How to Install and Apply Custom 3rd Party Boot Screens in Windows without Replacing Default NTOSkrnl.exe File?

Recently we posted 2 tutorials to customize Windows Shell (Explorer.exe) and login screen without replacing any system file or without using any 3rd party software:

Many AskVG readers requested to create a similar tutorial to apply boot screen in Windows XP, so today in this tutorial we are going to share an easy to use way to install and apply a custom 3rd party boot screen in Windows XP without any need of replacing system file or using software.

Windows XP boot screen resources are stored in NTOSkrnl.exe file present in Windows\System32 folder. So if you want to customize Windows XP boot screen, you'll need to modify this file in Resource Hacker and replace existing BITMAPs with your desired BMP files. Or you can also download some ready-made boot screens from Internet. We have also shared a few boot screens for Windows XP such as Windows 8 boot screen, Angry Birds boot screen and Windows 7 boot screen for XP.

When you want to apply a custom boot screen in Windows XP, you need to replace existing NTOSkrnl.exe file in your system with the new one. Or you need to use software such as TuneUp Utilities to apply it.

But using the method which we are going to share in this tutorial, you'll be able to apply your desired boot screen without replacing NTOSkrnl.exe file and without using any 3rd party software.

Also using this tutorial, you'll be able to use as many boot screens as you want in Windows XP.

So without wasting time lets start the tutorial:

STEP 1. To use this method, we'll need modify Windows XP boot loader. Actually we'll need to edit existing Windows XP boot entry or need to create a new entry for Windows XP in boot loader.

Windows XP boot loader entries are stored in boot.ini file which is stored in C:\ drive.

You can directly edit boot.ini file in Notepad but its a hidden system file. So first you'll need to enable "Show hidden files" option and disable "Hide protected operating system files" options in Folder Options and then you'll need to remove read-only attribute of the file using its Properties. Then you'll be able to edit the file.

Or you can use following simple method to edit this file:

Right-click on My Computer icon and select Properties. It'll open System Properties window. You can also directly open it by using sysdm.cpl command in RUN. Now go to "Advanced" tab and click on "Settings" button present in "Startup and Recovery" section. It'll open a new window. Now click on "Edit" button as shown in following screenshot:


It'll open "boot.ini" file in Notepad.

STEP 2. Once you open the boot.ini file in Notepad, you'll see similar content to following:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

Look at the last line. It contains the main entry of Windows XP which you see in the boot loader and which you select to boot into Windows XP.

STEP 3. We just need to add an extra parameter /kernel=boot_screen_file_name to the Windows XP entry in boot loader.

For example, if you saved the custom boot screen file with the name "Bootscreen.exe", you'll need to add /kernel=Bootscreen.exe parameter at the end of Windows XP boot entry line.

NOTE: Your custom boot screen file must be copied to Windows\System32 folder before restarting your computer otherwise you'll not be able to boot into Windows.

So once you copied Bootscreen.exe file to Windows\System32 folder, edit the Windows XP boot entry line in boot.ini file and add the extra parameter to the end of it. It should look like as following now:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect /kernel=Bootscreen.exe

STEP 4. That's it. Save the file and close it. Restart your system and now you should see your new boot screen instead of default Windows XP boot screen.

Its an absolutely safe method because you always have a backup of original Windows XP boot entry in boot loader. Also many times official Windows updates from Microsoft overwrite NTOSkrnl.exe file and you lose your customized boot screen but if you apply custom boot screen using this method, there will be no need to worry about Windows updates as you are not replacing any file.

Check out following video to see this method live in action:

BONUS TIP 1: You can first try to make a copy of Windows XP boot entry and add the extra parameter to this new copied entry. In this way, you'll see 2 entries of Windows XP in boot loader and you'll be able to check the new entry with new boot screen. If everything goes fine, you can remove old Windows XP boot entry from boot.ini file. Check out this tutorial which tells you how to create copies of boot entries in boot loader.

BONUS TIP 2: Using this method, you can make many copies of Windows XP boot entry in boot.ini file and can set different boot screen files for each entry using /kernel parameter. But keep in mind all boot screen files must be present in Windows\System32 folder.

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Posted in: Troubleshooting, Windows XP

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  • Best Bonus Tips VG !!

  • VG

    ^^ Thanks. ;)

  • How to solve error 324 on my chrome ? HELP

  • Wow, awesome! New logons, explorers, and bootscreens! No TuneUp needed (I was going to ask my dad to buy it!)

