Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Windows 7 – Old Games Won’t Play.. Help! (Updated)

5 6 Methods For Getting Old Programs To Run On New Computers

This article is an updated and improved version of  Windows 7 – Old Games Won’t Play.. Help!, a “reader question” article that has proven quite popular. It seems quite a few people want their 12-year old, 16-bit, Gen 1 games to play on latest generation, 64-bit machines, (I don’t blame them) but it doesn’t always work. Here are some tips for solving the problem. They are in the appropriate order, IMHO. (These work in Vista as well.)

1) Turn off “hardware acceleration”. A common cause of errors and “playability issues” is the old games’ use (or lack of) of hardware “acceleration”, which is referring to the “video card”, or more accurately, the graphics driver. Most graphics drivers allow you to turn off the hardware acceleration (which may resolve your issue).
Click Start in the lower left corner of Windows.
Click Control Panel, click Appearance and Personalization, click Personalization, click Display Settings, and then click Advanced Settings.
Click the Troubleshoot tab, and then click Change Settings.Move the Hardware Acceleration slider until it is one notch to the right of None. This is the basic acceleration setting.
Click OK twice, and then close the window.
Restart the computer.

[you can also get there via the graphic adapter's Properties in Device Manager]

Graph_Acc

[Note: Change Settings will be disabled if the graphics card drivers do not support disabling hardware acceleration. You may need to check the video card manufacturer's website, and download the latest driver.]

2) You may need set the troublesome games to launch in “Compatibility Mode”, and tell them to run under Windows XP SP2. This article, http://techpaul.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/compatibility-tricks-for-old-programs-new-machines/ shows you how. The “Compat Mode” section is about half way down the page.

3) You might need to try repeating Step 2, but this time install directly to your C:\ drive (by default, Windows will install programs to C:\Program Files or C:\Program Files(x86) folder) using the “Custom install” option during set up. This will eliminate some of the Permissions issues that keep older programs from running correctly.

4) You may also – if the game is old enough – need to turn off all but one CPU core. This is called “setting the affinity”. Also see, Compatibility Tricks for Old Programs, New Machines. If this resolves your issue, the article includes a download for a tool to make this setting ‘stick’.

5) For really old, DOS-based games, install DOSBox. DOSBox is a great tool, especially for old games. I would suggest reading the tutorial, here: http://www.dosbox.com/wiki/DOSBoxShortcuts#Windows

6) Though I view this as a bit of a ‘last resort’, you can install a “virtual machine” and run the game in there.
* If you have the Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate edition of Windows 7, you can download XP Modewhich is really Virtual PC – for free. If you have other editions of Windows, grab Virtual PC 2007 from the same place.
* Perhaps a better alternative is using VMWare Server (free), from www.vmware.com/products/server. I have read that the VMWare handles the hardware acceleration better.

In both cases, you’ll have to supply the copy of (old) Windows yourself, and install it (into the “virtual machine”) from scratch.

… I hate to say, but it is possible that you may try all these things and get unsatisfactory results. I keep an old Pentium II machine (Windows 98) around just for playing those old games (which I wouldn’t dream of connecting to the Internet!). The games play best on the hardware/OS of their day. You might need to do the same. Or.. say goodbye to your old friends.

Progress!

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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January 25, 2011 - Posted by | advice, Compatibility Mode, computers, device drivers, Gaming, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, software, tech, troubleshooting, tweaks, Virtual Machine, Vista, Windows, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14 Comments »

  1. Paul,
    Thats really a very nice article. One of the most common questions being asked here and there.
    And by the way, VirtualBox is also a good alternative and free. May be you’d like to add it to the list too.

    Comment by Ranjan | January 26, 2011 | Reply

    • Ranjan,
      I thank you, sir.

      In my earlier articles (and answers) on this topic, I stated my preference for not using a virtual machine to play games (mainly due to performance issues), and I consider VM’s a topic for “advanced users” as there is a learning curve. (Gamers tend to be more advanced than the “average” user, though..) I wrote about VM’s in some of my first articles, before I knew any better, and received much the same response I would if I went into a 1st Grade classroom and started talking about algebra…

      However, VirtualBox is also free, and a possible alternative to Virtual PC and VMWare. I know many folks prefer it. The homepage is here, http://www.virtualbox.org/.

      Comment by techpaul | January 26, 2011 | Reply

  2. Hey Pls don’t call me Sir. Your older and quite knowledgeable than me.
    Regarding the performance issues, won’t a dos game just run fine in a VM? I think it’ll.

    Comment by Ranjan | January 26, 2011 | Reply

    • Ranjan,
      Okay. I won’t call you “sir”.

      Some games will perform just fine in a VM, and others will need some tweaking. Others, like.. first person shooters and flight simulators, might not at all..
      All you can do is try it.

      Comment by techpaul | January 26, 2011 | Reply

  3. Hello. I use

    Comment by Hi | August 29, 2012 | Reply

  4. Have an older game called The Last Resort – 9- love it to death and never have finished it. wuold love to run it in windows 7 is this possable/

    Comment by Lou Christie | October 12, 2012 | Reply

    • Lou Christie,
      Um.. I have no idea. Looks like it was not DOS-based, but ran from the CD and used QuickTime for the video? (So many [most?] of these tips will not help.)

      All I could say is try it. Maybe.. create a Windows 95 (or 98) virtual machine.. and play it inside there?
      Really no idea. Sorry I cannot be more helpful. 1996 is, well, equivalent to late Triassic/early Jurassic and I don’t know how much effort I would put into revisiting that old friend…

      Comment by techpaul | October 12, 2012 | Reply

    • I have been reinstalling a lot of my games to Win7 so I know all about this..

      What I have been doing… (Make sure you have the CD and install QuickTime according to Paul.) I use ToolWiz Time Freeze | ToolWiz Software(this is free) before I try to install a game…It’s like a sandbox..If you have a problem with the install, you reboot the PC and the install is gone. If it works you can tell it to keep the change. I try a straight install and if that doesn’t work, I use Compatibility mode.

      Good luck.I have been lucky so far..That have all worked.

      Comment by delenn13 | October 13, 2012 | Reply

      • delenn13,
        If all you have needed is Compat Mode.. yes, you’ve been lucky.

        And there’s nothing wrong with that!

        Comment by techpaul | October 13, 2012 | Reply

        • Well, I have had to do a few tricks I know plus I used my old friends tut about DOSBox How to use Norton’s Commander in DosBox to play games but I was trying to help Lou.

          Comment by delenn13 | October 13, 2012 | Reply

          • delenn13,
            Hopefully, my article contains those tricks..

            I view VM’s and DOSbox as “method of last resorts”, and, I think, one would really have to love the old game to go through the trouble (and for most people, learning curve). But as I wrote in Reflections of, sometimes.. it’s better to leave those happy memories of games just that..

            For those who do want to keep that cherished game, DOSbox is a great tool, and your referred tutorial will help those who need to learn it, thank you.

            Comment by techpaul | October 13, 2012 | Reply

            • Some of my tricks are in a “grey area”, plus I have friends and a game mentor…..and tons and tons of forums

              There is also The Emulator Zone – MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) etc…

              Comment by delenn13 | October 14, 2012 | Reply

              • delenn13,
                Ah, yes. MAME. For those trying to relive the glory days of the Sega (and Nintendo), or who just want a game console experience, that’s the ticket.

                Comment by techpaul | October 14, 2012 | Reply


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