How to play old Windows games on Windows 10

By | 1 April 2021

Do you like to play (or play again) to old Windows games but you experience problems running them on Windows 10? Don’t worry, using the following methods you can play them without any issue.

Use a virtual machine

This is the best method to run old Windows games but requires time and skills.
VirtualBox and VMWare are virtualization software that allows you to create virtual machines and install old Windows operating systems on them.
You can download Windows 95, Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows XP SP-3 ISOs on Archive.org, the biggest digital library on Internet.
There are many tutorials on web that explains how to create virtual machines and install the old Windows OS.

Once you have your virtual machine ready and running you just need to mount the disc images of the games in the virtual CD unit of VirtualBox or VMWare and install them or copy all the files of the games in the virtual machine and launch the setup.

Use Windows 10 Compatibility Mode

The Compatibility Mode allows you to run older programs with Windows 10, so also the games, but it isn’t guaranteed that it always works.
Once you have installed the game you just need right click on the game executable and click Properties, then open Compatibility tab.
Here you can choose the Windows version to make the .exe compatible (from Windows 95 up to Windows 8), also check “Run the program as an administrator”, then you can try start the game.
If it doesn’t work you can try other settings like use 640 x 480 screen resolution and disable fullscreen optimizations.

Use DirectPlay feature on Windows 10

Enabling this feature that isn’t installed by default let you enhance compatibility with old games on Windows 10.

To enable DirectPlay feature open the Windows Control Panel, click Programs and Features and finally on Turn Windows features on or off.
Double-click Legacy Components to expand it, then select the DirectPlay checkbox and confirm with OK, Windows will install the component.

It’s also possible to install this feature directly from command line. Open a Windows console as Administrator and type:

DISM /online /enable-feature /all /featurename:DirectPlay

followed by the command:

DISM /online /get-featureinfo /featurename:DirectPlay

Use DxWnd

DxWnd is a software that allows programs running in a window instead of fullscreen, it is tipically very useful to run old windows games.
You just need to decompress the archive in afolder and launch the program executable with admin rights.
A blank window will appear.
The program already includes profiles for many games, you just need to click File then Import… to import them (.dxw configuration files are inside the export folder).
A game icon will be added to the program window.
Before run it you must modify the path and insert that one where you installed the game, to do it right click over the icon and choose Modify, then right click and Run and you are done.
If there isn’t a profile for a game that you installed you just need to drag and drop the game executable inside DxWnd window and modify the settings.

Use dgVoodoo2

dgVoodoo2 consists of components substituting the implementations of various graphics API’s like 3Dfx Glide and Microsoft DirectX up to version 9.
It has no installer and its usage is intended to be drop-in: just copy the graphics API dll’s from dgVoodoo package next to your game/application executable and run it. You need a graphics card supporting DX10.0 as a minimum.
In the FAQ it’s explained what exactly to copy and how to change the dgVoodoo2 configuration.
The default configuration should work with most games but you can try different setup using the executable you can find inside the archive.
Once you have copied the needed dll in the folder where you have installed the game open the dgVoodoo2 control panel, and as config folder set the same game folder. There are 3 tabs:

  • General: here you can change Output API settings, adapter to use/enable, fullscreen or window mode, etc…
  • Glide: here you can change 3Dfx Glide related settings
  • DirectX: here you can change DirectX related settings

Then click Apply to use the customized configuration.

Use WineD3D

WineD3D per Windows is a DirectX 1-11 to OpenGL wrapper based on WineD3D.
Even if Windows supports DirectX natively, using WineD3D can enhance backwards compatiblity with older games.
It works like dgVoodoo2.
There isn’t an installer, you just need to copy the dlls inside the game folder (inside the archive of WineD3D you can find a README file that explain which dlls to copy based on the DirectX versions of the games).

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