My recommendation to WinXP owners who want to play classic games (or any game older than four years, really) is simple:
1. Buy Windows 98 Second Edition. It is still commercially sold by Microsoft. Then download and install the full Internet Explorer 6, as it comes with all the updates you’ll need.
2. Buy an ATI Radeon. ATI’s drivers have always been much less troublesome than NVidia’s, only increasing the already good value for money of their products. Take note that Nvidia’s last 2 Win98/ME driver releases simply and fundamentally do not work. Their previous release, v. 56,64, will work but not with DirectX 9 games.
The above information shouldn’t be considered all-inclusive. All the same, I’ve conducted tests on several different PC’s which support these statements.