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:
- How to Apply and Safely Use Custom User Interface (Shell or Explorer) in Windows?
- How to Install and Apply Custom 3rd Party Login Screens in Windows?
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:
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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