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Get Starcraft working on Windows 7: Three easy steps

Get Starcraft working on Windows 7: Three easy steps

Win7StarcraftYesterday my roommate and partner in crime, Lincoln, busted out his Starcraft box (again). This time, however, he uses Windows 7 as his desktop OS.

He was dubious, and sure enough, the 11-year-old game didn’t work correctly. It did launch, but the colors were all whacked out and the graphics were glitched in random places, rendering the whole mess unplayable.

He tried the built-in Windows XP Virtual Machine, but that wouldn’t play it because the XP VM can’t change screen modes. Back to the drawing board.

After some searching and some experimentation, he came to the following three-step fix:

  1. Right click the Starcraft icon -> Properties -> Compatibility tab
  2. Check ALL the Settings, but do NOT check Compatibility Mode
  3. When you are ready to play, right click your desktop and click “Screen Resolution”. Leave this window open. Now launch Starcraft!

For whatever reason, this admittedly odd fix solves the color issue. The most important bit: leave the Screen Res window open while you play and you’re golden.

By the way, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is out now!


  1. taka taka says no point in haggling with that junk guys keep an XP partition or machine next to your Windows7 set up so you can run DirectX 9 and down on the XP box and 10 and up and the 7 HELLLOLOOOOO wakeupppp poepleeeee
  2. FelixDeSouze
  3. Anony Punctuate much?
  4. Guest or down(up)grade to windows xp....
  5. Thrax
  6. redditor This is a symptom that Microsoft are force obsoleting certain things and artificially requiring things to update to work on windows (as manuf. want them to!)

    Microsoft are bastards
  7. Snarkasm
    Snarkasm Or perhaps its a sign of progress within an OS that's now more secure, faster, and more capable than Windows XP ever was, but with a caveat - that they had to close some loopholes or rework some APIs that were out of date.

    But hey, you can call them bastards if you want, I guess.
  8. meh Snarkasm, I am just posting this to say thank you. Good article, too.
  9. raas Starcraft also runs fine in 'wine' on Linux, without any tweak, hack or leaving additional windows open. Just sayin'.
  10. Black Jesus You guys are right. Microsoft is just dicks for not testing this 11 year old game out on windows 7. Let's all use Wine for our retro gaming! Can Wine do Zork too? I bet it can cause it's awesome.
  11. Karlos Marcus Use ChaosLauncher and you can play the game in windowed mode on windows 7.

  12. hrmrmrmrm if you can run windows 7 why not just run a virtual xp machine? works for me...
  13. Thrax
    Thrax Because Starcraft requires 640x480, and XPM cannot change resolutions.
  14. Anon @Black Jesus:

    Zork runs well in Dosbox, but I guess Wine is fine too.
  15. Gatz @Thrax so use a different VM client instead.
  16. Fennec Another solution, is to launch the game, go back to windows, and open task manager, kill explorer.exe and use ALT+TAB to go to the game, it will fix the color issue, I did this with Age of Empires 2 and it worked, got this from somewhere online, I can't remember from where.
  17. shwaip
    shwaip Running Windows xp in a Virtual PC 2007 vm (not XP Mode) allows me to play Diablo 2 in 7/vista. It runs much faster than any of the other hacks I'd tried.
  18. SuperBreakfasttime Try updating your video drivers, noob. SC works great for me under Windows 7, and the reason that you can't run it under Win7's XP VM is because it runs it through remote desktop and 16 bit colors.
  19. Thrax
    Gatz wrote:
    @Thrax so use a different VM client instead.

    I'm well aware. I was simply answering someone's errant statement.
  20. SuperBreakfasttime shwaip: You should be able to run Diablo2 natively in Windows 7. I haven't had a problem with it.
  21. SuperBreakfasttime "Starcraft also runs fine in 'wine' on Linux, without any tweak, hack or leaving additional windows open. Just sayin'."

    That's a lie. Multiplayer doesn't work under wine.
  22. shwaip
    shwaip: You should be able to run Diablo2 natively in Windows 7. I haven't had a problem with it.

    Yeah, I had it working in vista too, but there are some other advantages - I can run 2 vms and have 2 cd keys for muling. I tend to get (much) better performance this way than running windowed (2d). I can keep the window open in the background and email/gchat/irc, rather than having it minimize when i do that.
  23. Joe Insult I'd rather pay Bill Gates to kick me in the balls than use that clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous code called Linux.

