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We all know that ending the explorer.exe process helps you to get some old games to work better (visually) on the Windows Vista and Windows 7 OS's. But why is that? Why do old games hate the new explorer? Or why does the new explorer hate old games?

In other words: What is the root of the color mess up problem with old games on newer OSs?

Here are some screens from Atomic Bomberman 95:

When explorer.exe is turned on:

enter image description here

When explorer.exe is NOT running:

enter image description here

I have tried different "compatibility>settings" options and when ticking ALL options it runs good even when explorer.exe is running.

When I untick one of the options in the "compatibility>settings" it starts to mess up the colors again.

share|improve this question
"We all know that ending the explorer.exe process helps you to get some old games to work" Actually, no, we don't :D – Oliver Salzburg Oct 21 '12 at 12:15
Ah ok that was a bit too optimistic xD – user144773 Oct 21 '12 at 12:24
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Well, the big difference is is the presence of the windows composite desktop or dwm.exe which is responsible for the visual niceties of modern windows. Its not explorer.exe its dwm thats responsible, and from the compatibility settings and its something MS has been aware of. Hardkilling explorer kills DWM, and the game works better. Why turning off compositing helps... I have no diea

Its a pretty easy fix - just set the right compatibility mode - in this case disable desktop composition

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
in case of Bomberman 95 ALL options in the "settings" have to be ticked, even if just one is unticked the colors "mess up", what could the reason be? So disabling desktop composition doesn't 'kill' dwm? – user144773 Oct 21 '12 at 12:28
I'd try various combinations of them. the first two and the last three fix different issues as I understand it – Journeyman Geek Oct 21 '12 at 13:18
Old games got away with a whole lot of ingenious shortcuts/crap that doesn't fly now. Having direct (almost) unfettered access to hardware under DOS and early Windows made possible all sorts of 'tricks' to increase performance, but of course additional layers of abstraction added over the years by the OS means it's difficult to predict what sort of compatibility settings will best work in any given situation, without testing various combinations. Indeed, in many cases compatibility settings don't help at all, and emulators/old OSes in a VM are the only way out. – Karan Oct 21 '12 at 13:23
@KAran that's actually a really good answer, just some more explaination on it becaue I like reading it and I want some more knowledge on it :D – user144773 Oct 21 '12 at 21:46
Just an addendum of sorts. :) Maybe this article might throw some more light on the issue. Unfortunately, I do not know why unchecking even one of the compatibility options messes things up in this case, or why checking all works. Like I said, these are things you often need to do trial and error to figure out, for every different program/game. – Karan Oct 21 '12 at 21:53

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