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I recently bought the GOG version of MM7, and quickly discovered that if I used the MM7-Rel exe the game ran without any issue (at least for the little I've played so far). If I used the Start menu shortcut or ran the MM7 exe directly, I would get a nasty cracking/popping in the audio at times, no matter what steps I took to fix it : tried disabling 3D audio in the registry, tried every level of acceleration in dxdiag, etc.

I suspect this is entirely due to GOG enforcing Windows 95 Compatibility Mode on MM7 exe, which they do not do with MM7-Rel exe. Interestingly, I get the exact same sound problems if I use Win95 compatibility with MM6, but they are completely absent when I run the game normally.

So I thought, fine, I'll just use MM7-Rel exe. But then I wanted to install Grayface's patch, and it occurred to me that it's only the MM7 exe that he's modifying, and I'm not going to see any of the bug fixes if I use MM7-Rel exe. Sure enough, based on the much sharper sprites that I see when I run MM7 exe, that appears to be the case.

I would really rather not have to choose between the bug fixes / convenience features of the Grayface patch but messed up sound vs an unpatched but listenable game. I know I'm not the only one who's had this issue -- I'm really hoping somebody at GOG will give us the key to remove this Compatibility Mode enforcement: pretty sure that's all it would take to fix the problem. Or if any Windows savvy person out there could tell me how to get rid of it, it would be much appreciated. And just to clarify -- after reading another post where somebody had this issue -- the option to turn off Compatibility Mode is not grayed out; it's just that after you do it and close the window, the exe resets itself to Win 95 mode.

Thanks all.

(Running WinXP SP3)
This question / problem has been solved by Ghorpmimage
Interesting... If I move the MM7 exe file into a different folder, it's no longer forced into compatibility mode. As soon as I put it back in the Might and Magic VII folder, the setting is reapplied. What is that, a script or something?
Those compatibility settings are not forced but selected for all users and therefore cannot be changed individually. What you have to do is to select "change settings for all users" (the button at the very bottom of compatibility tab) and there switch everything off. Once you click ok you will be able to change compatibility settings without any problem.

EDIT: In Win XP the button should be "show settings for all users" (I have polish Win 7 so what I wrote above was my translation but now, I've just checked it)
Post edited January 14, 2013 by Ghorpm
Ghorpm, thanks for the reply. That's interesting about the settings being selected for all users. I wonder if this effectively makes it impossible for XP users to change it, because I do not have a "show settings for all users" option or anything similar on the compatibility tab. I don't think that feature appeared until Vista, but please correct me if I'm wrong. Maybe the location of it in XP is somewhere other than the compatibility tab... ?

Anyway, I've found a simple fix that hopefully won't cause any other problems. I just renamed the mm7 EXE to something else, and the result was the same as moving the file to a different folder: no more persistent Win95 mode, and the game runs fine with no need to disable hardware sound, or tinker with any settings.
There is another way. Open your registry editor (run -> regedit) and try to find the setting which set win95 compatibility. Once again - I don't have win xp at the moment, but in Windows 7 it is: hkey_current_user -> Software -> Microsoft -> Windows NT -> AppCompatFlags -> Layers and there you should have every application that uses compatibility mode. Find mm7 and erase "WIN95". The problem is the path may differ in Win XP. But you can search your registry with "WIN95" keyword and perhaps you will find it.

It's more complicated way than the one you found but should work as well.

You are right. When I was googling for a fix earlier, I came across some site that mentioned that registry location (the exact same path that you said). There were entries there for M&M 1 through 6 on my computer, but no 7, and I didn't think at the time about checking for other keys that might house compatibility settings. However, your last post motivated me :D .
I searched for "appcompat" and found the path at 'HKLM\SOFTWARE \ Microsoft\Windows NT \ CurrentVersion \ AppCompatFlags \ Layers'. Thanks for your suggestion; I like this way better than renaming EXEs, and now I know where to look should something similar happen in the future.
You are welcome! I'm glad that you were able to find it even though my help was incomplete - it's hard to remember all paths in different systems and I don't have any computer with Win XP around to check it. The most important thing, however, is that you can play this great game!