Tech – for Everyone

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

Run old programs on a new machine

So you went out and bought a new computer — congratulations! You got a good one, too: it has everything, including a dual-core processor. You have installed your favorite programs, and by that, I mean your games–great!
There’s just one catch — now some of your games misbehave and act like they’re in hyperdrive, everything moves at warp speed, and instead of three bloodthirsty hobgoblins, there’s thirty. You’re getting killed faster than you can press your S key… and that isn’t any fun!
I first noticed it on Battlefield 1942 (the whole series, actually). And then I noticed it on Call of Duty, but not so much on Call of Duty 2. And it was really bad on Quake. It became clear to me that the older the game, the more susceptible to this unplayability it was. 

If this has happened to you, the odds are good you have a dual-core CPU. These processors weren’t available when these programs were written, and so the writers didn’t factor in their ability to process multiple “threads” — basically what’s happening is these new processors are making two (or four) ‘events’ occur at the same time, where they are meant to happen one at a time. But don’t worry… you need not say goodbye to your favorite games!

Tip of the day: Getting older programs to run smoothly on a new machine is just a couple of clicks away. Some of your programs are going to require you to “turn off” one of the ‘cores’ before it will run right. To do this, launch the program and let it load (but don’t start using/playing it yet). Now launch the Windows Task Manager by doing the “three fingered salute”, combination-press the Ctrl+Alt+Del keys (or Start >Run and enter “taskmgr” no quotes). Click on (select) the Processes tab.


This shows a list of all the running processes on your machine, and how much RAM and CPU cycles are being used by each process. I have launched Battlefield 1942, which shows as the top (most recent) process. Right-click on the app that you want to adjust, in our case “BF 1942”.


(To see this larger, click on it) For some reason, the program-to-processor linkage is called “affinity”, so from the menu of choices that appear due to our right-clicking, we want to click on (select) “Set Affinity”. When you have a dual-core CPU, two CPU’s will be shown and checked. We want to uncheck one… as shown below.


Now your program will run like it should. Unfortunately, you must do this each time you want to launch your game/program. Sometimes, the game manufacturer’s will issue a “patch” that will mitigate this issue. Visit their website and look for downloadable “patches” and/or “updates”.

For really old programs and games, you may need to set them to run in something called “compatibility mode“. Mostly these will be items you have left over from your Windows 98 (or Me) days… but if you’re running Vista, you may need to do this for programs that ran fine on XP.

Right-click on the program’s shortcut (desktop) icon and select (click) Properties. Now click on the Compatibility tab, as shown below.


Use the drop-down arrow to select the operating system you would like the program to run in as if it were installed. Here I am telling a Vista machine to run a XP environment, but you may need to set it to “Windows 98”. A little experimentation will determine your best choice.

Today’s free link: There’s a program similar to the 3D Google Earth, except it is focused in space and on the stars (and other celestial bodies). Visit nearby galaxies or fly around the moon with Celestia.

Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul, All Rights Reserved

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August 30, 2007 Posted by | advice, Compatibility Mode, computers, dual-core processors, Gaming, hardware, how to, PC, Task Manager, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | Leave a comment