Running old DOS games in Windows 95
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1997. First
published in Computer Player, May 1997
Last month, we started looking at how we can make
Windows 95 work better
for running DOS programs... which for most of us, means games. Most
games, even if they're still DOS programs, are much more cooperative
Win95. But you may want to run some of the old classics-either your old
favorites, or new purchases, maybe from the stores' budget racks.
Such games may run happily in a Win95 DOS session...
but far too many
make special demands before they will run. It can be
* Where's the icon?
Windows programs typically include a Setup or Install
among other things, adds an icon to Win 3.1's Program Manager or Win
Start Menu. Newer DOS games may do the same... but while older DOS
may have some kind of install program to copy files to your hard drive
and choose a sound card, they usually don't add an icon to
you with the need to go to DOS (or the Windows RUN command), and type
peculiar DOS command line phrase to start the program.
It's not too hard, however, to add an icon to the
Windows 95 Start Menu
for those games. Here's one way to do it...
* Right click on an unused area of the Task Bar-the
space to the right
of the Start Menu. You'll see a popup menu... click on PROPERTIES. This
gets you a typical tabbed dialogue box-click on the START MENU PROGRAMS
* Choose the ADD option by clicking on the button. This starts up a
Wizard-asking you questions to automate the process of adding an icon
the Start Menu. First, you'll be asked for a Command Line... the DOS
to start the program. For example, if your game was installed into a
directory, and you need to type GOGAME to start it, type
as the command line. (If you're not sure what to type, you can click on
the BROWSE button to look at your hard drive). Click NEXT.
* You'll be asked for a folder for the shortcut (Start Menu icons are
examples of Win 95 shortcuts), and given a tree-diagram showing the
that make up the sub-menus of your Start Menu's Program group. You
double-click to add it to the Accessories-Games folder that already
add it to another existing folder, or click on the New Folder button.
* Next step-give the icon a name, and pick an icon from the standard
icon collection. That's it-you're done... you're DOS program or game
has an icon of its own, in your chosen Start Menu group. Give it a
may work... then again, it might not. If not, it may need expanded
or need to run in MS-DOS Mode.
* What if your DOS programs want expanded memory?
Some DOS programs need so-called expanded or EMS
memory. This was an
workaround that let older DOS computers access more memory than the 640
kb conventional memory limit. On original 8088 and 80286 processors,
memory could only be obtained with a special hardware board, but 386 or
later computers (including anything that can run Win95) can make it
its store of more normal, extended memory.
If you're trying to run software that specifically
demands EMS memory
(Masters of Orion, or Star Trek-the 25th Anniversary, for only a few
many examples), you need to open the C:\Config.sys file in Notepad.
the lines reading Device=C:\Windows\Himem.sys and
noems . (If you don't have those lines, add them! And find last month's
column for more details). Change the EMM386 line to read:
Device=C:\Windows\Emm386.exe ram 1024 This will
provide one meg of EMS
memory. If your program insists on more EMS ram, change the number at
end to the amount your software needs.
Only set up Emm386 to provide EMS memory if you have
software that demands
it-doing so takes away from the pool of memory that's available to your
Next month, we're going to try to finish off this
series, and look at
the mysteries of MS-DOS Mode. And you thought Windows 95 was going to
things easier? (Actually, it does-if you think <italics> this
is complex-you should have tried it before! Now do you understand why
people bought Macs?)