It is a little more complicated than that. The Windows version of GK1 & 2 may or may not run on Vista 32. I would tend to think they would, but I can't test as I am running Vista 64. The main problem here is more of a matter of bit depth than compatibility issues between different versions of Windows. Neither 1 or 2 Windows versions will run on XP64, but will on XP32, at least with Hendroz's installer. What will or will not run on any given version of Windows depends on a number of factors, bit depth, compatibility (differences in APIs, system file versions and the reliance of some games on specific versions of things like DIrectX. This is all complicated by differences from one PC to the next (hardware, drivers, incompatible programs, etc.). Bit depth - 64 bit vs 32 bit
64 bit Windows has no NTVDM (Windows' highly imperfect built-in DOS emulator) or not WOW (Windows on Windows, allows 16 bit Windows programs to run on NT flavors of Windows, such as 2K, XP32 and Vista32). No 16 bit Windows games, no DOS games without an emulator like DOSBox or a Virtualizer like VMware
. Virtual PC
will not install on a 64 bit version of Windows.
The following is a list of issues may have on newer systems.
APIs (Application Programming Interface) are how programs, including games, interface with an OS. They evolve and change with each new version of Windows.
Newer versions of system files that come with newer versions of Windows and changed APIs cause compatibility problems. Older programs and games will encounter problems when they are looking for missing or changed functions and not find what they expect. These problems can run from not even starting to various crashes or lockups. Compatibility mode can occasionally address some of these issues, but more often not.
The most known of these is the timer bugs as PCs become faster and faster. Some games do not like Hyper Threading or Multi-core CPUs. Ancient games may choke on too much memory.
Considerations of what to include in your list of OSs:
1) Windows 2000 - Can be ignored. Not many still have it and is possibly the wost platform for gaming.
2) Windows XP32 - At this point, still the most widely used OS. We mostly know what does run, doesn't and does with issues.
3) Windows XP64 - For the most part we can dismiss XP64, as not many people have it, nor would they be gaming on it.
4) Windows Vista32 - Becoming more common. Has the NTVDM and WOW, and can run 16 bit Windows and DOS games. Comes With DirectX 10, so no EAX or Direct3-D and can't run fullscreen DOS games that use certain graphics modes unless you install Windows XP drivers (not recommended). Most games written for XP should run it.
5) Windows Vista64 - Much more common place than XP64. This is the future of Windows. Has all of the problems that Vista 32 has, but has the extra issues of the greater bit depth. This one cannot be ignored, as more and more users have it. Many, if not most, Vista install discs come with both 32 and 64 bit versions.
6) Windows 7 - Unless the marketeers get their hands on it like they did Vista it will finally drop most legacy compatibility. The loss of this backwards compatibility will be more than made up for by dramatically improving performance and stability. Part of the reason that Vista is as much of a resource hog is it tries to keep its backwards compatibility by things like loading multiple versions of systems files to provide old games what they expect. While we can ignore it for the time being, we have to remember it when creating solutions that may be broken with its release. If DOSBox breaks, expect the DOSBox devs to quickly fix it after Windows 7 is released.
As I don't have Vista 32, it would be good if someone that does and has many of the classics to help out with testing. We will leave this thread open for comments, questions, contributions and corrections. It may be assembled into a FAQs for this site.