Tech – for Everyone

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

Compatibility Tricks for Old Programs, New Machines

How To Get Old Programs To Work On New Computers

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! Or worse, the game will just freeze in mid-play.

I first noticed this 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, triple, or quad core CPU. These processors weren’t available when these programs were written, and so the programmers 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. tm.jpg

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.exe”.

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”.
If you have a dual-core CPU, two CPU’s will be shown and checked, A quad-core, four.. We want to uncheck all but one… as shown below.


With luck, 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.

See also, Windows 7 – Old Games Won’t Play.. Help! (Updated) for more help.

Today’s free download: There’s a small app called Prio that allows you to “Save” priority and affinity, so you won’t have to set them at each launch.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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June 28, 2009 - Posted by | advice, computers, dual-core processors, Gaming, how to, PC, performance, tech, tweaks, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I have known about Celestia for over 3 years now. Though I do not think that everything(like movements) are perfectly accurate(as .0001 degree makes a BIG difference over time)
    you can also speed up, slow down, or go back in time in that program.


    Comment by Kloplop321 | June 28, 2009

    • Kloplop321,
      This article is a re-posting from mid-2007 (Sunday’s really are my “day off”) and you’re correct in noting that Celestia has been around for a while now.
      It’s a neat little piece of Open Source, though, and anyone curious about the universe and.or astronomy might want to take a look at it.

      From your web browser, you can also use Google’s Sky, and/or my fave, Microsoft’s Worldwide Telescope.


      Comment by techpaul | June 28, 2009

  2. great find on the cpu for running programs. i was unaware.


    Comment by g | June 28, 2009

  3. TechPaul,

    Same as “G”… Was unaware of the “CPU” gear down feature…

    You are absolutely remarkable with this stuff.



    Comment by Ramblinrick | June 28, 2009

    • Rick,
      It resolves a lot of “multi-threading” issues on a range of code, but — as is so often the case — it was video games that led me to this.

      There’s a small app called Prio that allows you to “Save” priority and affinity, so you won’t have to set them at each launch.. hey, maybe I should put that in the article.. (Doh!)


      Comment by techpaul | June 28, 2009

  4. Actually, the more accurately “Three-Finger-Salute” for Taskmgr, would be “Ctrl-Shift-Esc” on XP. But for Vista, I guess you’re correct.


    Comment by Adrian | January 6, 2010

  5. This mode really works!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Comment by Anonymous | April 7, 2010

    • Sir or Ms,
      If you find you must set the “affinity” to get proper behavior, I suggest (again) you use Prio to ‘remember’ your settings.

      Thanks for your support.


      Comment by techpaul | April 7, 2010

  6. can all this done in windows 7 basic?


    Comment by stranger | June 1, 2010

  7. Didn’t work for me. Red Baron II is still WAY too fast :(


    Comment by Chris | August 29, 2010

    • Chris,
      You might try running it in “Compat mode” set to Windows 98, and check all the checkboxes (256 color, etc.) or you might try running it in a VM..

      But Red Baron II was released in 1997 and designed to run on Win95/98.
      1997 .. in computer years, is pre-Jurassic. DOS was still alive and well.

      For my 1st-Gen games, I keep an old P-II Win 98 machine (not connected to the ‘net!!) alive, but a VM (so loaded) might work just as well.. But I have to say, I haven’t fired it up, and played Duke Nukem 3D or Doom or iF-16 in a long, long while.


      Comment by techpaul | August 30, 2010

  8. Hey I can’t change the compatibility settings because my game doesn’t have a desktop icon. I can’t create one because I can’t install the game due to incompatibility. What should I do?


    Comment by Alyssa | March 12, 2011

  9. Hey, I tried installing my old childhood games (Pajama Sam) And when I open it it tells me it can’t run on a 64bit system (I have Windows 7, 64bit) It still tells me that when I try to put it on different compatibility modes, Is there a way to switch to 32 bit?


    Comment by Rian | April 22, 2011

    • Rian,
      It is my sincere belief that people really do not want to wipe their hard drive, and install a 32-bit version of their operating system (if they have one), just so they can play Pajama Sox (or any other game).

      What you may want to do, however, is use another method .. maybe one listed in my newer article — notably DOSBox. See, Windows 7 – Old Games Won’t Play.. Help! (Updated) for more help.

      If DOSBox doesn’t work, you may just have to say bye bye to games that old. 1996 is the Early Jurrasic Period in computer history…


      Comment by techpaul | April 22, 2011

  10. Folks – this post is outdated. See, Windows 7 – Old Games Won’t Play.. Help! (Updated) for more help.


    Comment by techpaul | April 22, 2011

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