    But then, I like being able to point the finger at one person when things go wrong instead of guessing which half-awake code monkey screwed up the latest distro.
  24. primesuspect
    Try updating your video drivers, noob.

    Sigh.. It's nice to have houseguests, but this reminds me of how much I love and appreciate the Icrontic community.
  25. Thrax
    Thrax I was thinking "try having suggestions that aren't obvious." Heh.
  26. Matt Seems like this may be an issue with his particular setup. I just installed SC and it ran fine for me on Windows 7 64. No need for any of this other stuff. However I should note that I used the version you can download from Battle.net, not the CD. Not sure if that makes a difference.
  27. Thrax
    Thrax It's not an issue with this particular setup. The Reddit comment thread reveals several other SC installs fixed by this methodology.

    And yes, the version you download from BNet makes a huge difference.
  28. Inskipp Works fine for me on 64-bit Windows 7, using nvidia 190.62 drivers. This is a cd-install from years ago.
  29. primesuspect
    primesuspect For those that cannot get it to work, through whatever combination of hardware, this fix is for them. :)
  30. Linc
    Linc Further info on the system cited in the article: I'm running 32-bit Win7, installed SC from CD, and patched with the latest available from Blizzard. My video card is a Radeon HD 2900 XT with Catalyst 8.6 installed.

    I don't know what vagaries are involved with why this is necessary for some and not for others, only that I found significant corroboration for this combination working for others as well (though not as concisely articulated elsewhere).
  31. Thrax
  32. Linc
    Linc (It's what Brian handed me from E3 - I'm lazy)
  33. Jin choung Starcraft started going buggy for me (same symptoms-whacked pixel depth making everything looked "solarized" in xp. Happened after I installed a desktop manager (in my case, stardock's fences). And from rare search hits, it seems like this is a pretty common for Starcraft to have issues with desktop managers so I'm betting that it has to do with win7 desktop management in general or aero in particular. But the fault seems to lie in Starcraft and the way it expects to interface with it's environment (old game can't be blamed) but hopefully blizzard will address in future patch (bless them, they're still supporting the game).
  34. rolleggroll
    rolleggroll Reading this article inspired me to re-install Starcraft. Followed the article. Starcraft works. I join a game. Lost Temple. A few minutes later, Reavers are in my base tearing me a new one as I can't micro lings for shit to defend myself. I remembered why I stopped playing.

    Good article though.
  35. Xaanix Thats because you played lost temple. You can always play money maps or UMS and you wont face such stiff competition. Also it usually helps to check your opponent's record, try to play someone with a record similar to your own.

    Usually i'll host a game and won't start it until i've successfully been able to /stat the other player and am happy with the opponent. I boot out anyone with a 'new' record (0-0) or obscenely bad (1-50-1) or obscenely good (120-10-0) records.
  36. raven it's amazing - it works! thanx m8 :D
  37. Spampy
    Spampy Discovered this myself a couple of weeks ago getting the game to work in Win7 x64 for my roommate, good to see the fix spread!
  38. Jonathan make a batch file that looks like this:
    "taskkill /f /IM explorer.exe
    cd "C:\Program Files\StarCraft\"
    start explorer.exe "
    and it will work for you! tested on windows 7 - home edition - legal version ;)
  39. crossalchemist Alternatively, you CAN run Starcraft, and "any" XP compatible program, in XP Mode. Simply click Tools -> "Disable Integration Features" and Starcraft will work fully. Integration requires a 16 bit color scheme and the resolution changes depending on the size of the Virtual PC window. Disabling the integration features allows you change any settings you want. HOWEVER, it also disables the ability to shortcut to the program from Win7 as well as other things.
  40. TheShadowXX Hey I just got Windows 7 yesterday, and I tried your fix but it didnt work. crossalchemist, I was reading your comments, maybe you could help me out? I know how to make a batchfile I open notepad, but what do i put inside it? and what do i save it as, and where do i then put that batch file? please help me I really want to play StarCraft, so far i'm dissapointed in windows7. I never had problems like this in vista. Also this happens for antoer game I play Need For Speed Most wanted, any idea how to fix that as well?
  41. Jon Davis crossalchemist I did get it working with that method, but the host resolution does not adjust to the VPC guest resolution. The game plays in a tiny little window on my 28-inch monitor. Unplayable.
  42. ButchX Just tested on win7 32bit,all u need to check under compatibility tab for starcraft are the first 2 check boxes (256 color mode and 640x480) and the last one (run as administrator).You can leave anything else unchecked and you dont need to run screen resolution and leave it open.
    Hope this helps.
  43. Brood Does not work for me (yet).
    Using win7 pro 32-Bit version. Weird thing is
    - I first installed the game
    - checked 256 color mode and adjusted color depth to 16 bit (via right click desktop etc.)
    - Game was running excellent - without any problems.

