Setting Up WordPerfect 5.1 on Windows 7 x64

Jobby has to get WordPerfect 5.1 working on Windows 7 for someone. Luckily he documented it and shares the process here …

DOS Programs on Windows 7

I was recently asked to get WordPerfect 5.1 working on 64-bit Windows 7 for someone who was having to give up Windows XP because of Microsoft’s looming end of support.

For those that don’t realise, WordPerfect 5.1 is a DOS program that dates back to about 1989. Windows 7 won’t play nicely with DOS programs as it isn’t really using DOS anymore. So to get WordPerfect working took a bit of research and experimentation.

Most of these instructions were taken from http://www.columbia.edu/~em36/wpdos/wpdosbox64.html but since that is such a wordy and difficult to understand website I’ve distilled the instructions into the following.
You will need a licensed copy of WordPerfect 5.1 to make these instructions work.

Hope they help – enjoy!

The Instructions

  1. Download WP-64.zip from http://dl.dropbox.com/u/271144/WP-64.zip
  2. Create a folder called WP-64 in the root of the user’s folder. E.g. For user abc123 create the folder in C:\Users\abc123
  3. Extract the contents of WP-64.zip to this new folder.
    This will place three folders and three files in this folder.
  4. Open the WP-64 folder.
  5. Open the WPfor64bit folder.
  6. Open the folder named VirtualHD.
  7. Copy these files from your copy of WordPerfect into the WP51 folder: wp.exe, wp.fil and wp.com (the last only if you have WP 5.1 Plus).
  8. Create a shortcut on the desktop to WP51 for 64bit.cmd. This file is found in the WP-64 folder.
  9. Double click a shortcut to run that version of WPDOS.
  10. After closing WPDOS it’s possible a DOS window will still be open. Type exit and hit Return to close the window.

Note that when running WordPerfect like this, you will only be able to open documents saved in C:\Users\[username]\WP-64\DOCS. This is because this process runs WordPerfect in a virtual machine and that folder is the only bit of the hard drive which it sees.

4 thoughts on “Setting Up WordPerfect 5.1 on Windows 7 x64

    1. Got to admit that I’d never heard of TameDOS. However, looking at the Tame website it seems that it and DOSBox are both answers to the same problem: how to run DOS programs under the newer Windows?
      I guess you wouldn’t run both at the same time for the same program but I can’t see any reason why you couldn’t have both installed on the same machine, potentially running different programs.
      Hope that helps!

      1. TAME (last time I looked) runs ordinarily only for Windows versions up to XP (and it increases speed, etc., wonderfully for running WP5.1 under XP!). I guess my query was really if the DropBox solution you describe created, in effect, a Windows XP (or earlier) environment where TAME could run.

        I tried the columbia.edu site’s tailored DOSbox solution, and got nowhere with it. I didn’t try the *un*tailored version because the instructions were pretty opaque. (I assume that’s the version you’re dealing with in your description above.) You’ve inspired me to give it a go!

        I read recently that George RR Martin still uses WordStar 4.0, and has to run two computers — one for writing, one for the rest. I may be reduced to that. Trouble is, I write nonfiction as well as fiction, so that things like grabbing URLs for references could become a real PITA.

        1. I’m sure I was using the columbia.edu’s tailored DOSbox solution. Sorry to hear it didn’t work for you, maybe with a bit of tinkering you’ll have some luck?

          I’d also heard that thing about George RR Martin running WordStar 4.0. I can see having a two computer setup would be a royal pain for you if you need to be grabbing URLs. As it happens, I had to get this early version of WordPerfect working in Windows 7 for somebody who is quite a respected chap in his field, like GRRM (and maybe you?) he is so used to using this type of word processing program and isn’t interested in learning MS Word as it is too bloated for him. I guess some people prefer the lean, mean programs of olden times! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *