How to Install Starcraft on Windows 7


Another post in my ongoing series of How-To segments on how to get old games to work on Windows 7. Starcraft 1

Thanks to the guys at Blizzard this tutorial doesn’t involve that many steps. Basically all we have to do is download the latest version of Starcraft and do a simple registry hack to fix the color mode. All the hard work with permisions and such are done for us by the new Blizzard installer.

First off this is for the first Starcraft game, and the goal for this tutorial is to have this game 100% playable without having to run this game as admin, or by using any weird compatibility settings (well except one small reg key). Second, this method does not require any of the original discs so if you lost it or if you have annoying cousins that like to break or scratch your discs, you can still install Starcraft. Third, in order to use this method you absolutely NEED a VALID Starcraft 1 CD-Key!! This will not work with pirated or generated CD-Keys. None of my tutorials are designed to work with pirated games. If you want to pirate this game go ask somewhere else!!

Step 1. Install Starcraft from Battle.net

While there may not be many steps, they sure are time intensive. If you already know how to install this game from battle.net or you don’t like the battle.net way and want to do it by yourself, then you can just skip on ahead to step 2 which fixes the color issue.

  • Ok in order to download anything from Battle.net you need an account there. If you don’t already have one, go there now to set one up, they are free.
  • Now that that’s done and you confirmed your E-mail address and all that nonsense, you gotta find your Starcraft CD-Key.
    • Ohh you did find it? Great now go here to enter it in so you can download Starcraft: Anthology. Anthology is just what they named Starcraft: Broodwar. Which is nice cause I didn’t buy BroodWar I only bought Starcraft, but here I am getting the expansion for free, thanks Blizzard!! Ok hopefully it took your CD-Key and now there should be an option to download it for Windows. Be sure to copy your NEW CD-Key as this is the only one that works on the Battle.net version of Starcraft.
    • Can’t find your CD-Key? Well thats too bad, but all is not lost you can still buy one from the same site. Here’s a link. Be sure to choose Starcraft: Anthology.
    • If you just bought the game it basically does the same thing and gives you a link to download the installer. Be sure to copy the cd-key so you can use it with the installer.
  • When you click on the link for the game it downloads the installer that downloads the game’s installer, I know it sounds dumb but that’s how this stuff usually works. Choose a place where you want to download the installer and click next, this process is pretty much the same as any MMORPG downloader so you just have to sit and wait for it to download.
  • The actual installer is fairly simple, basicly just click next and enter in the new CD-Key when it asks. Then when every EULA is accepted and all the Nexts pressed, you wait for it to install, once it’s done there should only be a few Nexts left. Then BAM a link shows up on your desktop and Starcraft is now ready to go…

BUT WAIT!! Now the graphics are all weird, WTF?? Ohh wait, it plays fine in the playable part of the game, only the menus are messed up. That should be good enough right?? NO!! Only lazy people stop here! If you’re like me and demand FULL compatibility, go to the next step.

Step 2: Compatibility hack.

Ok before I start this I am going to explain what these files do and why they are needed. If you have windows XP you do not need this hack and the game should already work fine for you. I don’t think Vista needs this either so try the game first before you do this.

Ok all these files do is activate a hidden compatibility mode that is only needed for a few games. It tells Windows that this game requires a custom pallet for it’s 256 color mode. Windows is supposed to detect this automatically, but for some reason it doesn’t work well with a few games, this is a very intermittent problem so there are many different things that might set it off and just as many things that might fix it. This is the one trick that seems to always fix it.

  • There are two reg files, one for 32bit versions of windows, and one for 64bit versions. Only open the reg file for the version of windows that you have. If it’s Windows 7 you probably have 64bit. But if you only have 3gigs or lower for ram it’s probably 32bit. If you choose the wrong one it shouldn’t do anything bad, I just don’t want to add unnecessary clutter to your registry. Right click and save link as to download…

32bit Windows 7 Registry key

64bit Windows 7 Registry Key

  • Just open the file and allow the changes to be merged into your Registry.

And there you go, the game should now work fine. Sometimes you have to restart in order to see any difference. This same trick should also work with Diablo II, but I have yet to test that and you also need different reg files. So that’s probably what I’m going to work on for my next tutorial.

  1. #1 by Daysaver on April 20, 2012 - 12:31 am

    I didn’t bother with the registry key. Everything else worked beautifully. The only thing that looked off was the Blizzard movie at the very beginning. Blizzard is very cool for letting me get some use out of this CD key I’ve been keeping for years.

  2. #2 by David on April 24, 2012 - 11:38 pm

    Thank you for this, the registry for windows 7 64 bit worked flawlessley and didn’t event need a reboot.

  3. #3 by Mike on August 20, 2012 - 12:31 pm

    Thanks :) . Starcraft brings a lot of good memories and here I’ve found a solution for my problems with the game (Battle.net was the answer). It works :)
    I only hope that registry key won’t cause any problems. Once again thanks, I can play Starcraft again :)

  4. #4 by Maung on October 18, 2012 - 5:03 pm

    I had the Starcraft CD but couldn’t find the disc anywhere. Thanks for saving me from trashing my bedroom, as well as for the expansion pack :D . Cheers custom PC and Blizzard.

  5. #5 by CB on December 16, 2012 - 3:20 pm

    I downloaded the Starcraft Anthology from Blizzard a few months ago and it was working for a while, then it started freezing in this one particular level during some dialogue. So I tried to re-install it. Now the Installer errors out right at the end saying it can’t rename the temp files, and the install fails. I don’t know what is different about now and the first time I installed it this way but it’s not working anymore.

    • #6 by Clint Theriault on December 16, 2012 - 4:59 pm

      My guess is that some file corruption occurred that is causing your error. Those temp files are locking up your game, and possibly even your system.
      Which temp files are it getting suck on, does it even say?
      I would also try a chkdsk /r and maybe a run of ccleaner.

  6. #7 by Anon on July 7, 2013 - 10:24 am

    Just to clarify to everyone, you DO NOT NEED a valid StarCraft I CD-key to apply the registry fix. Obviously you would need a valid CD-key to play on Battle.net. So the mention about this ONLY working with a valid key is bullshit. Typically anyone browsing to this website would have gotten here by realizing the game doesn’t play properly on Win7 and wants to find a fix, REGARDLESS of how it was installed (Pirated or Legit).

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