Using Visual Studio 2008 IDE with VC++ Toolkit 2003 Compiler

Using Visual Studio 2008 IDE with VC++ 7.1 compiler from Visual Studio 2003

Why you might need to use old compiler like VC++ 7.1?

In my case I needed to compile one app that can even be run on old Windows systems like Windows 95, Windows NT and Windows 98 which is something that Visual Studio 2008 doesn’t support anymore. It turns out that even if you make sure to just use API functions that exist in Windows 95/98 that will not work because VC 2008 will always compile your application to require at least Windows 2000. This will result in older Windows showing something like this: “The your-app-name.exe file expects a newer version of Windows. Upgrade your Windows version.“.


Where can you find Visual C++ Toolkit 2003 package

To get started, you’ll need to install the Visual C++ Toolkit 2003 package, probably older or newer compiler would work the same way so if you already have some other compiler installed you can try with that. Visual C++ Toolkit 2003 is extremely hard to find, all links lead to dead ends on Microsoft website. Updated download link for: Visual C++ Toolkit 2003


How to use old compiler in Visual Studio 2008

You need to create a batch (.bat) file in which you first need to call VCVARS32.BAT file that is included with Visual C++ Toolkit 2003 and then start Visual Studio with “/useenv” switch. You will then use this batch file to start Visual Studio.

Batch file contents:
If you work on 32bit OS:

call "C:\Program Files\Visual C++ Toolkit 2003\vcvars32.bat"
start "" "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\Common7\IDE\devenv.exe" /useenv

If you work on 64bit OS:

call "C:\Program Files (x86)\Visual C++ Toolkit 2003\vcvars32.bat"
start "" "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\Common7\IDE\devenv.exe" /useenv

You also need to change some projects settings, you need to change “Use UNICODE Response Files” to No for compiler and linker. This works for my projects on my computer but depending on how did you setup your project it is possible that you will need to change some more options.

UPDATE 2016-12-25: Updated download link for Visual C++ Toolkit 2003

3 thoughts on “Using Visual Studio 2008 IDE with VC++ Toolkit 2003 Compiler

  1. It’s great.
    However, the link to Visual C++ Toolkit 2003 is unavailable now.
    Would you please tell me the right place to get it.

    Thank you very much.

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