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Reaction to Windows 10 has been largely positive, but it introduces a few new problems into the lives of computer users. Gamers with a penchant for retro titles 8 Retro Gaming Gadgets For Geeks 8 Retro Gaming Gadgets For Geeks Retro games and the gadgets that go with them are just as likely to thrill and enthrall gamers as the latest Triple-AAA titles. Read More have been particularly hard hit with the news that titles that employed SafeDisc and some versions of the SecuROM Digital Rights Management What Is DRM & Why Does It Exist If It's So Evil? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is DRM & Why Does It Exist If It's So Evil? [MakeUseOf Explains] Digital Rights Management is the latest evolution of copy protection. It’s the biggest cause of user frustration today, but is it justified? Is DRM a necessary evil in this digital age, or is the model... Read More system are not supported.

So what can be done about this, and what is Microsoft playing at?

Don’t Blame Microsoft

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First off, it isn’t really appropriate to blame the immense technology giant on this occasion. Speaking at Gamescom this year, Microsoft’s Boris Schneider-Johne explained how the decision to remove support for these retro titles is a result of making the operating system more secure.

“Everything that ran in Windows 7 should also run in Windows 10. There are just two silly exceptions: antivirus software and stuff that’s deeply embedded into the system needs updating – but the developers are on it already – and then there are old games on CD-Rom that have DRM. This DRM stuff is also deeply embedded in your system, and that’s where Windows 10 says ‘sorry, we cannot allow that, because that would be a possible loophole for computer viruses.’”

The result is that if you want to play games like Crimson Skies to Grand Theft Auto 3 (yeah, it’s out on Android Grand Theft Auto III Brings Car-Jacking Goodness To Android [News] Grand Theft Auto III Brings Car-Jacking Goodness To Android [News] Many famous franchises have been ported to Android already, including SimCity, The Sims, Need For Speed, World of Goo and many others. Unfortunately, they all have one thing in common - a lack of some... Read More , but you might still to play want the PC version), Medieval II: Total War and Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 to the original The Sims, you can’t without employing a workaround; meanwhile, SafeDisc has been known for some time to be unreliable, which is why it ended up being abandoned.

What Happened with SafeDisc?

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In November 2007 an “elevation of privilege” security vulnerability in SafeDisc was discovered, which enabled attackers to take complete control of a Windows PC. While later patched by Microsoft, it was one of many nails in the coffin of this form of DRM. Back in the mid-2000s, DRM security vulnerabilities were often used as an attack vector Is DRM A Threat To Computer Security? Is DRM A Threat To Computer Security? Read More by hackers.

Asked for their opinion concerning its removal from Windows 10, developers Rovi Corporation observed:

“Safedisc DRM hasn’t been supported for a few years now, and the driver has consequently not been updated for some time. Microsoft should have migrated the existing software since Windows 8. We don’t know if that’s still possible with Windows 10 or if they simply didn’t care about it.”

SafeDisc relies on the SECDRV.SYS file, which isn’t present in Windows 10, and attempts to import and run it in the new OS have failed.

Finding Workarounds and Playing Your Good Old Games

While Microsoft has abandoned the original releases of many classic games, you should still be able to find a way to play them. Yet ironically, perhaps the first solution you might consider is also one that requires you to use software developed for game piracy.

No-CD patches were developed to bypass SecureROM and SafeDisc, supposedly as means of allowing gamers to play installed games without having to insert the game media How To Play Games Without CD Using No-CD Cracks How To Play Games Without CD Using No-CD Cracks Read More . This had a useful impact for pirates, however, enabling disc cloners to distribute copies of games via downloading sites. The issue of whether or not a player should be forced to keep a disc in the optical drive while playing has thankfully been consigned to history (damaged discs and unreliable disc drives were a particular problem, but making ISO copies would extend the life of your game media Extend The Life Of Your Optical Discs With ISO Backups & Virtual Clone Drive [Windows] Extend The Life Of Your Optical Discs With ISO Backups & Virtual Clone Drive [Windows] There is absolutely no reason why you would still want to routinely run games, movies, or music from optical discs. Inserting, ejecting, and switching discs is a nuisance and subjects both the drive and the... Read More ).

