Cgameprogrammer posted a good article explaining widescreen gaming and what not.
Basically here are the requirements for running a game in widescreen (8:5, or 16:10 ratio)
1, must be able to manually, enter resoultion. Or Game should have support for the 1440x900 resolution.
2, the aspect is not hard codded and is determined by the width and hieght of the screen.
If both 1 and 2 are met your game will run perfect in widescreen. If only 1 is met your game will appear squashed. if neither 1 or 2 are met you will have to run at a 4:3 aspect resolution on your 8:5 laptop, and yes it will appear squashed.
I would say out of all the 3d games made from 1997 upward, aproximatley 65% can run with correct aspect ratio in widescreen. The remainin 35% will probably have a messed up aspect.