Games for Windows 2000
Posted at 02:15 on 16th September 2007 - permalink

Spare a thought for us Windows 2000 users. I’ve been happily using the OS for close to five years, and have never had a pressing reason to upgrade to Windows XP (in fact, I prefer Windows 2000’s slightly more responsive UI and modest appetite for physical memory – not to mention the futuristic name). Until recently this has all been fine and dandy.

In spite of Windows 2000 being only about a year older than Windows XP (and in terms of functionality required for modern PC games virtually identical), publishers and developers are quietly starting to drop support for the system. That’s not “dropping support” as in putting a sticker on the box absolving themselves of responsibility if your computer explodes, but actively putting checks into games and installers to prevent Windows 2000 users even trying to play them.

Because Windows 2000 users are in a tiny minority these days (no exact figures exist, but a survey taken by Valve of Steam users suggests that they may now account for less than 1% of PC gamers), there hasn’t been a lot of outcry about games failing to run on it. There is also a lot of confusion over exactly how similar the operating systems are (a lot of gamers – and publishers – blithely assuming that there must be a technical reason for new games to be rendered incompatible, as had often been the case in the migration from DOS-based Windows 98 to NT-based Windows 2000 and XP), and the true motivations of some publishers for dropping support.

The most common reason for a game to fail to run on Windows 2000 is that once it’s been decided not to actively support an operating system, it’s easy to make small changes that accidentally break compatibility. There have been several occasions where users have been successful in fixing these minor incompatibilities, allowing the game to run flawlessly on Windows 2000. The most recent example is Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (developed by Splash Damage in conjunction with Id Software), a game that has the dubious distinction of shipping with support for Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X and Linux, but not Windows 2000.

A handy patch to allow Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (both the demo and the full game) to run on Windows 2000 is available here. Further information on patching the game can be found in this thread. (Compatibility obstacles aside, I heartily recommend this game.)

While the scenario described above is most common, a few instances of incompatibility seem to have been intentional, raising suspicion (warranted or not) about the practice in general. The most obviously deceptive example is Ensemble Studios’ Age of Empires III, a game which performs an operating system check at install time and refuses to install on Windows 2000 systems. If this check is circumvented (by using Microsoft’s own MSIEXEC utility), the game installs and runs without a hitch. It seems to be fairly obvious at this point (with similar backwards compatibility ‘miracles’ having been performed on various other games) that Microsoft have no compunction with trying to artificially force operating system upgrades on gamers.

The recent “Games for Windows” marketing program, while not explicitly stating that developers should not support Windows 2000, conveniently requires games to make API calls that are not supported by the OS. Again, most of the games affected by this have subsequently been modified to run on Windows 2000.

The only major exception to this is Relic’s Company of Heroes, which we can only assume does something so exotic under the hood that it genuinely needs Windows XP to run. We may never know for sure – in contrast to Splash Damage, who were quite open about the compatibility situation with ETQW (after initially being understandably wary that admitting the game would run on Windows 2000 might oblige them to offer technical support), Relic have consistently failed to address the issue, and prevent it from being asked about on their forums.

In light of this, even when I eventually do upgrade to Windows Vista (at some point in the next couple of years), I’ll be giving Relic’s games a miss. It would be unreasonable to expect developers to support old technology indefinitely, but at the very least we should expect to be told exactly why we’re not being given a choice.

More details on getting several other popular games to work on Windows 2000, after the ‘jump’.

Age of Empires III…post171


Command & Conquer 3

Call of Duty 4 (new! 01/08)

(Only the installer check needs to be circumvented.)

Crysis (new!)

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

Lord of The Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II

There’s a “W2K Patch” on, but it seems that this is another case of an installer check, so the “Age of Empires” method may work also. I’ve not been able to test this one as, hello, it’s an RTS based on Lord of The Rings.


Supreme Commander

And remember, everything that boots is beautiful.

Comments (14) »
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hi i just wanted to say thanks. micro$oft won’t be getting me to “upgrade” anytime soon. long live windows 2k !
peace out

Another Win2k user here that thanks you this article :)

It is nice to see people that love 2000 and with no real reasons to change, as me.

Wow, I thought I was the only person who still believes in using Windows 2000 over anything else.

Great to see that there are still some of us left.


Sorry, I meant “IsWow64″ not win.

“The procedure entry point IsWoW64Process could not be located in the dynamic link library kernel32.dll”

Matt: What game is giving you the error? Your best bet is to look on the Windows 2000 Gaming forum here:

Hmm, it’s down right now, but the wrapper pack you can download there may work for you.

thank you Robin, i believe it was that particular wrapper hack that ended up doing the job for me, i had an older version made by the same programmer which wasn’t working, and I spent a lot of time figuring it was a human error on my part using the wrapper, until I gave up on it and did a lot more searching and posted on forums and what not and came across that site myself and got that wrapper and got it to work.

The game was Chessmaster Grandmaster edition, and the problem was it was trying to check for a function in kernel32.dll that is only supported on winxp and maybe vista, so the wrapper fixed that. Thanks!

“The procedure entry point IsWoW64Process could not be located in the dynamic link library kernel32.dll”

Fix at:

With xp api wrapper.

1.) Run regeunknowndll, reset computer
2.) Extract needed dll into the application you are trying to run directory, do not rename
3.) Copy the proper same named dll from elsewhere on your computer and rename to the designated targetname in the readme, put in the application you are trying to runs’ directory

That should work.

If that fails to work extract then try and extracting the entire .rar file into your applications directory in case the dll rename function requires one of the files in the rar to also be on your drive. I don’t think they do but I ended up extracting everything to begin with so I can’t be sure.

hi guys,

I’m also trying to install chessmaster grandmaster on a W2K system. I downloaded the wrapper, but can not find the regunknowndll.

is it possible to post/mail me a small manual on this? I’m not a native english speaking person, maybe I’ve got lost somewhere because of this…

anyway thanks!

OldCigarettes Windows 2000 XP API Wrapper Pack is at version 1.7 and can be downloaded from here:

This forum is a great resource for gaming under windows 2000:

I’m glad there are other gaming geeks out there who happen to LOVE Windows 2000. It’s the best software to come out of Redmond, ever.

I’m indefinitely still Using win2k till I decide to upgrade to win 7 ;D

win2kgaming forums have moved from their old url of:

to this new url:

I have tried every windows there is. Even forced myself to like winxp, with no success. Back on Win2k again, and LOVE it! The most responsive OS. FIFA 12 runs really good after some fixing. 12 year old OS running on my quad core :D


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