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Installing Halo 2 on Windows XP

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A full tutorial of installing Halo 2 on XP

In this tutorial i will show you how to install and play Halo 2 on Windows XP. This is a advanced tutorial, but i was very careful to write it so anyone could follow it (i hope). If i made mistakes or left something out, please point them out politely and i will fix them. Before we get into it i need to say a few things so this tutorial is not mistakenly removed.

The big question: is this Legal?This always comes up: isn't it illegal to do this? Well, based on the EULA included with the game, to the best of my knowledge this is not illegal... if anyone feels it is and can justify it, i will immediately remove this tutorial. i would like to point out that many other site host tutorials to do this, including youtube and facepunch, and they have not been removed. That being said, follow this tutorial at your own risk. I have read the EULA (End-User License Agreement) from Microsoft that was on my Halo 2 DVD, and there is nothing in it prohibiting the user from using mods or user-made files with this software, nor is there anything limiting or licensing it for a specific operating system. There is the following line: "You may not... work around any technical limitations in the software." At first, this seems to be saying we can not install and run this software on Windows XP. However, by definition that simply means a user may not make Halo 2 function beyond the ability (or capacity) of the software, and its very capable of running on XP/DX9. So, to the best of my knowledge following this tutorial does not violate your EULA. I encourage you to find and read the EULA included on your Halo 2 DVD if you feel the need to, it is located in the 'eula' fonder on your Halo 2 DVD. Is it morally justifiable? Consider their marketing strategy; using Halo 2's popularity to sell Vista when the game can run on XP/DX9 just fine... I'd say its a moral objective to thumb my nose at Microsoft, but that's just me.
So what is illegal?What is illegal is using keygens, torrenting the game, selling modified versions of the game, violating the copyright, using warez, Microsoft's marketing strategy, things like that. If you use such things i am not responsible for what you do or what happens. This tutorial does not use such things.
The important question: what can i expect?If you follow this tutorial you MAY be able to play Halo 2 on you computer using Windows XP. For some reason it does not work for everyone. If it does not work for you, i encourage you to uninstall the game and try again: it took 2 trys for it to run on my new computer. after a successful mod:
  • You will not be able to connect to online games
  • You will be able to sign into Windows Live.
  • You will be able to play the campaign*
  • You will be able to play LAN multiplayer.
*There is a problem with the Gravemind levels loading on XP. I wont post a solution for this problem when i find one that does not violate the EULA or any copyrights. If you cant wait, a Google search will offer solutions.

Step 1: Preparing

You will need a (legal) copy of Halo 2 on DVD with a valid CD key and this file. Please note that this file is one i have used 3 times without a problem, and its hosted on my mediafire account, so rest assured that it does not contain viruses.

Once you have that file downloaded, open is and drag the folder named 'Halo 2 XP Patch' onto your desktop. Close and delete the zipped file, and insert your Halo 2 DVD into the CD/DVD drive on your computer. A pop-up will report a error, just ignore it and click 'ok'.

Step 2: Installing

With your DVD still in the drive, open up the 'Halo 2 XP Patch' folder and find the file called 'install.bat' (or just 'install' if you have Windows set to hide extensions). Right click on this file, and select 'Edit' and a notepad document will open with the following text in it:
Loader.exe D:\Startup.exe

Now open up you computer (using the 'My Computer' icon either on your desktop or on the start menu) and find out what drive letter the DVD is in. If its a letter other than D, replace the D in notepad with that letter, and the File>Save the document. Now double click the file you just edited ('install' or 'install.bat', whichever you see) and the Halo 2 Vista Installation menu will open. If it doesn't, double check that you set the driver letter to the correct letter.

If it did open the installer menu you may see another pop-up asking if you want to use ffdshow (its a video decoder), check 'use once' and press OK. Now then, click on 'Customize Game Install', and select the last option: 'Full install only, do not start' and click 'continue'. Another pop-up may appear saying you should update your video card drivers, just ignore it and click 'Run'.

