These games are very fussy with other processes running in memory. For myself, I have to close MSN Messenger to play RA or it freezes, and for C&C I have to force end every process but ~10 critical system processes and my sound card drivers. Your best solution is to close a process at a time and hope the one you close is the one that is causing the freezing. Also, I find that running in windows 98 compatability mode, instead of 95, is more stable. Also, playing with music enabled in particular can cause it to freeze due to conflicts; although it's not the same without music, it will most likely be playable.
Thx for the help, I had msn running while playing, as soon as i turned it off there were no problems. I feel stupid for not trying/noticing this before