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There are several software options available for running an older game on a newer computer, but you may have to take a step further.

I had a 32-bit Windows 7 Home Premium OS. I've got a 64-bit Windows Home Premium. Now I want to play a certain game that only works on 32 bit. How do I install my 32-bit OS and still have my 64-bit OS? I have two internal 500 GB drives and two external 500 GB drives.

In this excerpt from Answercast #15, I look at various ways to run a 32-bit game on a 64-bit computer.

Running 32 bit on a 64 bit system

There are a number of different approaches to this problem and it really, really depends on the characteristics of the game.

It is possible; I don't know if you tried, but it is possible that the game will just work. I know that I run 64-bit Windows on both of my primary machines and they play games just fine.

I play World of Warcraft; I've mentioned that before and the game runs just fine on 32 bit or 64. I really don't see an issue there.

Not all games run on 64 bit

Now, not all games are like that; I understand that. Games often take a more advantage of hardware specifics than your average run-of-the-mill application does.

Some of them do that in ways that aren't necessarily portable between 32 and 64 bit.

Virtual machine

The first thing I would suggest is to see if the game will run properly in a virtual machine.

There are several alternatives; I believe Virtual Box is the one that's free from Oracle (of all places). You could set up a 32-bit version of Windows in a window in 64-bit version of Windows. Then you could try running your game in there.

The concern I have with that scenario (and the reason it may or may not work) is that the game may rely too much on hardware specifics or direct access to the hardware to work at all. If it does work, it may work so slowly as to not be playable.

I think it's worth trying because I find this the most flexible alternative.

You can leave your Windows 64-bit running and just fire up that 32-bit virtual machine when it comes time to play the game.

Dual-boot system

The other alternative (and it's not something that I touch on very often... I try and avoid it if at all possible) is to set up a dual boot machine.

You could:

  • On one hard disk, have 64-bit Windows installed
  • On the other hard disk, have 32-bit Windows installed

That way, when you want to play your games, you need to reboot and select the 32-bit version of Windows to start.

Personally, I find that very cumbersome. I don't talk about it much at all on Ask Leo!

Dual-boot scenarios... In the long run, most people find that solution to be so cumbersome as to be unacceptable.

I strongly recommend you start with a virtual machine solution.

Use an old machine

The other solution that comes to mind is if you've got an old machine (a second-hand machine) that meets the specs for the game, it might be worth it to set up a second machine to play this thing.

It really depends on what your personal scenario is, what your personal resources are.

Contact the developer

Finally, the last solution (of course) is to get a hold of the game manufacturer.

64-bit is definitely growing in popularity, by leaps and bounds, and the game manufacturer needs to be addressing that. They should be pressured to update.

If they're still in business, if this game is current, if they're still around, then they should be getting a lot of pressure to get their game to work on 64-bit Windows. Because ultimately, that's where everybody's landing.

Article C5305 - May 7, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

May 7, 2012 1:55 PM

If the game can't be played on a 64 bit system because it's REALLY old, you may be able to use DOSBox to play it. I've played things like Lode Runner, Dinopark Tycoon, and Oregon Trail Deluxe using DOSBox, and it's pretty great for nostalgic encounters.

May 7, 2012 6:37 PM

the game was Far Cry played it on my XP os. like you said its not fesiable to go to a dual boot over one game or a vitural pc setup. i'll stick with my W7 64 bit love it

May 8, 2012 3:51 AM

Windows 7 also has Compatibility Mode. It might help.

May 8, 2012 9:12 AM

I have lots of PC casual games that are several years old and they all play fine on my 64 bit Windows 7 Home Premium. Windows sometimes suggests reinstalling with recommended settings, and I do this. As I understand it, 32 bit applications are stored somewhere slightly different than 64 bit apps (of which there are not as many as there should be at the moment). Almost everyone uses 32 bit web browsers with no problems (64 bit isn't sufficiently supported yet) and unless you have OLD games (someone has already suggested DOSBox) you should have no problems with them. If you have got them from a game club such as Big Fish then customer support can be very helpful if you have installation or gameplay issues ;o)

May 12, 2012 12:44 PM

I am running windows 7 home premium 64bit. Let me explain how exactly I do. Starcraft 2 wont start again after I have started once. Starcraft 2 running in background. I had to close and reboot computer so I can start Starcraft 2. Why? Normal I use wow 64, but I did test wow too. Never happened before...I would like to know how to fix this.

Would reinstall win 7 solve problem?

No, I don't think a reinstall would help. It simply sounds like starcraft isn't exiting like it should. I'd try using Task Manager or Process Explorer to locate and kill the running Starcraft that remains after you've tried to exit it, and then see if it'll start up after that.

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