Jun 27, 2007
My Digital Life Editorial Team

Workaround to This System Does Not Support Full Screen Mode in Windows Vista

Windows Vista takes away a lot of support and convenience for the sheer attractive of flashy user interface. One major feature is the ability of open full screen window for command prompt shell in Windows Vista. When you attempt open or run DOS .com applications, .bat batch scripts or games that relies on command prompt, and including cmd.exe itself, you will encounter the following error message:

This system does not support fullscreen mode. Choose “Close” to terminate the application.

The lack of support for full screen DOS command prompt in Windows Vista is a big annoyance especially for those who still playing games for DOS and Windows 3.1/9x era, use legacy software such as WPDOS or programmers who frequently switch to command prompt to use DOS based programming language such as PASCAL.

There is no simple solution to this no support for full screen window in Windows Vista. In almost all possible workarounds, you are almost guaranteed that your Vista will be broken in some way, at least on the part on Windows Aero. You will lose the nice Aero Glass interface if you attempt any of these trick, plus other unknown side effects.

Workaround to Run or Open Full Screen Window Mode

Workaround 1: Use XDDM driver instead of WDDM driver for video graphics adapter

In another word, install the Windows XP video card driver for use in Vista. If the video graphics card hardware supports Windows XP driver, you can download the Windows XP driver for your video hardware and install it under Vista. However, be warned that using XP driver on display adapter may crash your Vista system randomly, so save your works before proceeding and use with care.

Note: This solution has been recommended by Microsoft in KB926657.

To install a Windows XP video driver under Vista, just follow the procedure listed in the guide below. The steps should work for both NVIDIA and ATI video graphics accelerator card.

  1. Download the Windows XP driver installer for your graphics card from NVIDIA or ATI.
  2. Run the installation setup program just downloaded. Confirm any User Account Control permission warning when prompted.
  3. The installer will first extract and unpack the files required by installation to proceed to a folder/directory. Note down the path to the folder. For ATI, the folder for these installation files usually located in a directory with a name that resembles C:\ATI\SUPPORT\7-5_xp_dd_46743\Driver or C:\ATI\SUPPORT\7-5_xp_dd_ccc_wdm_46743\Driver, with the only different been the number to indicate the version and build number of the driver.

    Install Path of ATI driver

    Similarly, NVIDA driver pack will also unpack itself to a extraction folder, normally named according to the structure of C:\NVIDIA\Win2KXP\94.24 or some similar number.

    NVIDIA install path

  4. You must proceed pass the above screen in order for the extraction of installation files to take place. Don’t worry about clicking on “Next” button, as the installer will prompt a critical stop error message somewhere in the process because the setup detected that the operating system in use is not Windows 2000 or XP. The setup program and its associated drivers are designed to run only on Windows 2000 or XP. The installation will be terminated.
  5. Cancel the driver installation when the error message is prompted. Actually once you click on OK button you will exit automatically.

    XP Driver in Vista Install Error

  6. Using Windows Explorer, navigate to the directory that contains the unpacked installer files.
  7. Right click on Setup.exe file, and choose Properties item from the right click contextual menu.

    Properties of Setup

  8. Select Compatibility Mode tab. Tick the checkbox next to “Run this program in compatibility mode” and choose Windows XP Service Pack 2 from the dropdown menu. Click OK when done.

    Setup Properties Compatibility Tab

  9. Double-click on Setup.exe to run the installer, and install the XP driver in Vista.
  10. Reboot the system, and you should be able to open or run program and command prompt in full-screen mode.

Workaround 2: Use Standard VGA Graphics Adapter video graphics driver

Similar with method 1, but use Vista’s built-in Standard VGA Graphics Adapter driver, which offers greater stability and compatibility with Vista, but a lot less functionality and features support. The following steps guide you on how to install the Standard VGA Graphics Adapter in Vista.

  1. Right-click on the Windows desktop and then choose Personalize from the pop up contextual menu.
  2. Click on Display Settings link from the Personalization dialog window.
  3. On the Monitor tab of Display Settings window, click on Advanced Settings… button.
  4. If you’re not already on the Adapter tab, click on Adapter tab to activate it. Then click on the Properties button under the Adapter Type section. Allow UAC permission request.

    Properties of Video Adapter

  5. On the Display Adapter Properties window, click on Driver tab.
  6. Click on Update Driver… button. Then select “Browse My Computer for Driver Software” option.

    Browse for Vista driver

  7. Click on “Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer” option.

    Pick from a list of device drivers

  8. Select and highlight Standard VGA Graphics Adapter from the list when prompted to select a device driver you want to install for this hardware, then click on Next.

