notbobsmith wrote:I'll see what GOG has to say. [...]
The story isn't that complex
(my wild guess is, that GOG.com just forgot to install the audio codec - because it worked on the test system
Once upon a time, the Indeo audio/video codecs provided the best compression (quality per bit/size) and the decoders were installed by default on Windows 95 and newer.
There is no active development on the codecs, and it was only a matter of time until security related issues have been found: https://technet.microsoft.com/library/security/954157
So Microsoft decided to disable the codecs for security reasons. First only in the media player to support legacy applications/games. Later (Windows 7) the codecs files are present, but not registered.
There are not that much alternatives available. Even if disk space doesn't matter that much nowadays, the ancient Cinepak codec (also available since Windows 95) just doesn't provide the quality (due to technical limitations) of the Indeo codec.
For old games this is a problem, because very often the original raw video/audio sources are lost. And re-encoding already lossy compressed videos doesn't improve the quality (if you're lucky, you might nearly keep the original quality with minor additional compression artifacts - but you need modern codecs for this). So you have the choice between a) a security threat, b) loss in quality, or c) yet another codec.
note: for Linux it's even more worse, Indeo 5 is broken on Wine.