    Next I updated the game to 1.61 >> that's were all the problems started - I have tourqoise screen mess ups and stuff and nothing seems to help - any solutions?
  44. Adam I'm running Window 7 (6.1.7600) on an Alienware Aurora (i7 920). I had the exact issue the author described. I used his suggestion to correct the problem - thank you. The only thing I wanted to add was that I didn't need to leave the "System Resolution" window open.

    Thanks a ton guys! Starcraft fans world wide thank you!
  45. Radio91P
    Radio91P Thanks for the article prime.....you know what else....good article prime.

    Glad the peanut gallery could join us too!
  46. That Nerd Thanks Jonathan for the batch script it works like a charm =)
  47. GHoosdum
    GHoosdum I'm a little confused as to how installing a different OS on a separate partition or creating a VM install is easier than Lincoln's three steps. I'd rather complete three easy steps than install an entire extra OS just to play a game.
  48. Jengo
    Jengo I agree with GHoosdum.

    thanks lincoln/prime! 3 step guide worked perfect!
  49. mike checking all the boxes and keeping the screen resolution window opened worked. Checking the frist two boxes and run as administartor box worked. Didn't try the batch file though, since the later fix worked really well. Thanks for all who posted such cool fixes.
  50. u0berdev My Fix:
    Just disable visual themes under the compatability tab. That was all I had to do. I did NOT need to check the other ones.

    My system:
    Win7 Pro 64-bit.
  51. u0berdev NEVERMIND! Nothing is fixing it. Apparently that was only temporary...
  52. Caspianstrider Thanks - works fine for me. Amazing that someone actually figured this out!
  53. suresh Thanks man..it works!!on win 7 ultimate 32bit :D
  54. nubz see, this fukcin starcraft won't work, i try to update on b.net and it immediately says, reinstall or i may have a virus or some BS. what a joke, god damn blizzard and there terrible support why do they have to make hte best games :(
  55. Starcraft yay Bought Starcraft Battle Chest, CD set. It installed version 1.15.2 and runs just fine on my Windows 7 64 bit system, no tweaks required. Nvidia driver 196.21.
  56. tchyz Thanks it worked with my friend's windows7 64 bit
  57. QCH
    QCH Awesome news that so many folks are able to play Starcraft on Win7. :rockon:
  58. Sebastián Didn't work for me!
    I was using it on WXP and it worked well, but when I tried on W7 the colours were all messed up and this solution didn't work for me.
    Any Ideas?
    I'm running it with Alcohol 120%
  59. ZeeAyeEeGee This is a ridiculous and absolutely stupid way to fix an issue that has been already solved by MS and Blizz a while ago. The only problem is they did not update their fix for version 1.16. Ok look, download this .rar containing registry keys: (link removed, safety cannot be verified -mod)

    It'll contain an x64 key for those using 64-bit win7 and an x86 key for those running 32-bit win7. Double click the registry key that is marked for your version of win7. Say yes and it'll update your SC with the already existing fix.

    Credit goes to Warlord_7 from forums.battle.net
  60. primesuspect
    primesuspect "ridiculous" and "absolutely stupid" in that it has helped thousands of people before the fix existed.

