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Getting Older Games to Work on Newer Versions of Windows
Most older PC games will still run on XP with a bit of tweaking that only takes a few minutes. If you have a game that doesn't run in Windows XP, here's how to get it to run. In most cases this should fix the problem, but there is no guarantee that all older games will work with XP.
Find the game's icon on your desktop or start menu, and click your right mouse button on it, then click on properties. This should bring a up a window with a few tabs. Click the Compatibility tab, then tick the box that says 'run this program in compatibility mode for', then select the operating system from the menu. Try Windows 95 or Windows 98, then click on OK. Now try to run your game again.
If this doesn't work, go back and try another earlier operating system. If this still doesn't work, try ticking some of the boxes to force the game to work with less colours or 640x480 screen resolution. If none of this works, try updating your graphics card and sound card drivers to the latest version. It's also worth checking the game publisher's website to see if there is a fix or a patch to make it compatible with newer versions of Windows.
Windows Vista also has a program compatibility mode which works in more or the less same way as above. Click your right mouse button on the game's icon on your desktop or start menu, then click on properties. This should bring a up a window with a few tabs. Click the Compatibility tab, then tick the box that says 'run this program in compatibility mode for', then select the operating system from the menu. In most cases, Windows XP (Service Pack 2) will work. If not, go back and try other operating systems, then try the more advanced settings such as 'Disable Visual Themes' and 'Disable Desktop Composition' to see if the program will now run properly. As above, make sure your drivers are up to date, and check the game maker's website for an update to see if it will make the game compatible with Vista. It's less likey to get older games to work with Vista than with XP.
Windows 7 has a more advanced program compatibility mode for getting older games to work. Right click your mouse on the game's icon, select properties, then click on the Compatibility tab, then choose a previous operating system to try. If this doesn't work try using other settings, such as 'disable visual themes' or 'Disable desktop composition'. You may also need to change the privilege level and run the program as an administrator. Some programs require administrator privileges to run properly.
Also, make sure your graphics and sound card drivers are up to date, and try checking the website of the company that produced the game to see if there is a Windows 7 patch or fix for the game you're trying to play.
Many older games and programs should work using the above methods. Something else you could try is downloading and installing Microsoft Virtual PC 2007. It's free, and it creates a virtual PC with on older operating system for running older games and other software.