The game will begin installing. This can take a while, so be patient with it.

After the game finished installing you'll get a message saying the installation is complete, yay, click 'ok' to close it.

Step 3: Patching for XP, Prt 1

This is where you really need to pay attention. First, we need to install several programs manually from the DVD. To do this, go to 'My computer', right click on the CD drive with the 'Halo 2' in it and select 'Open'. Find and open the folder named 'redists'.
  • Find and double click the file called 'XLiveRedist1.0.6027'. This will launch the Windows Live installer, if it says there is already a version of Windows Live installed then cancel the installation. When the installation is complete it may say you need to restart your computer, click 'No'.
  • Back in the 'redists' folder, find and double click the file named 'vcredist'. When this is installing it may seem to freeze, but just wait it out: the status bar doesn't seem to update with the installation. When this finished installing it will simply close.
  • Now is when you should restart your computer. Dont forget to take the DVD out of the CD drive lol.

Step 3: Patching for XP, Prt 2

Now that you have restarted your computer and have found your way back to this tutorial, we need to install a few more files to finish the patch. To do this we will need to open up that 'Halo 2 XP Patch' folder on your desktop, and we will also need to open the folder you installed Halo 2 to. by default, it will have installed to:
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Halo 2

Once you find and open that folder, we will need to copy (i said COPY! not drag, not cut. copy) several files into it from the Patch folder.

In the 'Halo 2 XP Patch' folder, select the following files (hold down the control button to select multipal files at once):

  • dwmapi.dll
  • MFPlat.dll

Copy these and paste them into to 'Halo 2' folder.

Now open the folder called 'Activation' in the 'Halo 2 XP Patch' folder and copy the file MF.dll and paste it into the Halo 2 folder too.

Click the back button in the 'Activation' folder to get back to the 'Halo 2 XP Patch' folder and copy the following files:

  • mf.dll
  • xinput9_1_0.dll

These 2 files need to be pasted into your system32 folder, located here:


If you get a pop-up asking if you want to replace existing files, say no. we just need to make sure they both exist, not that we use these ones.

Step 4: Testing

Now you should have everything installed correctly, so you need to test it out. Open the 'Halo 2 XP Patch' folder if you closed it, and right click on the file named 'run.bat' (or 'run'), and select 'Edit'. This will open in a notepad, and you will see this:

Loader.exe "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Halo 2\halo2.exe"

All you need to do here is change the drive letter if you installed Halo 2 on a hard drive other than 'C'. File>save and double click the file you just edited to launch the game.

At this point a lot of things can happen, including nothing.

  • If nothing happens, double check that the run.bat has the directions to your Halo 2 folder. Note: the run.bat has to stay in the 'Halo 2 XP Patch folder' to work, more on that later.
  • If the game launches and asks for the CD to complete the instalation, go ahead and insert the DVD.
  • If the game launches and Windows Live asks for your CD key, which it should, enter it.
  • If windows live says theres a update for this game, ignore it: you wont be able to install it on XP and it will just close the game with a error

Hopefully the game launched successfully and all is good. Make your Halo 2 profile. You can adjust the settings now if you want, but before you start the playing the there's just one last thing we need to do...

Step 5: the Clean up

Now that you have verified that the game works we need to clean the mess up a little. Open up 'My Computer' and go back to the 'Halo 2' folder. Close the 'Halo 2 XP Patch' folder if you still have it open, and then drag the whole thing from your desktop into the 'Halo 2' folder.

Please note that one of the following is necessary, but its up to you how you want to launch the game.