  61. gawencrow Dude!!! This totally works, I don't know why & can't imagine how y'all figured that one out but thanks anywho. :)
  62. adrian thanks.. this really works.. easy steps..
  63. DANIEL LOL THIS WORKS. i'd say ONLY let the window open, no need to check all those things. :S:S it's strange really ... works same for AoEII ... can't believe it ... if this is a bug i hope it won't get fixed ! lol :P
  64. ttx19 windows 7 is shit it will not play any of the games on or off microsoft list if they do install they go back to the desktop again and again and before you ask yes i have more then what it take to play all of the games out there windows 7 was made out in left field and was not made for any of the computers out there new or old so you like to play a game get windows xp home or pro that will fix it microsoft lied again and again
  65. mertesn
    ttx19 wrote:
    windows 7 is shit it will not play any of the games on or off microsoft list if they do install they go back to the desktop again and again and before you ask yes i have more then what it take to play all of the games out there windows 7 was made out in left field and was not made for any of the computers out there new or old so you like to play a game get windows xp home or pro that will fix it microsoft lied again and again
    One person's badly stated opinion versus everyone else on this forum who have had no problems running games on Windows 7 since the first beta release last year... You're doing it wrong.
  66. primesuspect
  67. tetch Sweet! Thanks a lot guys. Fixed it right up. :)
  68. Dogonpot Step 1 and Step 2 is not required.
  69. Piotr Yeah fine fine...My colours works fine but...i dont have sound in starcraft (only background music) i tried everything .CTRL + S not help me...Settings in SC and in computer are good.i have windows 7 (32 bit)
  70. oh really? @ raas: ha ha, yeah your right with out any type of intermediary program like wine that you'd,.. have,.. to. oh yeah you gotta down load install n configure that. that is easier. yay linux.
  71. oh really? coulda been a graphics burp. colors on screen look like your lookin through a heat sensitive camera? reinstall graphics card drivers or make sure its seated properly. usually fixes that quick, i ran it on my system win7 64 with no issue other than resolution wasn't supported so the picture was a bit streched.
  72. jaimy13578 i have a new fix.

    open taskemanger.
    than kill explorer.exe.
    than start a new task (starcraft.exe)
    and starcraft will start witheout any problems.
    when your finisht playing open taskemaneger and create a new task ( explorere.exe ) (c/windows/explorere.exe) and there is your taksebar back.

    this works for me ( using windows 7 Ultimate 32bit )
  73. dany thank you very much. my starcraft experience was almost ruined. you saved me.
  74. Jif19 I am beginning to believe it is the Windows 7 Desktop background setting set to "Change picture every 30 minutes" that caused Starcraft to lock on me. Once I changed that I no longer needed to leave the screen resolution window open.
  75. Dreco hey guys I've tried most of these solutions and they wont work for me (besides installing a second OS on a partitioned drive i find that a wast of room and time) when i launch SC my main monitor screen goes black and even if i alt tab it stays black i need to unplug the power socket in order to get a picture even wile the game is minimized and I've tried this wile in-game for SC still now picture wondering if any1 has any ideas on this?

    I'm ruining:
    Catalystâ„¢ Version 10.7
    ATI Radeon HD 4870x2 2gig card
    Q6600 quad core processor 2.4ghz
    6gig ram 800mhz
    Windows 7 64bit home premium
    HP HDMI Monitor

    i also have my monitor connected to me graphics card via a HDMI cable and got my LG 42inch LED LCD TV connected via HDMI cable also. I'm also running Display Fusion pro v3.1.10

    can any1 help me please i would really like to get SC running as i want to pass the missions on it b4 doing the missions on SC2 plus i got my girlfriend into it so she would also like to play the 1st game before starting the second lol
  76. Dreco Ive also tried compatible mode in XP and i still get the black screen were i need to unplug and then replug the power cord to get it to work again
  77. Daniel This works...until I finish a level, then I get an error message. "Couldn't read 0x004bdb81 referenced at 0x00000001." or something like that. Any fix for this?
  78. Hantak I recently changed my windows 7 home edition to windows 7 ultimate 64 bits. Prior this OS change i could run starcraft but i had the colour issue, after checking on tons of forums for a fix i got to a file wich was refered a couple post back, the file made a reg edit wich fixed the issue, avaible for both 32 and 64 bits windows 7 versions.
    I used Starcraft with its 1.16.1 version and after fixing the colour issue i never had a problem with it.
    After i changed to windows 7 ultimate 64 bits i managed to fix the colour issue with the same files, though now whenever i want to start playing it first asks me to insert the cd... (wich i have "mounted" using daemon tools) after re mounting the images i seem to be asked anyway for them, but the game runs anyway... NOW if i click on the multiplayer icon and pick any normal starcraft or brood war exp. the game crashes... theres nothing there to click upon, the screen goes black and all i can see is the white mouse arrow. not to mention i have to reboot in order to use my laptop. ah im using a Samsung R480.
    hope you guys can help me out cause right now im considering on installing a 2nd OS on the pc just cause i really enjoy playing old games. Regards!
  79. jorg this link provides a registry fix


    for starcraft v 116

    worked like a charm
  80. Green26 U Guys are geniuses!! The fix worked great, thanx ALOT!
  81. Jeff I second making a batch file, works flawlessly. For those who don't know how, make a new text (.txt) file and copy and paste:

