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Xeshra: I think no one can really help you because there is simply as good as nobody using 8.1...
A minority is still using Win 7, the biggest customer base is using Win 10 and a bit lesser than that is using Win 11,

Although your idea of a "working PC" with lot of installs i do consider a great idea,

Officially it is not considered to be "supported" but that does not mean there is not maybe a workaround. We simply can not test it for you.

... and for long term i would try to move it over to a Win 10 system, ... as hard as it sounds.
I can now answer my own question. I bought the deluxe version for PC on gog.

It is working fine in windows 8.1 pro (with media center for dvd playback), after disabling the gog overlay.

My specs are on the lower end cpu wise, so chances are good for other people. This machine is a custom build right into my furniture, specialized for silence.

The 4 core Intel Celeron CPU N3150 at 1.60GHz base frequency with only a Burst Frequency of 2.08 GHz should not be able to perform as good as it does. This PC started its life as a passive media player in the living room.

As my previous gaming PC got to old, I put 16GB Ram in it. Disabled the internal intel gpu and used my nvidia graphics card, now a Palit GeForce GTX 1650 KalmX. Internal sata Bluray writer, 3x4TB hdd, 1x1TB hdd, ssd for the system and current games, external usb3 hdd for backup. Original xbox one gamepad, but not directly connected via cable or bluetooth but a 8bitdo usb dongle, works great especially after a disconnect. Connected to 2 big philips ambilight 3D full hd TVs and a philips full hd 27" computer monitor.

I can use part of my Ram for an internal Ramdisk. This is even faster than any internal SSD, e.g.
"5,7G Unreal Tournament 2004", "6,3G Crysis_1", "5,7G StarCraft", "2,0G Diablo2".

I think performance wise this system is comparable to a PS3-PS4.

New games will not run, but my task is to preserve a working environment for my classic games.

I literally have thousands of old PC games, this machine is good enough for them, ready to go. CP/M, DOS games, win 3, 95, 98, 2000, XP. The amount of work and time to find and implement Patches for higher widescreen resolutions, undocumented registry entries, bugfixes, updates, mods, several runtimes of dev. kits, NET, etc.

e.g. thanks to geofront the japanese and chinese versions for Legend of Heroes - 04 - Zero no Kiseki - Trails from Zero and Legend of Heroes - 05 - Ao no Kiseki - Trails to Azure, years later I got the gog versions too.

Foolish to even try an update of this machine to windows 10 or 11 and to expect everything will be fine. My first computer was a DIY ZX81 kit. Migrations in the past to newer PCs in the last 40 years have taught me to not underestimate the amount of work.

I am a far cry away from the amount of games someone like owns, but I can relate to the problems involved to preserve the PC part of his collection.

My next gaming PC will be a fresh start for new games on actual hardware, just after I finished my backlog (and don't mention my PS4 pro backlog).

have fun, Frank
This is really great stuff, kinda the things i got in mind. The only issue is that this old PC simply will not live forever and if you start totally new on a fresh PC then this PC can only handle the newest stuff and the old one may fade away someday.

My vision is to have my archive on the same system and same PC, and no matter how, make it run somehow. So far i basically suceeded doing so, with all the games i love. It indeed was a lot of work. no "Steam user" may even understand because there is a lot of custom inside that you can not really "just download and then done with". Maybe if we take Skyrim as an example, fully loaded with mods... maybe this may give some picture how "custom" works. It can never be "out of the box" or just be downloaded with a single click and achievements is no matter at all. The biggest achievement is to get all this custom to run on a machine the way i enjoy it with the best graphic and performance possible. It is another "dream" not the dream of a ape, the dream of someone who really got a vision and the demand of extraordinary quality on any spot.

Surely one of the games that gave me a high amount of work was "Star Wars KOTOR 1&2 with all the custom possible", finally i was able to get a great result which is close to the original, just extremely enhanced on the technical and content terms. Another example is Baldurs Gate 1&2 with the old "original fan made content" and mods, not the new enhanced version. In order to get it to run properly and as close to the original as possible, just with way enhanced graphic quality. it was a lot of work...
But of course even Japanese games such as The Legend of Heroes are part of my achieve: For example a fully modded Final Fantasy 7 with the best graphic and mods possible and even DRM unlocked. Or Final Fantasy 9 completley overhauled on many terms. Or Freespace 2 in the very best condition... i could go on near endless... just to get a glimpse what i "work on".

So i do really understand you but, neither do we have the same taste nor do we have the exact same approach; but in general there is a lot of similarities. And of course, i have the full Legend of Heroes Series installed, up to Trails into Reverie (as the newest entry).
Post edited July 28, 2023 by Xeshra