For nostalgia’s sake, I wanted to see if it was possible to install Halo 2 PC (or Halo 2 for Windows Vista) on Windows 11. All it took was a little time, a fair amount of trial and error, and some troubleshooting when downloading Games for Windows Live in 2022. If you’re looking for some help doing the same for whatever reason (just remember that multiplayer achievements are no longer obtainable), follow this guide.


  • A copy of Halo 2 PC/Vista with a key. Each key is valid up to five times.
  • A method to install the game. This can be done by using a DVD drive (USB DVD drives work too) or an ISO image of your copy of Halo 2 PC/Vista.
    • If you don’t have a DVD drive on the target machine, you may be able to rip the DVD image to an ISO and mount it natively in Windows 10/11.
    • If you aren’t able to do this, you may find an ISO somewhere online, though I would not recommend this unless you can find a reputable source. You’ll still need a key found in the DVD case.


  • Install the game using the method of your choice, whether it’s over a DVD drive or mounted ISO.
    • You may need to go to the root of the drive and open autostart.exe to get things started.
    • I’d recommend fully installing the game. If you do this, and after activation and following the rest of the guide, you won’t need to insert the DVD to play the game again.
  • After the installation process completes, try to open the game. One of several things will happen.
    • If you haven’t been prompted yet, it will ask you to activate the game with the key in the DVD case.
    • It may try to update the game a few times. It likely won’t get to this part unless you already have parts of Games for Windows Live installed.
    • Once the intermediary splash screen appears, it will try to download Games for Windows Live and related programs. This is the part that will always fail.
  • You will need to manually download a few files.
  • Once you have installed the packages above, try to re-launch Halo 2 PC/Vista. You’ll have several updates to install, but once they’re done, you should be ready for action.

Enjoy! Hopefully this will help someone else in the same boat.


  • The reason the Games for Windows Live installer fails can be found in the logs. The original link for the file download has been removed, but the link above remains as of early 2022. I’ve saved a copy of these files in the event these links ever go down.
  • If you have graphical issues after installing the game, switching the game to Windowed Mode in Settings > Video should help a little.
  • Several of the older elements within the Games for Windows interface will crash the game. Avoid using the guide whenever possible.

Michael Stenberg