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How to use the Compatibility Administrator utility in Windows

Support for Windows Server 2003 ended on July 14, 2015

Microsoft ended support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

This article was previously published under Q317510
This article describes how to use the Compatibility Administrator utility that is included in the latest Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit for Microsoft Windows. Compatibility Administrator is a tool that includes prepackaged fixes that provide an easy way to fix a program that may not run correctly under Windows.

How to obtain the Compatibility Administrator tool

The Compatibility Administrator utility is included in latest Application Compatibility Toolkit. To install the latest Application Compatibility Toolkit, follow these steps:
  1. Open a Web browser window, and then visit the following Microsoft Web site:
  2. Locate and then click the Download ACT 5.0 link.
  3. Click Download, and then click Save to save the Application Compatibility Toolkit.msi file to your computer.
  4. Click Close when the file is downloaded successfully.
  5. Double-click the Application Compatibility Toolkit.msi file to start the Application Compatibility Toolkit installation wizard.

    Note You must have Microsoft .Net Framework 1.1 or later versions installed on the system to install the Application Compatibility Toolkit.
  6. Click Next, and then follow the instructions to install the Application Compatibility Toolkit.

Overview of the Compatibility Administrator tool

You can use the Compatibility Administrator tool to quickly apply various program fixes (AppFixes, also known as "shims") to a program to determine their effectiveness. Compatibility Administrator reads the %SystemRoot%\AppPatch\Sysmain.sdb database file to produce a list of available fixes. When you select an AppFix, you can start the program executable (.exe) file, and the AppFix is applied. If a suitable AppFix is found, the tool eventually helps you generate and test matching file information.

By default, the Compatibility Administrator utility is stored in the following location:
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Windows Application Compatibility Toolkit 5
When you start the Compatibility Administrator tool, you see the following items:
  • The System Database\Applications node contains the programs to which you want to apply the fix.
  • The System Database\Compatibility Fixes node contains the individual fixes that you want to apply to programs.
  • The System Database\Compatibility Modes node contains the following supported compatibility modes for programs:
    256 Color
    LUA (Limited User Account)

Example of how to use the Compatibility Administrator tool

  1. Start Notepad, and then click About Notepad on the Help menu.

    Note On Windows Server 2003-based computers and on Windows Vista-based computers, the version is 5.2. On Windows XP SP2-based computers, the version is 5.1.
  2. Click OK, and then close Notepad.
  3. Start Compatibility Administrator. To do this, Click Start, point to Programs, point to Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0, and then click Compatibility Administrator.
  4. In the Compatibility Administrator window, click New.
  5. On the Database menu, point to Create New, and then click Application Fix.
  6. In the Name of the program to be fixed box, type Notepad.
  7. In the Name of the vendor for this program box, type Microsoft.
  8. In the Program file location box, type the location of the Notepad.exe file.

    Note Click Browse to search the Notepad.exe file if you do not know the location. The default path of Notepad.exe is %Systemroot%\System32\Notepad.exe.
  9. Click Next.
  10. Under Operating System Modes, click Microsoft Windows 95, and then click Next.
  11. On the Compatibility Fixes page, click Next.
  12. Click Auto-Generate to automatically select the files the Compatibility Administrator recommends to represent the program, and then click Finish. The Compatibility Administrator adds your compatibility modes, fixes, and matching information to your custom database, and the information appears in the details pane.
  13. In the navigation pane, click Notepad, click Run from the toolbar, and then click OK.
  14. On the Help menu, click About Notepad.

    Note You will see that the version is 4.0.
  15. Click the newly created database, and then click Save.
  16. In the Database Name box, type Notepad as the database name, and then click OK.
  17. In the Save in drop-down list, locate and open the %SystemRoot%\AppPatch folder.
  18. In the File name box, type Notepad, and then click Save. You will see that a new database named Notepad.sdb is created.
  19. On the File menu, click Exit to close Compatibility Administrator.
For more information about the Compatibility Administrator tool, see the "Using the Compatibility Administrator" section in the Help file that is available in the C:\Program Files\Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit 5 folder.

For more information about Application Compatibility, visit the following Microsoft Web site: For more information about the Application Compatibility toolkit, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
294895 How to obtain the Windows Application Compatibility Toolkit

Article ID: 317510 - Last Review: 12/03/2007 04:30:16 - Revision: 7.2

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Standard Edition
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