Troubleshoot desktop apps on Surface

Get help with common issues running desktop apps on Surface Pro models, Surface Book, and Surface 3.

Applies to

Surface Book, Surface Pro 4, Surface Pro 3, Surface 3, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro.

Applies to

Surface Pro 3, Surface 3, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro.

Operating system:

I need help installing a desktop app

Surface Pro models, Surface Book, and Surface 3

If you’re having problems installing a desktop app on your Surface Pro model, Surface Book, or Surface 3, try these solutions.

Check if your app needs an update

To see if you need to install an update for your app or change its settings, do the following:

Step 1: Go to Start Windows logo, and enter security.
Step 2: In the search results, select Security and Maintenance.
Step 3: Follow the on-screen instructions to resolve any problems.

I need help with desktop-app compatibility

Most desktop apps written for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 also work in Windows 10, but some older apps may run poorly or not at all. If an older app doesn’t run correctly, run the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter. Here's how:

Warning
Don’t run the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter on antivirus programs, firewall software, backup software, disk utilities, or system programs that came with Windows. This might cause data loss or create a security risk.
Step 1: Select the search box in the taskbar, enter run programs, and in the search results, select Run programs made for previous versions of Windows.
Step 2: In the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter, select Next and follow the on-screen instructions.

A desktop app doesn’t display or respond correctly

Feature enhancements in Windows 10 improve how text and desktop apps scale with high resolution displays. Updating to the latest version of Windows 10 can fix display scaling problems for many apps. See Install Surface and Windows updates.

Note

If you're already using the latest version of Windows 10 and you're having display problems, see How do I fix desktop app display issues?

I need help with other desktop-app problems

Install Surface and Windows updates

Installing the latest Surface and Windows updates can fix some problems with desktop apps. For more info, see Install Surface and Windows updates.

Check with the publisher of your desktop app

Check with the publisher of your desktop app to see if you are running the latest version of the app and to find out about any known issues with running your app on Surface.

Here's how to locate and contract the app publisher for help:

Step 1: Select the search box in the taskbar, enter programs, and in the search results, select Programs and Features.
Step 2: In the list of installed programs, select the name of your app and make note of the publisher listed.
Step 3: In the bottom section, see if there is a “Help link” or “Support Link.”

I need help installing a desktop app

Surface Pro models and Surface 3: See Get your apps and devices working with Windows 8.1 for help with desktop-app installation issues.

Surface RT and Surface 2: Only built-in apps and apps that you download from the Windows Store will run on Surface RT and Surface 2. If you get the error message “This app can’t run on your PC. To find apps for your PC, open the Windows Store,” you may be trying to install an app from somewhere other than the Windows Store.

I need help with desktop-app compatibility

Most desktop apps written for Windows 7 also work in Windows 8.1, but some older apps may run poorly or not at all. If an older app doesn’t run correctly, run the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter. Here's how:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap Search.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and click Search.)
Step 2: Tap or click the arrow above the search box, and tap or click Settings.
Step 3: In the search box, enter compatibility, and in the search results, tap or click Run programs made for previous versions of Windows.
Step 4:In the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter, tap or click Next, and follow the on-screen instructions.

See Windows Compatibility Center and click Apps to learn more about which desktop apps are known to be compatible with Windows 8.1 and your Surface Pro and Surface 3. To find more info to help you get your apps working, see Get your apps and devices working in Windows 8.1.

A desktop app doesn’t display or respond correctly

Feature enhancements in Windows 8.1 improve how text and desktop apps scale with high resolution displays. Updating from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 can fix display scaling problems for many apps. For more info, see Update to Windows 8.1 on Surface.

Note
If you're already using Windows 8.1 and you're having display problems, see Get the best display on your monitor.

I need help with other desktop-app problems

Install Surface and Windows updates

Installing the latest Surface and Windows updates can fix some problems with desktop apps. For more info, see Install Surface and Windows updates.

Check with the publisher of your desktop app

Check with the publisher of your desktop app to see if you are running the latest version of the app and to find out about any known issues with running your app on Surface.


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