Of the 60 games we tested only 12 of them couldn't be made to work; though the other way to look at that is that one fifth of all the games we tried out failed to work. It's kind of depressing that we can look at that statistic and think that it isn't all that bad, because it really is far from ideal.
To be completely fair though, there may still be ways to get some of these incompatible games running under Windows 7 which we just aren't aware of. PC gaming may be a difficult and truculent beast to work with sometimes, especially when it comes to compatibility and crashes, but it's also a platform with a very lively and knowledgeable community.
There may be fan patches available which we aren't aware of or, as we knew the case to be with LucasArts' The Secret of Monkey Island emulators or virtual machines to run the game on modern PCs. ScummVM isn't the only application of it's type, so if you're desperate to get Thief: The Dark Age working on Windows 7 then don't give up hope.
Even if there aren't specific, tailor-made programs to help get your favourite retro games working on modern systems then there are still plenty of options.
Programs like DOSBox can provide compatibility for many very old games, especially ones originally designed for Windows 95 or built to run through DOS. It's worth noting that the XP compatibility mode made available by the program troubleshooter doesn't seem to help out an awful lot though. Only one of the 60 games we tested actually had any benefit from this option – Call of Duty 2. It's always a good first step to try this option if you're having compatibility problems, but we wouldn't honestly expect it to solve all your problems.
On the whole though, we don't think we've had a massive amount of compatibility issues with Windows 7 and the number of incompatible games certainly isn't much higher than we've had with Windows Vista. Many of the games on this list, like No One Lives Forever and Thief: The Dark Project, don't work on Windows Vista any better than they do on Windows 7. In fact, most of the games we tested which do work on Windows Vista, but don't on Windows 7 are the ones which appear to suffer from specific OpenGL problems – Quake Wars, Jedi Knight 2 - that we hope will be fixed in a driver update.
That's not really very surprising though, as Windows 7 shares the same kernel as Windows Vista and is essentially just an optimised and cosmetically overhauled version of Windows Vista for the most part. There are new features in Windows 7 obviously, but few of them are of any real note as far as these games are concerned. It seems to be the general rule that, if a game worked on your Windows Vista system then it'll work on Windows 7 too, assuming you don't run into driver problems or change your hardware around too much.
The results we've shown do paint a tempting picture for those of us who might have been on the fence about Windows 7, reflecting the fact that most modern and classic games can be made to work on the OS – and those that can't probably don't work on Vista either. If you, like I, were tempted to resist the upgrade to Windows 7 purely because you were worried about losing the ability to play your old games then these results should be enough to finally tempt you from XP towards Windows 7.
If you are one of the few still running an older OS, like Windows XP or even Windows 98, then you'll have to weigh the arguments carefully though, however we'd argue that what 7 offers as a whole is a strong weight in its direction.