Installing MSTS on Windows 10 and the CD 2 Problem

Some time ago, Microsoft removed all support for the SecuROM copy-protection system from Windows 10 — And with good reason. There’s a serious security vulnerability in the driver software for it. But with that support gone, installing MSTS on Windows 10 has seemingly gotten more difficult.

It’s not as bad as it seems. The solution is fairly simple — copy the files from each MSTS CD into one single folder, then run the installer.

There’s one temp file that gets overwritten when you copy the files into a single location; it’s OK since that file does nothing for MSTS — it’s probably part of how the installer tracked CD-swapping, but it makes no difference now.

CD 1 will copy with no problems unless it’s dirty or scratched. CD 2 may take longer, and keeping it clean and un-scratched is important still. This is because SecuROM used fake errors and deliberately “damaged” track sections on CD 2, so it’s harder to copy. But, somewhat ironically, the built-in improvements to file copy integrity in Windows 10 will work as long as the disk and the CD drive is in good condition.

Once you’ve copied all the files into one single folder, run the installer. To be safe, it’s generally best to right-click and choose “Run as Administrator” just because modern Windows can be picky about things like that. Be sure to pick an install location that’s not in \Program Files\ or \Program Files (x86)\, of course.

The installer will run all the way through to the end, without stopping to ask for the second disk. After that, be sure to install all of the official Microsoft MSTS updates; that will bring your install up to standard and remove the dependency on having Disk 1 in the drive.

To keep your folder of copied files safe, it’s best to make a .ZIP file archive of them. Use your favorite file-compression utility or even the ZIP utility built into Windows with right-click > Send To > Compressed (zipped) folder. Make a backup copy or two of the .ZIP file and put your MSTS CDs away for safekeeping.

Just for Fun (And Reference): MSTS on the Wayback Machine

Earlier, I’d mentioned the Wayback Machine, the Internet Archive’s ongoing virtual “time machine” archive of web pages. While poking around recently, I’ve discovered that the archive of the official Microsoft Train Simulator website is now fully functional. It had been there before, but like many archived sites, there were numerous broken image links and missing pages behind links. Thanks to some diligent work either at the Internet Archive, Microsoft, or both (Impossible to say, but the IA has been working to improve the linking of objects in their webcrawl database, both on their own and with the help of major sites that they archive) the site is working just as it did when it was “live” on Microsoft’s servers.

Rather importantly, the links in the Downloads section all work, and offer up the relevant files for download. This means that all of the official Microsoft patches and updates are safely archived and can be downloaded.

You can also explore the site, and read some of the ‘behind the scenes” and informational articles that were published.

Note: Just as it did originally, there’s a main navigation menu at the top of the Train Simulator page which is for the page itself. It works perfectly. There’s also a menu bar above that one which leads to various pages on the larger Microsoft site. Many of those links do work, but not all of them. They lead away from the Train Simulator page anyhow, so that’s not a problem.

The link I’ve provided will take you to what’s probably the last, most complete version of the MSTS website. It’s from December 5, 2006. Just for fun, if you click inside the Wayback Machine’s timeline display above the page, you can move to January of 2006, and see the page as it existed just after Microsoft officially announced MSTS 2, to be based on the same engine as Flight Simulator X. There are several links to blog posts by the ACES Studios developers which are working.

High Resolution Monitors and MSTS Crashes

It happened — you just upgraded your monitor, or perhaps you moved your MSTS installation to a new laptop or desktop computer, and… Nothing. MSTS crashes back to the desktop instantly when you try to launch it. But it was working perfectly before, so what happened?

Changes are, you encountered the most recent difficulty with MSTS versus modern computer hardware. The high-resolution monitors that are frequently built into laptops and included with desktop computers are capable of displaying resolutions that MSTS simply doesn’t know what to do with.

The type of monitor doesn’t matter. It could be an extremely high-DPI (Dots Per Inch) laptop display in an ordinary aspect ratio, a 4K desktop monitor, or a large ultra-wide monitor. Any of those types run at native resolutions far beyond what MSTS expects. With the BIN patch installed, the highest resolution MSTS can cope with is 1600 x 1200. Chances are, if you’re getting an instant crash-to-desktop with a high-resolution monitor, you’ll find that if you go to the display settings in Windows, the resolution is set higher than that. (The resolution that Windows labels “Recommended” is your screen’s native resolution, and it’s the default setting.)

Just choose a different, lower resolution of 1600 x 1200 or lower and then try launching MSTS again. If all goes well, it will launch. If it does, then you can go back and try different resolutions until you find what looks best. You may find some resolutions which are viewable but still too large. They’ll cause dialog boxes, like the exit confirmation box, to display incorrectly.♦

When you’re done running MSTS, you’ll have to go back to the display settings and change them back to the “Recommended” setting to get a clear-looking display of your desktop and regular applications. Windows 10 will usually be able to return all your desktop icons to their original locations. Older versions of Windows may leave them all grouped together from right-to-left.

♦ You’ll get the best results if you go into your graphics card’s own settings (Nvidia control panel, AMD Catalyst control center or Intel Graphics Adapter settings) and find the options for screen scaling. Set it so that scaling is performed on the GPU, and set it to maintain the aspect ratio. This will help keep the image from being distorted or stretched. Remember that not all resolutions will work well with MSTS, and not all will scale well. It takes some experimentation. Also, of course, many versions of Intel graphics won’t work at all with MSTS, and some implementations of AMD drivers and Catalyst Control Center need a patch to work with MSTS. Nvidia graphics chipsets are still the most reliable for MSTS as well as many other older DirectX games.