    Standard VGA Graphics Adapter

  9. Windows Vista will install the new standard VGA video driver to replace the original driver for your graphics accelerator. If your monitor goes blank (no signal), wait five minutes, then power down your computer and restart it normally. If your monitor does not go blank, wait while the driver is installed.
  10. Click on Close or OK button on all dialog boxes repetitively until you’re back to the desktop or your computer restarted.
  11. Restart your computer if you’re not prompted and have not already done so.

Once computer rebooted, you should be able to open programs or command prompt shell in full screen window. You may need to set the resolution again, as everything related to display settings is likely to be reset.

If you want to reverse this procedure and install back the video display card’s manufacturer driver, follow the same instructions again, but choose the option to let Windows automatically install the appropriate software for your system instead of browsing your computer for driver software. If you unable to do so by clicking on Properties button on Adapter tab, go to Device Manager and directly select Update Driver Software on right click context menu.

Workaround 3 – Using DOSBox

DOSBox is a Intel x86 and DOS emulator for Windows. The open source DOSBox application runs up a shell window which emulates a DOS environment complete with sound, graphics, mouse, modem, etc., and allows legacy DOS apps and games to be ran and play on it. DOSBox handles all requests between Windows and the DOS window, memory allocation, control CPU speed, and allow tweaking of sound card emulation, graphics type, key mapping, mouse sensitivity, resolution, full screen mode and etc.

Althougn DOSBox cannot add Windows features to DOS programs that are run on DOS systems, and some features of DOS in native mode are not present, but its usefulness is still great in allowing almost all currently-available 32-bit versions of Microsoft Windows – Windows 95, 95b, 98, 98SE, ME, NT4, XP, 2000, 2003, Vista and 2008 to run legacy apps and games.

DOSBox in Vista

Some tweaks and configuration have to be done in order to get DOSBox running to play your games or launch your old application software. Basic Setup and Installation of DosBox wiki provides a guide on how to use the DOSBox. As DOSBox emulates DOS, you will have to deal with lots of command line syntaxes in command shell. If you’re not familiar with command prompt, there are a few GUI frontend interface for DOSBox, which presents all settings in typical Windows interface, and allows users to attach different profiles with different configuration optimal for different DOS games or programs. Such front ends include D-Fend, D.O.G. and DBGL: DOSBox Game Launcher

Note that while using DOSBox, it’s best to disable User Account Control to get the best performance and so that DOSBox can properly emulates sound, VGA color and CPU speed. During the DOS era there is simply not such thing as functionality restriction based on user account and user level, thus any limitation may cause problem to emulated apps.

Another issue is Windows Sticky Keys, an accessibility features for physically-handicapped users. Sticky Keys are activated by pressing a particular sequence or combination of keys which a normal user seldom and unlikely stumble across, such as pressing Shift key 5 times continuously. But these sequence of key pressing may be needed during DOS gameplay. Worse is that DOSBox doesn’t handle this properly and it doesn’t partition keyboard or mouse activity away from the host OS. So you properly need to disable Sticky Keys permanently so that it won’t suddenly appear and disrupt game play.

Again, using DosBOX and/or its front-end GUI may also caused some apps or games to suffer from abnormal behavior such as system randomly crashes or refuses to run altogether.

  • Nando

    Excelente el artículo…como dice Rubick, yo también pude resolver mi problema con el workaround 3, usando el DOSBOX. Gracias Rubick, y a todos…un saludo…

  • Nando

    I would like to thank you all for the recommendations and comments on resolving this problem. I was able to resolve it via the Workaround No 3. Again, thank you all…

  • emi

    The Workaround 2 works fine for Win 7. Thanks

    • lrony

      There is option 4 almost similar with option 2 :
      1. Just Disable the current VGA Card you're using now, Win 7 wil automatically switch to VGA standar
      2. Run your dos app, CTRL+ENTER will get your FULL SCREEN

      For not bother to always disable the current VGA Card each time you want to run your dos app,
      you can combine it with devcon.exe (command line disable and enable device from microsoft) in a batch file (I tried this one for one of my dos app in Windows 7). btw, worked on notebook too, so I think this method will work flawlessly.
      download devcon from:
      http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb

  • Kiran

    Hey your article helped me in a very wonderful way..

    Thnx a lot..

    Stay in touch,,,

  • Hannah

    How on earth do I reverse this! Help!

  • Kristle Baruffi

    Thanks for your wonderful article! It has been very helpful.

  • rMCkie

    not really in line with the post but i would personally recommend using virtual pc with windows 98se on it., perfect for old games and if you can run windows 7 stable enough then the extra processing power to VPC windows 98 wont strain your system at all

  • Zaksis

    attemped numer 2, he screen went blank. I restarted after 10 minutes and the moniter reained blank. It is apparently loading into windows because I can shut the coputer down with the keyboard (windows button, left, left, left, enter). The computer is a reativly new acer aspire, and the moniter is a somewhat older ACER LCD moniter.

