Getting StarCraft to run on VPC2007 and Win98

With all of the recent fanfare about StarCraft II, I figured it was time to dig out the old StarCraft disc, reinstall it, and run through it again. Unfortunately, it wants to run full-screen at 800×600. I wanted to be able to run it in a window, but all of the tools that are supposed to let it run in a window didn’t work for me. So instead, I figured I could set up Windows 98 running inside Virtual PC 2007 and play it that way. It’s possible, but tricky.

Get Windows 98 up and running

  1. Install Virtual PC 2007. It’s a free download from Microsoft’s website.
  2. Create a new virtual machine for Win98, and mount your Win98 CD so that it’ll boot.
  3. Install Win98 into the VM.
  4. DO NOT install the VPC2007 VM Additions. In fact, if you already have a Win98 VM and already have the VPC2007 VM Additions installed, uninstall them. Reboot the VM. You should not be able to share folders or the mouse at this point.

Get Windows 98 and Virtual PC 2007 to play nice

  1. Go onto the Microsoft website and do a search for Virtual PC 2004 Service Pack 1. It’ll be a ZIP file.
  2. Extract the MSI installer from the ZIP file.
  3. You need to extract the VPC2004 VM Additions from this MSI file. You can use msi2xml to do that. (Hint: from the command-line run msi2xml -c . "Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 MSDN.msi".)
  4. Rename AdditionsISO to Additions.iso.
  5. Mount that ISO image as the CDROM for your VM. Install the VM Additions.
  6. Reboot into SAFE MODE.

Get Windows 98 to boot again

  1. Go to Start, then Run, type system.ini and click OK. At the very top of the file, you should see something like:
    {more garbage}
  2. If those mouse.drv and host.mouse.drv lines aren’t there, you’ll need to add them. Either way, edit them to look like so:
  3. Make sure you remove any garbage characters. Save and close the file.
  4. Open My Computer and go to your C: drive. Find the Autoexec.bat file, right-click it, and choose Edit.
  5. Look for a line that looks something like C:\WINDOWS\VMADD\SYSINI.EXE and delete it. Save and close the file.
  6. Reboot into normal mode. You should now be able to share the mouse and folders.

Get Windows 98 up to spec

  1. Shutdown the VM.
  2. Open the Windows 98 VMC file in notepad. This is probably in your My Virtual Machines folder inside My Documents. It’s just an XML file, so any text editor will do.
  3. Look for <vram_size type="integer">8</vram_size> and change the number to something like 32 or 64. Save and close the file.
  4. Restart the VM.
  5. Right-click the Windows 98 desktop, select Properties, and go to the Settings tab on the Display Properties window that pops up.
  6. Change the Colors to “True Color (32 bit)” and the Screen area to “800 by 600 pixels”. You shouldn’t have to reboot.
  7. Use Windows Update to get all of the patches, hotfixes, and updates that you can. Your Windows 98 box will get pwned if you don’t!

Get StarCraft installed

  1. Insert and mount your StarCraft CD. Install the game like normal.
  2. Go out to and download the latest patch. (Version 1.14 at the time of this writing.) Install.
  3. Play!

By Rick Osborne

I am a web geek who has been doing this sort of thing entirely too long. I rant, I muse, I whine. That is, I am not at all atypical for my breed.