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wowexec locks up on 16 bit game program setup

Posted on 2007-11-23
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I have upgraded to Windows XP SP2 several months ago.  I am now trying to install some games on the PC via CD.  These are older games which all ran fine under SP1.  Now the the install locks up and in task manager I see "wowexec" indented.  This has happened with several games include Arthur, Crayola, and Lego Stunt Rally.  I am on XP Pro and have tried running the programs in Windows 95 compatibility mode.  I have reviewed the similarily titled question "wowexec.exec locks up on 16 bit game program setup" here on experts exchange but it did not solve the problem.

Note: I also reviewed the autoexec.net and config.nt files (and they were correct), per MS KB 324767

Thank you in advance.
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Question by:steverino99d
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☠ MASQ ☠ earned 500 total points
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Wowexe effectively allows 16-bit APIs to run in XP but it also obeys the same rules as 16-bit Windows.

There are two main issues that cause it to stall in Task Manager:

1) Path length
Path lengths to 16-bit programs must be less than 128 characters
(So for example if you are in C:|Documents and settings\My computer\Local settings\ you are already short of characters!)

2) Stuck in memory
wowexe needs to be called when your 16-bit app launches.  If it is already in memory it will hang.
You can force it to close when you exit the app by editing the registry:

As admin:
Navigate to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\WOW

Change the value of
DefaultSeparateVDM,
To 'Yes'

TBH though if you have more than 1GB of RAM and you are using XP Pro SP2 I would consider running your older games in a virtual PC environment under Win98SE (assuming you have a disk for this)
See details on the M$ site: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/virtualpc/default.mspx

It is actually very simple to set up (takes about as much time as installing Windows 98) and then allows you to "hibernate" the PC and return to games later.
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