Will installing really old software "brick" my computer?
August 4, 2017 4:01 PM   Subscribe

Inexpensive, but my only, laptop runs Win 10. I'm curious about installing software designed for Win 95/NT. Will it brick my machine or make a mess?

I just found a copy of Cakewalk Pro 7 (audio editing software) from 1998. I have a shiny CD and Key. I would love to play around with this but I'm afraid I might make a mess with this computer.

FWIW, I do already have both Reaper and Audacity installed and they're OK. I just want to do a little time travel and see if using this brings back any memories.

Many thanks in advance!!!
posted by snsranch to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
No. It might not work but it shouldn't be able to mess up your whole system and it DEFINITELY shouldn't be able to "brick" your system (which, to me, means messing up the system in an irreversible way).
posted by grouse at 4:04 PM on August 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

My guess is that it probably wouldn't, although I'm not an expert. But if you're worried about it, could you set up a Windows 95 virtual machine?
posted by kevinbelt at 4:07 PM on August 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

About 99% more likely than it bricking your computer would be that it just won't work at all. I wouldn't have any qualms about trying it out.
posted by ryanbryan at 4:12 PM on August 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Might want to create a system restore point beforehand, just in case it tries to do anything funky with MIDI drivers or some such thing.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:12 PM on August 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

OK, thanks guys! I'm going to try it. Will definitely set up a restore point first. Thanks for reminding me about that!
posted by snsranch at 4:41 PM on August 4, 2017

No. Also, Windows these days has a compatibility mode that will try to read the program as if it were an older version of Windows. You can try to run the program both with compatibility mode turned on or off and see if one works better.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:44 PM on August 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

The main thing that would keep Cakewalk Pro from running, although it won't damage your computer, is if it requires a "device driver" for anything. A device driver is a small piece of specialty software that hooks into the core kernel of Windows, and which is used to connect Windows to a hardware device like a MIDI keyboard. In the olden days, this could brick your system if it was written wrong, but since all earlier device drivers were "obsoleted" when Windows Vista came along with its "new, safer device-driver model," the only thing that will happen is that Windows 10 will complain about an obsolete device driver, and simply refuse to install it.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 12:21 AM on August 5, 2017

I run Windows 10 on both a laptop and a workstation. I also run a 1995 release of PSP without any issue.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:54 AM on August 5, 2017

VM is the answer.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:48 PM on August 5, 2017

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