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NTVDM – NT Virtual DOS Machine

Webopedia Staff
Last Updated May 24, 2021 7:50 am

The NT Virtual DOS Machine (a.k.a WOW, or Windows on Windows), is a Win16 subsystem that runs under Windows NT, which allows 16-bit applications to run as if they were being executed on a DOS machine, with that machine’s multitaskingand segmented memory model.

Because the system is multitasked 16-bit DOS and Windows applications cannot crash NT. However, 16-bit apps within a Win16 subsystem run the exact same way as they do on a DOS/Win 3.x machine; therefore, 16-bit apps within the subsystem can crash one another, or the subsystem. To prevent this, you can launch multiple WOW subsystems as long as your program does not communicate using shared memory.

Windows NT will not allow NTVDM to execute instructions that try to directly manipulate hardware or memorylocations. As a result, some DOS and Windows 3.x applications (such as games) may not run under Windows NT.