  • http://www.ggtm-club.co.cc Dr_Nick

    Well, I only get that message on my widescreen pc's. The ones that still have a 4:3 monitor-output go fullscreen without any problem,…

    Maybe (if it's possible, cause I know it is on some cards, but not on all), when you switch your output resolution to a 4:3 resolution, so that it gets stretched over your screen, that it'll get tricked hard enough to let you do the same as what I can on my 4:3-monitors? :p

    Haven't tried it myself yet, since my wide-screens don't go 4:3-resolutions, so the problem still remains for a big part, but if you can, try it, it might help,…

    Greetz,

    ~ Dr_Nick.

  • http://www.myspace.com/orion_105 Scott Houdek

    after i downloaded it and run the setup.exe, run the program, i still have to get like MSDOS 6.22 to make that work?

    because i am planning to create Vesa graphic programs and other things.

    the new CEO of Microsoft is sooooooo incompetent, that's way the the company thought it not matter to do so.

    causing more alienating the company's relationship with it's customer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    duh'!

    if "we banned" together to tell Microsoft to change this "problem, you never know until try!

    Thank You.

  • ???

    I don't see Allen's logic. Newest doesn't mean best, and very few computer users want to "go with the flow" of Vista. Vista is less efficient and just a bunch of eye candy. Windows 7 might be the future of computing, but Vista was never part of it.

  • Ben

    ALWAYS system resore before doing this :)

  • Mick

    Couldn't a safe solution to this be to run the program in safe mode. Then it automatically goes to a VGA resolution. I can't test it because I'm only going to buy a Vista machine if my program works in Vista but it does work in Safe mode in XP.

  • Allen

    Firs off i would like to say that, the last time i went to a car website people were not complainging about not being able to use leaded gass… think about it, ok good. so now that we all understand that vista. is a move in a direction. we need to understand that things that dont work in the new efficent envirnment, require emulation to . . . emulate the old technology. so old school logic and easy dos based programs are a thing of the past ( without these reworks ) so go with the flow and dont get left behind.

  • sfseyhan

    i did what is written and my graphic card(ATI 2600HD) is fucked up! it is set to vga now and cant fix it. need solution quick..

  • Mike

    Option 2 worked, great.

    I'd change properties to 80×25 on most programs before using this so the screen

    may go black.

    Thank you very much!

  • whizkid515

    You might want to try Virtual PC 2007 or VirtualBox running MS-DOS. You can also run FreeDOS if you don't have an MS-DOS installation disk.

  • Guus

    Thanks so very much for the tip!

    I wanted to play One Must Fall, one of the first games I ever played and Vista screwed me again.

    Again, thanks guys!

  • whizkid515

    I can't get this to work with a GMA X3100/P965. I extracted the files with 7-Zip and tried running Setup.exe in compatibility mode for Windows XP (SP2). And yes, I did download the correct drivers. There is still a message that the drivers are not supported on this platform.

  • Danv

    I got my Auto-Évaluateur AEMN.exe (a quiz for driver license) working =) with trick #2.

  • Comp Geek

    2nd option works just fine… especially when there's a problem obtaining drivers for ATI from the website… ;-)

  • http://www.microsoft.com John Matthews

    Microsoft Vista is just crap, best to upgrade to Microsoft Windows XP as all these problems were solved way back. Why the hell is Vista still attractive??????

  • sab

    2nd workaround works fine but had to do a system restore to get the original driver back

  • http://mysite.verizon.net/resvyte7/ Sly

    DOSBox works great, I can even get Jazz Jackrabbit to work with it on Windows XP and Vista! I haven't tried it, but it might work on Linux.

  • babi

    I've tried the second solution, but I can't find the "Standard VGA Graphics Adapter" in the list.

    Please can someone helps me?

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  • Chris Hunter

    FUCK WINDOWS VISTA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Yuhong Bao

    Though, BTW, XP added better video support to NTVDM, so there is less need for full-screen.

  • Hoopskier

    "Note that while using DOSBox, it’s best to disable User Account Control to get the best performance and so that DOSBox can properly emulates sound, VGA color and CPU speed."

    There's no reason to disable UAC with DOSBox — if DOSBox has problems as a standard user, then run it as Administrator. But simply having UAC *on* won't hurt DOSBox's performance or have any affect on its emulation.

  • RuBiCK

    Buen workaround el de Dosbox, por que tenia que usar unos programas muy valiosos y antiguos, pero vista no me lo permitia.

    Excelente artículo.

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