    TASKKILL /F /IM "explorer.exe"
    cd C:\"Program Files (x86)"\Starcraft
    start /w C:\"Program Files (x86)"\Starcraft\Starcraft.exe
    start C:\Windows\explorer.exe

    then save it and rename the extension to .bat

    This is for mine running on windows 7 64bit, if you aren't running 64 then your program file folder name will be different. Same fix also works for MOO2
  82. Jeff Also the above fix is really easy because you only have to do it once, then you can just double click the icon and it starts up no hassle.
  83. Delinka jorg's fix is the best, thanks! And the explanation on the website (link above) makes total sense, no need for disabling explorer or changing any compatibility settings once applied.

    Thanks again jorg!
  84. Joseph I thought the patch messed up the game but apparently it was Windows fault! Thanks a lot for the tip.
  85. jono659 @primesuspect

    Ignore these shitheads, I actually do have a Dual boot on which I run Starcraft II, however its nice to be able to just batter Stacraft up in 7 and fool about.

    The workaround works perfectly and all I have to do is open the settings,. I'll take that any day over the rest of the LInux, ball kicking, wine shite. Gret workaround man, thanks.
  86. Xantix I followed your step 1 & 2, but the solarizing didn't go away for me until I downloaded the latest patch from Blizzard and followed the instructions on how to play StarCraft without the CD. Then it worked perfectly.
  87. notnonagnostic
    notnonagnostic YES! SOMETHING FINALLY WORKED! Thanks Jeff!
  88. Barez Wow, you blew all the other complex solutions (that didn't work) right out of the water. Thank you for this.
  89. Karam God bless you i downloaded 20 programs and non of them fixed it and yours did. A++++++++++++++++++
  90. Dave A personally, as far as the color issue goes. The way I get all or many of the older games to work. old school trick in my day was just add the *ddraw.dll* to the main game directory. "NO .bats, NO reg tweaks, NO compatibility issues... at that time Fallout 1 from Interplay was the most common used ddraw.dll file for it's day..

    1. copy ddraw.dll into main game directory
    2. run under admin

    If memory serves me correctly.. that same fallout file also worked on Warcraft 1-3 and Freelancer or any directx 5.1-8.2 beta series games for a color fix

    common dates used 1987 - 2008 88KB ddraw.dll
  91. Mike Mckillip dude seriously hands down best solution ever thank god i tried this one first...weird though aint it
  92. Ben Hayes AWESOME!!! Thanks, Helped A Lot!!
  93. Cory Belleveau Holy shit, it worked.
  94. GUSZULRUS Thank you I'm in Thailand I want you happy thank a lot ^ ^ I love Starcraft I even I have Starcraft II now but first series is classic thank
  95. Christian thx....work for me...
  96. Joseph4evr I loaded SC on my 64bit machine and it seemed to work fine and then it would go psychedelic on me. I tried the (leave res. open ) trick and didn't work right. If I jumped to the "desktop" and then back it would fix it temporarily. I then realized that every time a picture would cycle on my screen-saver, SC video corrupted.
  97. Alistair I got it working by simply right-clicking "Troubleshoot Compatibility" and letting Windows sort out the problems. Now I can run it without a problem (no need to open the screen resolution window!)
  98. jornightmare Thank you very much. Worked like a charm. Starcraft on XP is unstable and crashes regularly (tried 3 different PC and a laptop) even patching to latest. Broodwar won't even run. Now I can play again. I really appreciate your post.
  99. Leo Archon The only method that has reliably worked for me is creating the Batch file. But even then, I'm having one (non-graphics related) issue.

    Namely, my system freezes completely if I try to play more than one lengthy mission in a sitting. And by 'sitting', I don't mean I can exit the game, and then resume. I mean I have to restart the computer entirely to have any hope of playing more than one lengthy mission (particularly the later missions for each race).

    Is this due to using the Batch file method, or is it something else? I don't know where to get the 'ddraw.dll' file, as I don't own Fallout 1.

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