Moving a program from one computer to another

I've made the blanket statement to a client that programs cannot be moved from one computer to another. He has an old XP machine with an obsolete program that he'd like moved to his Windows 7 computer. He's challenged me on the concept that a program can't be moved like this; that it would have to be installed.

But, am I wrong? Are there ways to move programs from between two dissimilar computers?
Bruce CorsonPresidentAsked:
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dbruntonConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Short answer:  It depends.

Long answer:

You can try copying the program's folder across to the second computer and then try running the executable.  Be cautious if copying across a 32 bit application to a 64 bit computer - you'll need to copy to "Program Files (x86)" rather than "Program Files".  Find the executable in that folder and try to run it.

This may or may NOT work.

It depends on lots of factors, whether the program has all of the correct DLLs stored within its own folder, is dependent on existing registry entries, has the correct libraries available to it and if there is no copy protection enabled in the program.  Microsoft Word for example has copy protection and won't run.  It'll know it is on a different computer.

For a commercial application try PCMover
Joe Winograd - EE Fellow & MVEConnect With a Mentor DeveloperCommented:
I've never used it, and I never recommend it to my clients, but I've heard good things about Laplink's PCmover from other experts here on EE:

Note, especially, PCmover Professional for Windows XP:
Transfer all of your selected programs, files and settings from a Windows XP PC to your new Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 PC.

I send this for your consideration, but I recommend fresh installations of all programs when going to a new computer — even from/to the same version of Windows. Regards, Joe
Dave BaldwinConnect With a Mentor Fixer of ProblemsCommented:
I've used PC-Mover but there can be a lot of cleanup required after using it.  It tends to bring a lot of 'permissions' from the old computer to the new one.  They don't match the settings on the new computer of course.
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KCTSConnect With a Mentor Commented:
The problem is that most programs not only create a folder and install their components their, but most installations will make changes to the registry, install and register various DLLs in their own folder and/or the common files folder (or sub folder).

If you are going to move a program from one machine to another you have to locate and move all of the components, including the DLLs, make the appropriate registry entries and register the necessary components properly. In addition many programs may have dependencies on other frameworks such as .net and you will have to repeat the process with these as well.

I most cases it simply is not a practical proposition.
Bruce CorsonPresidentAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all...most are right on. I've had clients whose computer retailer had used PC Mover and it seemed to make the computer misbehave, but this guy is desperate and I'm going to offer it to him as an option.
Would using Windows XP Mode help you?
You can use Microsoft's Disk2vhd to convert the physical XP to a virtual machine for use in Windows 7 Virtual PC.
Some programs only depend on one exe file, and those can normally just be copied to the new PC and they will run. But most of the time you need an installation.

Besides that, if it is such an old program, it will be unlikely that it will even run under a new OS like Windows 7 because of incompatibilities. So chances are that even with a proper installation that it won't run. In such a situation it is best to find a newer program that runs under the new OS that will do the same task. You could also install Windows XP mode (provided the OS is at least Windows 7 Professional) and then install the software there. But as XP is dead anyway and shouldn't used, I don't recommend that, or only as a short term workaround until a replacement software has been found.
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