Michael from New York writes:

 First off thank you very much for the help you have given. I have just gotten a new computer that has windows 8.1. I have some older games and I would like to know if there is any way that I can install them? Some will install and some will not.These games have worked in every computer I have had. I was wondering if there might be some kind of back door way of doing this.

The very problem Michael mentions is why my gaming desktop PC still runs Windows XP, while my work laptop grudgingly runs Windows 8. If you’ve had to upgrade and find your classic games no longer install or run, there are some workarounds available so you can get back to shooting aliens, saving princesses, and solving puzzles.

One common problem with running older games comes from your computer’s administrative rights. From Windows Vista onward, the operating system no longer assumes the current user is an administrator with full access to make changes. This can help prevent certain viruses and spyware from infecting your computer, but it also means older games may not always install or run properly without actually specifying you are the computer’s administrator.

Open the folder containing the game’s executable or installation file, right-click the file, and then choose “Run As Administrator” to see if this is the root cause of the problem.

Running as administrator

Microsoft actually foresaw the potential for compatibility problems between versions of Windows, which is why in Windows 8.1 you can run individual programs in “compatibility mode,” which emulates a previous operating system. To be clear, this isn’t a universal fix – there are programs that still won’t work in compatibility mode – but it is absolutely worth trying to get your treasured old games running.

To use this mode, right-click the executable file (or the desktop shortcut you use) for the game and select “Properties” and then navigate to the “Compatibility” tab.


Click the “Compatibility Mode” check box, and then select an operating system from the drop down box that you know the game previously worked in, such as Windows XP. Click “Apply” and “OK” and then open the game to see if compatibility mode will get it running properly.

Compatibility Mode

In part 2 of this article, I’ll explain some changes you may need to make to ensure that your games look their best.

~ Ty Arthur