Windows 8 is here; there’s no getting away from it. And there’s been a lot of discussion about whether MSTS and its associated utilities do or don’t run well on it. First off, one thing has to be said:
Sorry, I can’t support Windows 8 and MSTS on this blog. I run Windows 7 (64-bit) and have no plans to move on to Windows 8. Maybe whatever next operating system Microsoft produces will hold some attraction, but Windows 8 is off the table for me.
So, any references I make to Windows 8 will be based on what I’ve learned in the general MSTS community, but it won’t be from personal experience.
Following is a brief, compiled rundown of what’s most commonly known about MSTS-Windows 8 issues:
- If you have an AMD(ATI) graphics chipset, and it’s associated Catalyst Control Center, MSTS will not run.
- The most recent Intel integrated graphics chipsets may or may not work. Reports from the community vary. In general, Intel graphics chipsets from the recent past have been giving poor performance and bad visual artifacts anyway, even under Windows 7, so it’s been best to avoid them all along.
- Nvidia chipsets ARE working with Windows 8. Basically, if you’re going to run MSTS under Windows 8, you NEED an Nvidia graphics chipset, period.
- MSTS may give poor performance in fullscreen mode. Switching to windowed mode (which requires MSTS-BIN) seems to clear it up.
- The editors and tools are still troublesome. As always, save often and try switching to 16-bit color if you can.
- User Account Control works just the same as it did in Windows 7. You will need to avoid its pitfalls by using the same techniques as have been documented for Windows 7 and Vista. Windows 8 doesn’t introduce any new issues here, thankfully.
- Windows 8 comes with only rudimentary DirectX 9 (and earlier) support. Be sure to run the DirectX Web installer from Microsoft, or download and run the latest DirectX Redistributable installer to get everything for DX9 and consequently earlier DirectX support. Fixing this may have much to do with making MSTS more stable under Windows 8, because the built-in DirectX support is focused on DX10 and later.
- It’s being reported that running MSTS in a virtual machine, set up as Windows XP, is working rather well on Windows 8 PC’s that can support it. The trick is, you need a CPU in your PC with full virtualization support. This allows a better carry-through of hardware acceleration features for DirectX — a key component for making MSTS run without lag and poor frame rates in a virtual machine. VMWare Player and VirtualBox are the popular third-party solutions that run on a wide variety of systems, and 64-bit Windows 8 Pro can run Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization as long as the hardware meets some specific qualifications. As with all virtual machine setups, having plenty of physical RAM in your PC is important.
Meanwhile, Open Rails is reported to be working quite well on Windows 8!