  • Desktop/Normal Shortcut Open the 'Halo 2 XP Patch' folder (which is inside the Halo 2 folder now) and right click on the 'run.bat' and select Send to>Desktop (Create Shortcut). Close the 'Halo 2 XP Patch' folder, and you will find there's a shortcut for the 'run.bat' on your desktop. Right click on it, and select 'Properties'. Under the 'General' tab change the name to 'Halo 2'. Now go back under the 'shortcut' tab, and click 'Change Icon'. You will get a pop-up saying there is no icon for this file or something like that, ignore it and click ok. Click the 'Browse' button and find the 'Halo 2' folder again, and double click on 'halo2.exe' or 'halo2', whichever you see. Click ok, click ok again, and your shortcut should look just like any other one.
  • Steam Shortcut Open Steam and go to the 'My games' tab. Click on the 'Add non-Steam game...' button located on the lower left part of the Steam window. Click the 'Brwse' Button, and find the 'Halo 2' and double click on 'halo2.exe'. Now click 'Add selected programs' and halo2.exe should appear in your steam games list. Before being able to use it we need to edit it a little, so right click on the 'halo2.exe' game in steam, and select 'Properties'. First thing we need to do is add "Halo 2 XP Patch\run.bat" where 'halo2.exe is in the area under 'Target'. You will see the icon change when you do this, dont worry about it yet. The text under 'Target' should now look something like this:
    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Halo 2\Halo 2 XP Patch\run.bat
    In the 'Start In' area we just need to add "\Halo 2 XP Patch" to the code thats there. The result should look something like this:
    "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Halo 2\Halo 2 XP Patch"
    Now all you need to do is click the 'Change Icon' button, find the 'Halo 2' folder one last time, and double click on 'halo2.exe'. Verify that everything looks right, and then close the properties window and launch the game through steam to see if it works. If it fails to launch, double check the info you entered in the shortcut's properties.

Accessing Live while playing

If you manually download and install the latest update for Halo 2 you can access Live while playing it on XP.

To do this you needed to visit Microsoft Game Studios, click on support, and download "Halo 2 for Vista Latest Update". Save it to your desktop, and run the installer once its finished downloading.

After it installs you will be able to sign into Windows Live while playing.

I will add a tutorial on uninstalling Halo 2 from XP asap

Please be patient or Google it if you can not, it takes time to research and write these.

I hope you were able to follow along, if you need help feel free to PM me and I'll see if i can point you in the right direction. Please to not post this tutorial elsewhere without permission. Thanks for reading.


  • 2y
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    Posted by ZUBIN


    - Can you up load the file that you mentioned?
    Could you email to me?

    Finally managed to find a copy of the file, updated.
    aka [-B-] avatar
    aka [-B-]
  • 3y
    ZUBIN avatar
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    - Can you up load the file that you mentioned?
    Could you email to me?
  • 5y
    Cowwithgun avatar
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    The Link is Broken Guys, I know i am very very late to the Halo 2 Party but i would still love to play.
  • 7y
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    Judo Technical Expert
    Based on the EULA and intellectual property rights laws, I could think of at least two excuses Microsoft could use in a lawsuit. Rather than say this is legal, could you instead use some sort of "to the best of my knowledge this is legal" clause?

    (Namely, in the same way they require a Windows license for use of WMP and other programs, they could argue that a Vista or 7 license is required for Halo 2 as it is more than implied that Vista or 7 is required [and due to debates over WMP, it's been legally established], and general IP laws disallow any form of reverse engineering which these "patches" would fall under.)
    ?????? avatar
  • 7y
    Yay now i can play halo 2

    ... any one know how to play gravemind... mine crashes/ says insert disk when its already in
  • 7y
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    Posted by Teh_Spy

    If this can't play online it's very likely that it's illegal (warez).

    actually its because you are playing it on windows XP. the reason you cant play online is because in order to do so you need to use certain Vista-only files and processes, which simply will not work on XP.

    no warez are distributed, used, or referred to in this tutorial. i will take this down if someone can prove to be that it violates something, but based on the EULA there is nothing that says we cant do this. no copy right is violated doing this.
    aka [-B-] avatar
    aka [-B-]
  • 7y
    Teh_Spy avatar
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    If this can't play online it's very likely that it's illegal (warez).
    "Your mother."
  • 7y
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    Posted by Spy-Checker

    Cool, I always thought it was gay that it was only available for vista.

    Yep... Vistas's shit... that's why they released Win7 so fast


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