Unfortunately for anyone affected by Windows 10’s lack of retro gaming support, however, many of the sites that hosted No-CD patches have also long gone. You may find them, or be able to dig up the patches on BitTorrent, but really we wouldn’t advise it. There’s no way we can encourage this as the risks of picking up malware in the process are too great.

(And of course Microsoft is not condoning piracy; they’ve more or less looked at the numbers of people still playing these older titles and judged that it’s a relatively small chunk. And with various other workarounds available, it’s reasonable to say that this added Windows 10 security feature has been unfairly reported.)

So abandoning the idea of a No-CD patch, what other options do you have for getting those old titles running again?

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First of all, check the developer’s website. It’s been reported that patches have been released for a few of these games, and if communities display enough desire it is likely that more will be forthcoming. Send emails and launch threads on message boards.

Second, if you’ve upgraded to Windows 10 by installing as a dual-boot, you’ll have to restart and swap into your other version of Windows to play these titles until a more robust workaround is available. If this doesn’t suit you, and your computer is reasonably powerful, running Windows 7 or 8 in a virtual machine Testing A New Operating System? Stay Secure With A Virtual Machine Testing A New Operating System? Stay Secure With A Virtual Machine Read More (such as VMware Player or Oracle VM VirtualBox) is also an option.

Third, and probably most sensible of all, is to simply repurchase the games, in digital-only format. The idea of paying for the same piece of entertainment media in multiple formats is one that is considered to be particularly abhorrent to many, but in this situation it does seem to be a strong option. Websites like GOG.com feature DRM-free releases of many old titles 5 Incredible Games For Under $6 You Can Play DRM Free From GOG 5 Incredible Games For Under $6 You Can Play DRM Free From GOG GOG, formerly known as Good Old Games, is a game distribution service that focuses on classics that are natively available on or have been ported to either Windows or Mac. Read More , ready for you to purchase and use legally. You might also check whether the games are available on Steam.

Self-Sign the SafeDisc Driver

A fourth option is also on the cards. This is more or less straightforward, but requires you to get your hands a bit dirty. It involves self-signing the SafeDisc driver so that Windows 10 will detect it as a trusted file.

The easiest way to do this is to employ the Driver Signature Enforcement Overrider tool, which, when run as administrator, enables you to sign a previously untrusted file.

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Once you’ve acquired a copy of the SECDRV.SYS file (either by downloading it or copying it from the c:\windows\system32\drivers directory on Windows Vista, 7 or 8, and saving it to the same location in Windows 10), run the DSEO tool by right-clicking dseo13b.exe and selecting Run as administrator.

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Work through the subsequent dialogue boxes until you see the main menu and select Enable Test Mode then click Next.

This time, select Sign a System File, and browse to the SECDRV.SYS file in c:\windows\system32\drivers. Click OK, and wait while the driver is signed. You’ll see the following message:

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Once you have followed the instructions to restart and then run DSEO again with Test Mode enabled, the driver should now be loaded by the game you’ve had trouble with, restoring your ability to play it.

(Should you be using Windows 10 Technical Preview 3 Easy Ways To Install Windows 10 Technical Preview 3 Easy Ways To Install Windows 10 Technical Preview You can try Windows 10 Technical Preview for free and help Microsoft polish its new flagship operating system. Before you install it, make sure you choose the best method for your needs. Read More , enabling Test Mode will result in a watermark appearing on your display. This can be removed using the Remove Watermark option in DSEO.)

What Option Will You Take?

This security development in Windows 10 is wholly necessary, but obviously frustrating for any fans of retro gaming titles. As we’ve discovered, the inability to play a huge selection of retro games in Windows 10 is due to legacy restrictions with DRM, rather than Microsoft causing users problems for the hell of it.

Which workaround will you be using? Tell us in the comments.

Image credit: GTAIII PS2 Beta Drive-by via Wikipedia

  1. maxin magat
    June 4, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    how to ask question?

  2. Wimpleton Smith
    April 24, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    The DSEO tool could not set test mode on my Windows 10 install for some reason. However I opened command prompt as admin and ran "bcdedit /set TESTSIGNING ON" and on the next boot I was in test mode (shows the little watermark in the corner of the desktop). Now I can launch my safedisc games once more. Figured I'd mention it in case someone else has a similar problem enabling the test signing mode with DSEO.

