Running 16bit Windows program via a browser or some other solution
April 22, 2011 12:20 PM   Subscribe

I have a small simple 16 bit windows application that I need access to from a couple dozen Windows 7 64 bit computers. Unfortunately we lost some of the source code so recompiling it is not in the cards any time soon. Is there a way I can host this app on something like Amazon AWS and give all these users access to run the app via a browser or some other method? Installing VM lite or the windows virtual pc is not an option unfortunately. These users would need access to this program concurrently. The VMWare solutions are far too expensive and the VMLite product that might help we won't be out for some time. Thank you for reading my post. Have a great one.
posted by JohnGL to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
VirtualBox is a free solution which competes with VMware.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:22 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

If it's a copy of Windows 7 x 64 Ultimate/Enterprise/Professional, get thee to Windows XP Mode. 32 bit copy of Windows that will run concurrently to the copy of Windows that is running, and it's tightly integrated. It is a copy of Virtual PC, but I don't really see the reason above why you are counting it out. If you could expand on that, I might have another answer for you.
posted by deezil at 12:32 PM on April 22, 2011

Response by poster: I think the vmlite/windows xp mode solution would be fine however my customer refuses to deal with it and I can't budge them. Thanks again for your time and help. It's greatly appreciated.
posted by JohnGL at 12:56 PM on April 22, 2011

Would it run with dosbox?
depending on the type of app, running it remotely on amazon may not work if it mneeds to access local resources
posted by motdiem2 at 1:08 PM on April 22, 2011

I have a horribly (horribly) kludgy solution. Use VNC or some other similar screen viewing protocol and script the environment so that on connection it only displays the program. In essence it wouldn't be a speedy solution (maybe a dedicated server on site) but there are some decent vnc libraries out there that you could roll your own solution. It goes without saying, but massive bandwidth requirements.
posted by EsotericAlgorithm at 1:12 PM on April 22, 2011

The oldest Windows OS supported on Amazon EC2 is Windows Server 2003 R2. Is the program going to run on that? It's not particularly hard or expensive to setup an EC2 instance for a couple hours to give it a try. Once it's up and running, users would use Windows Remote Desktop to connect to the virtual machine and use the software. It may be somewhat sluggish unless they have fast internet connections. Fancier browser-based solutions are probably out of your budget or are too simple for your case (e.g. no multi-user support).

Keep in mind that Windows on EC2 isn't all that cheap. The smallest Windows server is $0.03 per hour with no commitment (roughly $262.80 for a year). That's a fairly underpowered server though, and the next level up is $0.12/hour ($1051.20/year). You can knock that down somewhat if you pay to reserve an instance for a one or three year term. You'd also need someone who can configure and administer the server, including keeping it patched and managing user accounts.

Windows XP Mode is really what you want because it's an actual Microsoft-supported solution to do precisely what you're looking to do here. Why exactly does your client "refuse to deal with it?" It's also free (iirc) if you're running Windows 7 Professional.

Failing that, if the application is really as small and simple as you say, perhaps it's time to rewrite it?
posted by zachlipton at 1:49 PM on April 22, 2011

You can run applications installed in Windows XP Mode directly from the Windows 7 Start Menu, and it appears as another application running within Windows 7 (no additional desktop/windows installation visible), so it's fairly seamless from the user point of view (some additional overhead in running as it does load a virtual machine in the background).

I know you've said virtual pc isn't an option, but if it's just a matter of users refusing to deal with it, and not permissions, licensing or other more uncompromisable reasons, it makes the whole process invisible and seamless for the user. You can also map local drives to the virtual machine so the application can read and write from your windows 7 installation. If it is for other reasons, then disregard this, but just wanted to point this out.
posted by Boobus Tuber at 3:27 PM on April 23, 2011

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