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Here are a collection of problems and solutions to the various problems I have encountered when trying to install and run old games on Windows 10. It’s important to accept that in some cases I have tried literally everything I can think of and not been able to find a solution. In those cases you can try an emulator, whether that is for an older Windows operating system using a virtual machine, or something like DOSBOX for MS-DOS based programs.

Note: Running in Windows XP compatability mode does not fix everything. In fact, I have had more luck running titles that worked on XP in the early 2000’s by using Windows 98/Me compatibility settings.

How can I run a BBC Micro title on Windows 10?

You can play titles online at bbcmicro.co.uk, JSBeeb or you can download the B-em emulator from RSC that runs on Windows.

How can I run Commodore Amiga titles on Windows 10?

I use an emulator called WinUAE. It is highly configurable and some games will certainly have issues until you find the right settings, especially for CPU and RAM.

How can I run MS-DOS titles on Windows 10?

I use an emulator called DOSBOX. Generally the default configuration works just fine, but you may have to adjust clock speeds or add switches to the run command to enable higher resolution SVGA over VGA. Check the game readme or manual for more information on how to run things the way you want. You can make a folder on your hard drive act like a C drive for DOS and auto-mount it, you can also mount your PCs real CD drive as an emulated drive.

Windows won’t run the game or install exe due to age

In some cases this means you can try using Windows 95 or 98 compatibility mode, but occasionally it means that title may need an emulator like DOSBOX and to be run in an even earlier environment. If you know the age of the file you can try to guess which solution works best, as for example a title released in 2000 may not run in Windows XP (released in 2001).

You can also try renaming the file from .exe to .zip. Some installers were (and still are) simply packaged zip files. Once unzipped you may find the game runs just fine (even if with a little more compatibility tweaking).

Windows runs the setup/installer, I see it in the task manager, but nothing happens

Most of the time this is due to the wait chain, especially if you see the setup.exe doing nothing in the task manager. Other times I have needed to run the setup in admin mode, or even with compatibility mode set for earlier versions of Windows.

Game has installed, but nothing happens when I try to run it

This is the biggest problem you will come across with games from the early 2000’s and it’s very difficult to figure out what the problem is. Sometimes you just need to run as Administrator so it has the rights to do what it was able to do in the older operating system, other times it needs a compatibility mode set to an older version of Windows for the same reason.

Often the graphics pipeline the software used (3DFX, older versions of DirectX) no longer exists. Occasionally that can be fixed by running in Software mode (so your CPU does the work) but I would usually recommend using dgVoodoo and/or nGlide which basically interrupt the older games calls to those graphics pipelines and give you an emulated/configurable one it will use instead.

Software protection was a thing (as it still is with Steam DRM, etc), but unfortunately Starforce, Securom, etc, no longer function on most of the old games. The problems this causes range from endlessly being asked to restart so they can be installed to the software simply not doing anything when you run it. Generally your only solutions here are to bypass the copy protection. Occasionally a developer has supported their product long enough to remove it and provide a plain exe, but most of the time you end up visiting some shady site and taking a risk.

Another common issue is Windows Live, which was a Microsoft service that worked with some games. You usually need to replace a few fixed DLL files to allow the games to operate without it trying to open. F1 2011 is an example title requiring this fix.

32bit is generally dead these days in terms of operating system, but a vast amount of software still runs on it. Be aware that 32bit software can only use a combined 4GB of memory, and most of them will let you choose settings that try to use more than that. Try lowering your graphical settings, number of opponents, etc.

Starting with Windows Vista there were changes in DirectSound that mean many games developed before that will experience problems from the lack of EAX effects. I’ve had success using IndirectSound to emulate the audio hardware acceleration on Windows 10.

The game runs, but something happens that isn’t normal

You’re going to have to search. Solutions I have found on decades old forums range from hex editing the executable to deleting one wav file that didn’t play and caused the software to crash. Generally if I have had something specific happen like this I have mentioned how I fixed it on each simulation profile page.

How complicated can this get?

One of the most interesting solutions I worked out was for NASCAR SimRacing. This involved taking an exe from a different game to create a configuration file that NSR could use in order to run, along with a specific set of steps that had to be followed, configuration and compatibility options that had to be set, and a set of steps required every time you want to run the game in the future. There were other solutions around, but they involved editing the files and I let the executables do the work.

Can I make games look better than they ever did?

Yes! Using dgVoodoo I have run games that had a maximum 4:3 ratio resolution of 640×480 in 4k (2880×2160). You can also use tools like dgVoodoo to force antialiasing and other graphical enhancements, something you can often do in the AMD/NVIDIA control panel as well. Remember that you’re always going to be limited by the resolution of the original texture! If it was a low resolution texture at 640×480 you’ve enlarged it and maybe made it more noticeable. Check out that steering wheel:

About RSC

Back from the ashes since July, 2019. First created in 2001 with the merger of Legends Central (founded 1999) and simracing.dk.

A site by a sort of sim racer, for sim racers, about racing sims. News and information on both modern and historic sim racing software titles.

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