  3. LReyomeXX
    November 22, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Origin is already fixing the Windows 10 issue by allowing gamers who own legal copies of games like SimCity 4 to contact them, they will ask for the following information, your name and sim city 4 key code, they will exchange the key code for a digital key code then you simply move your plug ins elsewhere, including all regions, and install the new version. They also tie the keycode to your Origin account, basically giving you another copy of the game.

    • Christian Cawley
      November 22, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      This is good news, LReyomeXX, thanks for sharing.

  4. Itanaman Dakar
    August 31, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    I understand what Slashee states, but the thing is this, software is not infinitely going to work. There were a few things game and software wise on earlier versions of Windows 3.1 and Windows 98 as an example that I would have loved to play, or software utilities that I still would like to have, but it isn't going to happen. Software, hardware and electronics are somewhat like leaded gasoline cars of the 80's and earlier. They sure are sweet to have, sleek, fast, and just darn good to look at, even if they are an antique and retro (actually that's the attraction for me). However, around 2000 they stopped selling leaded gasoline. You would then have to do 1 of 3 things if you wanted to continue to drive those cars, and that was either buy on top of the gas you were already paying for, an lead additive, that started to get a little pricey to each tank of gas, replace the engine, or have it re-seated for unleaded, all of which are or become pricey, but not quite as much as buying a new car, and it allows you to keep driving that beloved antique or classic car you love so much.

    The point is, if you want to play these 'Retro' games, then you are going to need to spend a little money to do so, and it really is as simple as that. Don't think of it as buying the game over, think of it more as paying to have it retrofitted to play in the new world or system (because it's still much cheaper than what you originally paid for it most likely), or just don't play it at all (junk it). However, the 'retrofit' is in fact the most sensible way, since you will obviously want it to continue to work without having to keep 'purchasing lead aditives', so to speak (time vested in getting it to work until the next Windows update occurs, and do it all over again), or actually pay to get the converted format of it.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 1, 2015 at 6:47 am

      The amount of money is the question here. If I've bought a game already, and you want me to buy it for a new platform, how about a hefty discount?

  5. Dave Dörenberg-Veltman
    August 29, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    If one can proof that they own a ligit games.at least the developers could release a game patch for the game's. Make them free for download or a $1 for sale. One should not to be paying lots of money for it. It's a merchandise already paid for! If you got 100+ games and rebuying them would be a lot of cash to pay for. Steam is great but in my opinion only if you never owned the game or had a damaged game.

  6. Scotty Mclean
    August 29, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    "It’s sensible (let alone most sensible) to spend more money buying games I already bought? What lottery did you win and why aren’t you sharing the prize money, since you obviously have too much of it?"

    lol, if you cant afford games then you shouldnt be buying them.. loser.

    • Slashee the Cow
      August 30, 2015 at 6:01 am

      I afforded them. The first time. Now maybe I want to afford new games, instead of the same ones again.

      lol, if you cant get my point maybe you shouldnt be replying to my comment.. loser

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 30, 2015 at 6:05 am

      Gotta agree with Slashee here, Scotty. I don't think you entirely got his point. He bought them, he just wants to not have to re-pay for them.

  7. Joshua Belanger
    August 29, 2015 at 4:56 am

    The reason it's sensible is because it involves the least amount of effort for the highest return. It's called a cost/benefit analysis. You don't have to risk malware. You don't have to get a tool that could create problems. You just get the game and play it. Furthermore, for the record, Good Old Games (GOG, for short) has exceptionally reasonable prices for its digital download games.

  8. Slashee the Cow
    August 29, 2015 at 3:38 am

    "Third, and probably most sensible of all, is to simply repurchase the games, in digital-only format."

    It's sensible (let alone most sensible) to spend more money buying games I already bought? What lottery did you win and why aren't you sharing the prize money, since you obviously have too much of it?

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 30, 2015 at 5:59 am

      I have to agree with Slashee here. This is my problem with so many of the things I've bought that I hope to get in a digital-only format. Music, movies, comics, books... I've already purchased the thing, I just want it on a different medium.

      • Kent
        January 5, 2016 at 11:24 pm

        I agree as well. My game of preference was Civ IV and it is not available on GOG.com. The only real option I am finding online is to not only re-purchase it, but to also open a "Steam" account to run it. I've decided to wait for someone to build a patch or enable some other free workaround. Paying twice for the same exact thing is unnerving.

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