).

I don’t really want to change that default just for one program, and I’d rather not run the file locally on my XP machine.

So the 16-bit program is unhappy about missing 8.3 file names. But why? Everything is still in 8.3 format. Unless…aha! I had named the root path L:\TimeClock. By shortening that to L:\TimeClk, I’m able to run the program across the network again.

Of course the more elegant solution would be to upgrade to a 32-bit version of the program that understands long file names. A little digging in my electronic archives turned up TimeClock version 1.2, which included 32-bit versions of the tracking and reporting programs. Now I’m caught up to 1996 anyway.

2 thoughts on “Run 16-Bit Program Across Network

  1. John Barlow

    I hope it is possible to do the same for my software. I have a 16 bit stand along software that has done just fine until win 7 64. I know you can go pro, install virtual windows and virtual XP but then you also have to reload printers and anti-virus software. That is a lot to ask of clients. So I hope to find a hosting solution. Since it is possible to install and run on a 32 bit system is it possible to have that system “Hosted” and viewed by 64 bit systems? Do you know of any other work-arounds?

    Thank you very much, John

  2. Mark Berry Post author

    John, as far as I know, normally a 64-bit system can run 32-bit or 16-bit software. Where I got tripped up above was that I was trying to use file names longer than 8 characters. If that’s not your issue, it would take a lot more info and testing to diagnose your situation and look for solutions. I’m available by the hour :).

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