  • wat about Vista and 7? or do they use a completely different file?

  • VG

    ^^ Yes. They use different file so this method will not work in Vista and 7.

    Yep. ;)

    @Jyotishmoy hacker
    Please provide proper details.

  • @Jyotishmoy Hacker
    Quote from a thread at the forum thread:
    "It seems that error 324 happens for some who also run Internet Download Manager on their system. Here is the info I found:

    If you get "Unable to load the webpage because the server sent no data" - open IDM and go to menu bar Downloads > Options > General and uncheck the "use advanced browser integration" checkbox.

    Voila! Chrome works again. At least for me. No harm to try it and see if this solves your error 324 problem."
    This ought to help.

  • Thanks for your solid tips once again.... VG

  • Can you plz send me link of above video.

  • VG

    ^^ Here you go:

  • Thanks...

  • ....Thanks....

  • Must the bootscreen be an executable file or can it be a image file
    e.g must it be bootscreen.exe or can it be bootscreen.bmp or somthing else.

  • VG

    ^^ Yes. It must be a modified NTOSkrnl.exe file.

  • Thanks :-)

  • i followed your instruction. This is quite good. But what to do while i'm wanting to add that boot screen as "NTOSKRNL.EX_" by making from "makecab" basis? I mean, after replacing "NTOSKRNL.EX_" , it won't entitle me to install my xp setup on "virtual box" . It just freeze while it is processing "device installation"

    Now what to do? Eventually i'm aspiring to use that boot screen onto my "unattended win xp setup" .

  • VG

    ^^ Check following:

  • no VG, I've not asked that u replyed. I meant, windows xp setup is not entitling me to use cutom bootscreen on my unattended xp. It just freeze on "devices installation" process of windows xp installation.

  • VG

    ^^ Thats why I provided that link. Did you follow the proper method including ModifyPe command to include your custom boot screen in Windows setup?

  • of course i done, actually it is working while i'm replacing with system ntoskrnl.exe(which is created by "TuneUp Utilities" ) but it is not entitling me to use that custom bootsceen on my unattended xp., ( the problem creates after replacing custom boot screen)

  • VG

    ^^ It might be a file version mismatch. Since the unattended Windows setup doesn't contain latest updates, it might be possible that the NToskrnl.exe file present in your already installed Windows has higher version number compared to the NToskrnl.exe file present in setup ISO.

  • please, in the tutorial to change ntoskrnl.exe bootscreen, in the line that is added, you mention
    bootscreen.exe..this is a supposed name? as the bootscreens are win7.bootscreen...

    please, can you explain. best regards, very useful tips. v.l

  • sir, in the tutorial about changing ntoskrnl.exe bootscreen, you mention the modified file as bootscreen.exe
    the files for bootscreen are *.bootskin...please clarify, thanks for all the good tips, provided so far..vl.

  • VG

    ^^ I was talking about manually editing boot screen using Resource Hacker. The original boot screen in Windows is actually an EXE file.

  • I don't have .exe bootscreens. So can I use .tbs bootscreens instead of .exe bootscreens

  • hey while doing this i got a problem. my right click stops working on my win xp startup menu

  • the boot screens which i have downloaded from ur website is in (.tbs) extension but in this u have shown that bootscreen is in (.exe) extension. Does it matters while changing boot.ini file.

  • VG

    ^^ .tbs is a special file format which is created and used by TuneUp Utilities. You cant use it in the above mentioned method.

    But you can grab the EXE file from .tbs file. First apply the boot screen using TuneUp Utilities. It'll create a file "TUKernel.exe" in C:\WINDOWS\system32\ folder. You can copy it and then set it as boot screen suing above mentioned method.

  • i want to change boot screen in win7 home basic. In tuneup utilities, this option is not available. help me to use .tbs file without using tuneup.

  • hey mate.....tanx but iv got a question !
    how should we create a bootscreen file?

  • i mean it shouldn be just a simple epg file...right?

  • Wow, SevenVG Boot Screen looks awful :D
    Win8 RTM Boot Screen loading curl isn't turning...
    Only one usable is the puristic VstaVG Boot Screen :(

  • a program can't install its shows "Unpacking c\program files\nudi 4.0\uninstall.exe" so please help me sir

  • VG

    ^^ I already replied to your comment in following topic:

    Did you try Unlocker?

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