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"Can't run 16-bit Windows Program" Installation Error



During installation an error message appears saying "Can't run 16-bit Windows Program. Cannot find file..."



The 16-bit components of the InstallShield software used for installation of old software may exhibit this problem on operating systems where the creation of short file names has been disabled (e.g. by setting the NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation registry value to 1).

This problem may be solved by moving the setup file to a location which does not use long names in its path components (e.g. the root of drive C) and running it from there. If this does not solve the problem, a change to a registry value is required.

The NTFS file system (introduced in Windows NT and widely used in later versions of Windows, including Windows 11) automatically creates 8.3 "short" file names and stores them along with the NTFS "long" name. Although the short names are not visible when you browse the file system, they are present, and you may see them in some path values stored in the system registry, or displayed in setup programs. This duplication, which only affects long file and directory names, results in a slightly increased overhead when creating a new file or directory, however it is required for compatibility with older applications. Unfortunately even some newer programs, released well after the introduction of "long" file names on Windows, rely on support for short file names in order to be compatible with the widest possible range of operating systems and file systems. This includes the InstallShield software used by non-current versions of Cloanto applications which did not yet use Windows Installer (MSI) technology.

Please note that x64 versions of Windows, Windows Vista and later versions of Windows (including Windows 11) do not include a 16-bit subsystem. The 16-bit components described in this article will not work on these versions of Windows.

Warning - Please read the following article before proceeding:

The creation of 8.3-compliant short names on NTFS partitions is controlled by a registry value, which by default is set to enable the creation of short names.

If the following value is set to 1 then short file names are not created:


If the value is missing, or set to 0, then short file names are created:


A reboot is required for the change to fully take effect. The change has no effect on existing files and directories (it only affects new writes). To create short names for files and directories which are already on the hard disk it is necessary to force this data to be rewritten, e.g. with a backup/restore.

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Article Information
Article ID: 14-131
Platform: Windows
Products: No current products
Additional Keywords: None
Last Update: 2008-10-25
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