View Full Version : Running 16-bit installers

05-04-2013, 04:49 PM
Hello friends. I have a number of old games that I played on Windows 95/98 that I cannot play on my current 64-bit operational systems (old Oregon Trail games, Odell Down Under, etc) because I can't run the 16-bit installers. It's weird because I can play older games just fine via DOSBox, but the early Windows game (well, early-ish...I don't have any Windows 3.1 era games lying around that I want to play at this moment) are in a weird middle ground of too old to play, but not old enough to have a proper emulator.

I was thinking of just setting up a computer in a dusty corner of the house somewhere to run an older version of Windows, but then it was rumoured to me (I forget by whom) that Windows 8 might come with some capability to handle 16-bit applications. Or, perhaps, there is some other easy way to get around this problem, and perhaps it is not a problem at all.

I don't know things about computers. =P So how do you-all play games of this bygone era?

05-04-2013, 04:52 PM
(I am afraid that the only good answer will be to install the games on an XP-mode VM and then play it there or copy the installed game back to the computer...but I have found that to be annoying and only partially effective, so I was hoping for a *magical* solution =P)

05-04-2013, 05:31 PM
a few games have fan made patches released for them. If the titles you want to try don't have a patch, your best bet is either vmware or installing windows 98 in dosbox and loading your games from there. Both vmware and dosbox have pretty nice video scaling and filtering features, but dosbox loads the virtual os much more quickly. Hope that helps.

06-04-2013, 06:39 AM
The problem is that 16 bit support has largely been dropped, especially for 64bit operating systems. Windows 8 32bit does support 16bit software, but any 32 bit Windows does the same thing. The 64bit versions do not support 16bit apps, including Windows 8. This is just how software progression works unfortunately.

As I understand it, the reason is because in running an x64 OS natively the CPU doesn't support executing 16bit software due to modern architectural differences - going back a few years it was sort of possible with NTVDM (on older WinNT x64 operating systems) but modern x64 CPUs don't support this anymore, so to get it to work on 64bit operating systems you'd need to emulate a 16bit CPU anyway. Different story running 32bit software on an x64 CPU. More stuff here (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/282423) and here (http://superuser.com/questions/140953/why-64-bit-os-cant-run-a-16-bit-application).

As Mashy said, some people have developed patches for older 16 bit installers for some games but support is pretty patchy. If there isn't a patch available, I'd just do a Win98 VM for maximum compatibility (don't use XP unless the game is from the very late 90s or very early 2000s, XP being on the NT kernel wasn't perfect with Win9x compatibility). Chances are you've got more than enough processing power to handle it. It's not ideal, but unless you're willing to drop back to a 32bit OS, it's your best option.

EDIT: For my part I use a Win98 virtual machine in VMWare Player. It's not that difficult to set up, save for sound drivers because you need a particular kind of old Creative SoundBlaster driver. Getting it wrong causes Win98 to enter a BSOD loop, because the old Win9x kernels just threw a fit whenever something went wrong.

06-04-2013, 11:30 AM
That's because the 9x line of kernels were complete crap. And the rest of windows 9x as well. Did you know that the original Windows 95 and 98 had a bug that caused it to crash after 49 days? It took them like 4 years to even find that bug because Windows always puked on itself before that.

But yeah, a VM with 98SE would probably be your best bet for running 16-bit games. VM's are plenty fast enough for that. That is, if your game isn't on GoG.

06-04-2013, 07:50 PM
I haven't had any trouble running Oregon Trail in DOSBox, so that's a little odd. DOSBox is nice because you can just drag and drop installations in and stuff like that.

VMs work as well. I've prefer VirtualBox and I've got several VMs with MS-DOS 6.22, Windows 3.1, Windows for Workgroups 3.11, and even OS/2 2.0 on my laptop. I've also got a 95 and 98 disk lying around waiting to be installed. You can pick up the floppies and CDs off ebay for a few dollars (which is what I did), or you can probably find some lying around, either in an attic or on the internet. I do play around with old hardware a lot and restore old computers so just buying the floppies made sense for me.

There's all kinds of tricks to getting these OSes to run in VirtualBox or VMWare, so if you get stuck just check out their forums.