How do I run old PC games on Windows 10?

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How do I run old PC games on Windows 10?


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How To Play Classic PC Games On Windows 10

Leah J. WilliamsPublished 2 years ago: July 3, 2020 at 8:30 amShare

The unfortunate fact about technology constantly improving is sometimes things we love get left behind.

If you own any classic PC games, its likely many of them no longer work on your machine. This is because Windows 10 is not compatible with older file formats and operating systems. If your favourite game doesnt play anymore, there are a couple of essential workarounds. Heres how you can play classic PC games on Windows 10 without destroying your system.

Run Windows 10 in Compatibility Mode

Image: HOWTECH/YouTube

This solution wont solve all your problems, but it may let you play some of the games on your list.

Windows 10 includes a compatibility mode for older software. This mode essentially emulates an older Windows operating system and allows a program or game to function inside that system.

To run your classic PC games via Windows 10 compatibility mode, follow these steps:

  1. Right click on the .exe, .iso or installation file you want to run
  2. Navigate to the Properties tab
  3. Select the compatibility dropdown menu and choose an older version of Windows
  4. Alternatively, you can hit the Run compatibility troubleshooter button and see whether Windows can take charge for you
  5. Make sure to run the program as administrator

The recommended system for most games is Windows XP (Service Pack 2). While we werent able to test it thoroughly, this operating system appears to be the most compatible with classic games.

If the program still doesnt run after attempting this method (you may get a message indicating your PC simply wont run the game), youll need to turn to a third-party Virtual Machine program to help out.

How to use a Virtual Machine to run Classic PC Games

A virtual machineis an emulator for older operating systems. As mentioned, Windows houses its own emulators via its compatibility mode  but you may still have trouble running games via this system. If youre hitting a wall, you should check out alternative programs that offer the same service.

Oracle VMs VirtualBox was the most straightforward program we tried. Its simple to run and takes less than 20 minutes to set up.

VirtualBox lets you load any version of an operating system you own and install it on your computer as a virtual machine. This basically means you have an .exe launcher that contains any operating system you need. Within that operating system, you can then run any older file you like by mounting it or transferring it via USB.

This does come with a caveat though: you will need a legal version of said operating system to use VirtualBox. If you happen to have an older copy of Windows XP or earlier lying around, youre in luck. If you just have an old serial number, thats okay too.

Youll be able to find a workable .iso of any Microsoft operating system via Microsofts download centre. As long as you still have your original serial key, youll be able to install an older copy of Windows via this method.

From here, youll need to follow the onscreen prompts from VirtualBox including allocating disk space to create your new virtual machine. For detailed installation instructions (or if you get lost during the setup process), this ebook excerpt from Aditya Balapure is essential. It details every basic step youll need to take if VirtualBoxs stepped installation process is too complex.

You can also check out this handy YouTube video:

If VirtualBox doesnt work for you, there are several equally good virtual machine programs you can check out, including:

  • DOSBox (which requires more technical knowledge and some coding)
  • VMWare Workstation (which functions similarly to VirtualBox)
  • VMWare Fusion (a program for Mac computers)

Experimenting with different operating systems may also be necessary to run your game, but make sure to obtain a legal copy of each before you attempt this.

Using these tools, you should be able to get any classic PC game running. Whether its the Microsoft Encarta 94,a trip toThe Moviesor other blasts from the past, there are plenty of classic games that deserve to be revisited on modern PCs using these methods.

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View Comments

  • piratepete says:July 2, 2020 at 1:13 pm

Now I want to go play The Movies again.

  • grunt says:July 3, 2020 at 2:07 pm

That was an underappreciated game but also a whole pain in the proverbial to get running under Win 7/8, and I imagine it will be just as painful under Win 10. From memory (it was a few years ago now) I think I ended up having to use a secondary exe file before it worked.

The proper one just wouldnt load, but one of the others bypassed whatever was stopping it so it worked. Not a hacked exe, but one of the others in the install directory. So if you try to get it running, and keep running into problems after trying the above, remember those other exe's in the folder.

  • djbear says:July 3, 2020 at 2:29 am

VMware works a whole lot better when it comes to games than virtual box. It's integration with graphics hardware is much better.

  • pablo77 says:July 3, 2020 at 5:47 pm

This is actually such fortunate timing.. My mum dropped off an old box of stuff from her place that I had left there years ago and amongst the junk I found my retail CD/DVDs of a ridiculous number of games including Wing Commanders 1, 3, 4 and Prophecy, Last Express, Crusader No Remorse, 7th Guest, Zork Nemesis, Pandora Directive, Blade Runner, Command & Conquer (and Red Alert) and around 20 more..

Time to get cracking..Show more commentsLeave a Comment

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