Fifteen Years of MSTS

Microsoft Train Simulator is turning 15 years old, and it’s still going strong. Not bad for software that’s officially listed by Microsoft as “unsupported” by Windows Vista and later versions. But it’s still possible to run it in Windows 10 on its own, and Open Rails will keep MSTS content alive for the foreseeable future.

How far have we come? Well, just for fun, here are a couple of screenshots. (Click the images to see the full versions.)

The first is the original MSTS Marias Pass route, from the cab of the default Dash 9.MSTS ShelbyNext is the same spot on Marias Pass 5 (A more modern re-worked version of the Marias Pass route) from a modern cabview of the Dash 9, and taken in Open Rails.Open Rails ShelbyQuite an improvement!

Windows 10 and MSTS

Windows 10 is out, and of course the question to ask is, “Can it still run MSTS, and how well?”

Windows 10 does run MSTS and in fact it runs it quite well!

There are two ways you can begin running MSTS under Win10; one way is to upgrade your current Windows 7 or 8 installation to Windows 10. In that case, everything will simply continue working normally. The other way is to install a fresh copy of Windows 10 and then re-install MSTS, and restore your routes and trains from backup.

Either way, you’ll find that MSTS runs quite well under Windows 10.

Continue Reading…

Route Riter Final Version – 7.6.26

Route Riter has been, and still is, the must-have utility for maintaining an MSTS installation. Mike Simpson, the author, stopped updating it with version 7.6.26.

Another programmer and trainsim hobbyist convinced Mike to release the source code to him for continuing development. In itself, that’s not a bad thing.

Unfortunately, a couple of bad things have subsequently happened.

First, the follow-on version of Route Riter (7.7.x) initially garnered reports of installation problems and bugs.

Second, the programmer who holds the source code became involved in some unpleasant and retaliatory behavior at Elvas Tower and TrainSim. It very nearly caused Elvas Tower to shut down the forums. Since then, accusations have flown, bad behavior has blossomed, and in general a dark cloud has settled over the MSTS/Open Rails world.

Right now, as of the date of this post, the only version of Route Riter that is positively known by the trainsimming community to be reliable, simply through sheer numbers of satisfied users, is version 7.6.26.

The download page for the newer version, not released by Mike Simpson, contains a “Buy Now” link for US $20.00. The download, however is free. The current programmer apologized in a forum post that there was a problem with the web page’s shopping cart function. However, the problem has not been corrected yet.

Version 7.6.26 can be downloaded from Mike Simpson’s website HERE.

If Mike’s website or link ever goes away, the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine has cataloged the download. Here are two working links which will let you download Route Riter 7.6.26:

Link 1, based on the latest version of Mike’s Site: Wayback Machine Link 1

Link 2, based on an older version of the site — which may compose better in your browser: Wayback Machine Link 2

Currently, I can only advise using version 7.6.26. Subsequent versions are NOT authored or supported my Mike Simpson, Route Riter’s original author. Subsequent versions have not been extensively tested in the trainsimming community, and, as such are not widely trusted.

Editorial Note: Route Riter version 7.6.26 and earlier is the work of Mike Simpson and no one else. Any DMCA-related claims pertaining to version 7.6.26 and earlier are solely in Mike Simpson’s hands. No other parties should be allowed to lay any claims to version 7.6.26 or earlier. With respect to version 7.6.26 and earlier, this website does not recognize any DMCA claims from any party other than its creator, Mike Simpson. Rights to subsequent versions may be held by other parties. This post does not link to any subsequent versions. The MSTS Roundhouse does NOT endorse any version of Route Riter beyond 7.6.26.

Java and Route Riter

Mike Simpson’s Route Riter is the go-to utility for both Open Rails and MSTS for checking and fixing rolling stock and route files, plus it has an invaluable set of tools for route builders and a good consist editor. It also includes the TSUtil suite and provides an interface to the TSUtil tools inside the Route Riter interface. TSUtil, however, needs Java to run, and that’s added some extra manual configuration steps to get it working in modern versions of Windows and Java.

The most common problem is that, after installing Route Riter or after taking a Java update with an existing, working Route Riter installation, you get an error when Route Riter Starts that says “You do not have a Java Runtime system” and Route Riter won’t work. It sounds bad, what’s really happening is usually fairly simple to fix.

Continue Reading…

Windows 8 and MSTS

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:

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Memory for MSTS – Accessing Memory Space Beyond 2GB

There was an active discussion some time ago on the TrainSim.com forum about a means to increase MSTS performance by increasing the memory space it can access beyond 2GB — the normal limit for a 32-bit application. It is possible, and it can have surprisingly good results, particularly on a computer with limited resources due to the way Windows manages memory.

Continue Reading…

Migrating MSTS

In the time I spend on the TrainSim.com forums, I’ve noticed a repeating “theme” of forum members and MSTS users — new and old — discussing the (sometimes daunting) task of migrating an MSTS installation to a new computer or through the process of upgrading the operating system on an existing one. Re-installing MSTS doesn’t have to be the only way to do it; in fact, it’s often far simpler to move or backup/restore MSTS to a new location without re-installing everything from scratch. It does take a bit of careful work and attention to detail, but with some preparation it can be done with a minimum of fuss.

Read on in the Tutorials section for more…