Launching Myst Masterpiece Edition on XP and Vista

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As a great fan of all things Myst, I was upset to find it no longer worked. Are you having the same problems? I investigated and tinkered and rejoiced when I got this game, first released in 1993, to run on my shiny new Windows Vista computer. Huzzah! This guide might help you too.

To summarise Myst Masterpiece Edition, Myst and Riven are struggling to load on modern Windows XP and Windows Vista machines. Newer releases of QuickTime get in the way too. There is a way to get Myst Masterpiece Edition working - and this is it.

As with many older computer games, Windows XP would fail miserably to allow us to relive our nostalgic joys.
Vista is even worse, as it removes even more support for DOS boxes and introduces User Account Control (UAC) that can cause any program that is unaware of this security feature to crash if it tries to access protected resources.

Now Myst Masterpeice Edition is a Windows game, and so loss of DOS support isn't going to upset us. Vista's UAC can upset file saves and restores, and for reasons best left to experts to tell you - natively running Myst under either Vista or XP causes it to crash on loading.

However - there is hope. I own a Vista Buisness computer and while my hours away playing Myst and other old computer games to keep my self happy - and you can too!

The steps required to get Myst up and running are not the simplest in the world - but are fully reversible and manageable by any Windows user out there - I promise!

The first hurdle is usually installing a game - thankfully, with Myst it's as easy as inserting the CD and clicking Install on the Autorun menu. Perfect. It will ask you if you wish to install QuickTime 4 and DirectX 6.1. An XP and Vista machine will have a newer version of DirectX so you can avoid that step. QuickTime 4 will probably be bested by a newer QuickTime installation, especially if you have iTunes. In here lies a serious problem that I will talk you round soon.

Once the game is installed, click the shortcut on the Start Menu. The screen will flicker and get upset as it shifts to 640x480 resolution. If you use the Vista Aero interface that will revert to basic aswell. In my experience, you'll get no further than this, the game will crash and the desktop will revert to your normal resolution.
<Should your desktop remain trapped at 640x480 resolution, it can be hard to change it back as XP and Vista are designed to run at a minimum of 800x600 and so dialog boxes can disappear off screen. If you get in trouble press the Windows Key then "U", "U" to shutdown an XP machine or Ctrl+Alt+Del in Vista to get to the service screen and you'll be able to get to the shutdown option at the bottom-right.>

To get the game to load, you need to force Windows to run the game in compatibility mode, specifically as compatible for Windows 98. To do this find the Myst icon on your start menu and right click it. Choose properties and then select the Compatibility tab from the dialog that appears.

In this tab, tick "Run this program in compatibility mode for:" and then choose Windows 98/Windows ME from the drop down list. Then choose "run in 640x480 resolution" to smooth the resolution change. In Vista it's also worth choosing "Run this program as Administrator" so that the game runs with elevated permissions and can access files and system resources without restrictions <this will cause UAC to ask for Administrator credentials to approve Myst each time it runs, if you don't know your Admin password for UAC elevation you may want to risk running Myst in standard user mode>

OK the Dialog and try running Myst again from the shortcut you just edited. It should load now, but you may have another hurdle to jump yet... fingers crossed. You will either see the Red Orb and Cyan Entertainment videos followed by the intro video, then jump into the Myst Age and you can stop reading this Guide - or - you'll get a black screen with a hand mouse pointer and the sound of wind... and nothing more... drat!

Time to stop blaming Bill Gates, it's not his fault - It's Steve Jobs'. We now have QuickTime to blame. Myst relies heavily on QuickTime as it's all pre-rendered, and for some reason, version 7.4 of QuickTime (and possibly earlier installments of QuickTime version 7) refuse to run Myst. Tragic. What is the solution? Uninstall QuickTime and install and older version. This is OK, unless you use iTunes, which requires QuickTime 7.1.4 or better. So choose, iTunes or Myst? You can easily repair iTunes by jumping over to Apple's website and downloading the latest iTunes installation package which will rapidly repair your iPod's mothership be reinstalling QuickTime 7.4, tragically this once again kills off Myst.

Well - it's not perfect, but it works, and here's a step-by-step...

  1. Uninstall the latest version of QuickTime.
    In XP: Start Menu -> Control Panel -> Add or Remove Programs. Select QuickTime. Uninstall
    In Vista: Start Menu -> Control Panel -> Programs and Features. Select QuickTime. Uninstall
  2. You are now QuickTime free. iTunes is still there and intact, but will spit up an error message complaining of the loss of it's brother in arms.
  3. Install an older version of QuickTime. You need to stick to a version that is no better than QuickTime 6.5.4
    QuickTime 4 is on the Myst Masterpiece Edition CD (Run "<Your CD Drive Letter>:\QUICKTIMEINSTALLER.EXE")
    QuickTime 6.5.4 can be found on the web with a bit of hunting - one source is
    I would recommend getting as close to 6.5.4. as you can.
  4. Play Myst.
    Myst will now run like a dream and you can explore a game that is still deservedly the best selling computer game of all time.
  5. Finish Myst - Ahhh - that was good, now get Riven!
  6. Restore iTunes by jumping over to Apple's website and getting the latest iTunes installer. It will ask you if you wish to repair your iTunes installation. Saying yes will put the latest QuickTime back on your machine while retaining your iTunes store settings etc.
  7. Send the following email to Apple:
    "Dear Mr. Jobs,
      Yes, your iPods are beautiful, your iPhone desirable and that slinky new MacBook Air is genius but why have you destroyed Myst!?!?!?!? There are over 5 million units in existance and all it needed was what, keeping in a thousand lines of code or so? That wouldn't have hurt - the QuickTime installation is now larger than Windows 95. Come on! Please ensure that QuickTime 7.4.1 reinstates Myst's happy videos. Thanks"

This guide should also get Riven and the original Myst under Windows to run as well. Let me know!



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