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Installing ACT! 6 in Windows 8


If you have Windows 7 you need to read “Installing ACT! 6 in Windows 7”


First, let me say that ACT! 6 was an excellent product and, like Windows XP, lasted long beyond its expected retirement date. There are still people using it, despite pleas, recommendations, and even financial inducements to upgrade to later versions.

A lot has changed since 2002 when ACT! 6 was launched, and the change continued beyond 2007 when official vendor support for the product ceased. The major change has been the replacement of Windows XP (released in 2001) by later operating systems – Vista (2005), Windows 7 (2007), and Windows 8 (2012). Microsoft ceased all support, including security updates, for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. Any computer you buy today will have Windows 8 on it.

The problem for people who want to continue to use ACT! 6 is that the installation program will not work with Windows 7 or 8, so even if you have the CD and the registration codes the program can’t be installed. (If you upgrade Windows on a machine running ACT! 6 from XP to Windows 8 ACT! 6 might continue to work properly, but this cannot be guaranteed.) Installation in a later operating system requires the use of what is known as a “virtual machine”. Microsoft, probably quite reasonably, don’t want to make it easy for people to continue using obsolete operating systems.

There are several options for creating a virtual machine, but I am only going to mention two of them. One thing I must emphasise – follow the instructions to see if your computer can run a virtual machine before you do anything else. If it can’t do that there is no point continuing and your only option is to upgrade to the latest version of ACT!. Instructions for doing this test can be found where you download the software.

Client Hyper-V from Microsoft

Hyper‑V lets you run more than one 32-bit or 64-bit x86 operating system at the same time on the same PC, by running them inside a virtual machine. Hyper‑V replaces Windows Virtual PC in Windows 7. Installation details can be found here. Please note that you require a 64-bit installation of Windows 8 and at least 4 gigabytes of RAM.

VMware Player

Unlike Hyper-V, VMware Player can be installed in a 32-bit version of Windows. It is free for non-commercial use, but as you will be using this to host a database which is critical to your business I strongly recommend that you pay the small fee to allow business use. Hardware requirements are less stringent than for Hyper-V (32-bit Windows, 1 gigabyte RAM), so any computer that can run Windows 8 comfortably should be suitable. You can download VMware Player here.

Installing Windows XP

Once you have created a virtual machine you need to install an operating system. To do this you will need the installation media for Windows XP and a valid registration code. For Hyper-V this must be Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 3. It’s a bit difficult to find the exact compatibility for VMware Player but it is safe to assume the same; it must be installed into a 32-bit version of VMware, not 64-bit even if the host computer supports this. Note that this must be a disk for original installation onto a clean machine, not an upgrade disk. The upgrade will probably appear to install correctly but the registration code will be rejected, and there is no legal way you can obtain a valid code. Also, your installation disks will probably not include Service Pack 3 and whatever is installed will not be able to be updated as Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft. As no security updates are available either, your installation of Windows XP will only be as secure as the operating system was when the disk was manufactured, and this could have been some years ago.

Installing ACT! 6

When you have a Windows XP virtual machine running you can move on  to the next step. You will need an ACT! 6 installation CD and a serial number. If you can’t find your CD you can download a copy here. Install ACT! 6 from the CD (or a folder on your server), map the path to where the database is stored, and start using the program. If your data files are not on a server which is being backed up regularly and you choose to copy the database into a folder on the virtual machine, you must ensure that the file containing the virtual machine is put somewhere where it is backed up.

If you want help with this or training in any aspect of ACT!, please feel free to contact Gebesse through the links on our main web site.

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2 thoughts on “Installing ACT! 6 in Windows 8

  • Ross Ryan says:

    I used a virtual XP machine when I moved from XP to Win 7 but it was rather slow. Then I read that you could run it on Win 7 if you simply ran the exe file directly from the CD rather that the auto loader. Worked a treat! Anyone tried a similar method with Win 8?

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