Recently I started replaying the Need for Speed parts from the Underground era, which by my definition is anything from the first Underground till Carbon. Despite having some drawbacks (sometimes too much traffic, ridiculous physics, extreme rubber band effect which doesn't add to challenge but lots of frustration and merely shows the incompetence of the AI programmers) these games are those that I replay most often.
Now was the first time I played them on Windows 7 64bit. Underground worked fine but Underground 2 and Most Wanted (Carbon not tested yet) experienced random crashes. Googling didn't yield much information except that the games are not Windows 7 compatible. Of course I couldn't settle for that. One forum entry suggested to deactivate all cores except one for the game. In my desperation I tried that and low and behold this really works. Here is how you do that:
- start the game
- wait until you are in the main menu
- Alt-Tab back to the desktop
- open Task Manager
- look for speed.exe, right click and choose Set Affinity...
- disable all cores but one and click OK
- go back into the game
It should be needless to say that this only applies to multi core CPUs. I never experienced another random crash.
Update: Carbon worked out of the box for me.