Customizing Windows 2000 Server

 16 / January / 2006 by Riley

Windows 2000 server doesn’t look very pretty, but it is very stable and fast. With a little work though you can tweak the interface to look however you want. Here’s some of the tools and methods I’ve come across to make this OS look better.

Resource Hacker

Resource Hacker lets you customize almost every aspect of the Windows OS interface from all the boot screens, dialog boxes, start menu, and system icons. It’s a freeware program and you can download it here:

To customize Windows 2000 you first need to find the correct system files to edit. The most important ones are these:

Found in c:\WINNT\


Found in c:\WINNT\system32\





Resource Hacker takes a little getting used to, but it’s basically straight forward. Just make sure you backup all of these files before messing with them. Also, once you edit any of these files Windows won’t let you save them in the original file folder while it’s up and running. There’s a few ways around this, but the simplest is just to boot up into DOS (or a program like ERD Commander) and copy the files over there. Here is some of the interfaces that are contained in each file:

– explorer.exe contains the string variable for the text on the start button.

– USER32.dll contains the icon for the start button.

– ntoskrnl.exe contains the Windows 2000 boot logo image in the bitmap section.

– MSGINA.dll contains a lot of the dialog boxes interfaces like login and shut down as well as the text strings that are used in them.

– shell32.dll contains all the system icons including the ones used in the start menu.


I had some problems trying to replace the icons in shell32.dll in Resource Hacker. I recommend just opening shell32.dll in an icon editor like Microangelo and doing it directly there.

You can get Microangelo here:

Changing the Logon Background Color

A. Start Regedit B. Go to HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Colors\Background C. Change the three numbers from the default of 58 110 165 to the RGB values you want D. For example 110 110 255 is a fairly light blue, 0 0 0 would be black E. Log off and log back on again to see the change.

There are also several other variables in this folder that you can play with the RGB values of to change different aspects of the bootup and shutdown screens.

Customize Internet Explorer

And if you’re tired of seeing “- Microsoft Internet Explorer” after the title of every web page then here’s how to change it to something else:

Find the following key in the registry:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main]

Then find the entry “Window Title” (if it is not there, then create it) and change the text to whatever you like.

Group Policy Editor

The Windows Group Policy Editor enables you to change a wide variety of settings under the hood of Windows.

Here’s how you can use it to make some changes to Internet Explorer: To begin, you’ll launch the Group Policy Editor by accessing the Run dialog box and typing Gpedit.msc in the Open text box and clicking OK.

Once the Group Policy Editor appears, you’ll open the User Configuration branch and drill down to

Windows Settings->Internet Explorer Maintenance->Browser User Interface.

When you access the Browser User Interface folder, you’ll see three settings titled Browser Title, Custom Logo, and Browser Toolbar Customizations.

The Browser Title setting simply adds the words provided by and then the company name to the existing Microsoft Internet Explorer title. Additional symbols help draw attention to your company name in the new title bar.

To customize Internet Explorer’s logo, just click on the Custom Logo setting in the Browser User Interface folder. When you see the Custom Logo dialog box, as shown in Figure D, you’ll discover that there are actually two settings for the Internet Explorer logo—static and animated. As you can guess, the static logo will appear when no action is taking place and the animated logo will appear when the browser is in use.

You’ll also notice that there are two sizes—22 x 22 and 38 x 38. The reason that Internet Explorer requires two different sized logos is that the size of the logo changes depending on whether you’re using text labels on your Internet Explorer toolbar. If you’re using the text labels, Internet Explorer uses the larger logo. If you aren’t, Internet Explorer uses the small logo.

Now, keep in mind that if you specify a custom static logo and not a custom animated logo, Internet Explorer will still use the default animated logo. However, if you specify a custom animated logo and not a custom static logo, Internet Explorer will use the first image in the animated logo for the static state.

To enable your custom logos, simply select the check box and then use the Browse button to locate your image file. Then click OK.

To create a custom logo, you’ll use Paint and save the file using either the 16-color bitmap or 256-color bitmap file type. If you’re using a static logo, you’ll create two images—one at 22 x 22 pixels and one at 38 x 38 pixels.

However, if you’re creating an animated logo, you’ll need to create a series of images in each size where each image differs slightly from the previous one. You’ll then combine the images together so they look like a film strip, and together they show the progression of the animation

For example, to create my animated logo, I created 12 images and placed them together in one file stacked one on top of each other (the 22×22 animated logo would then be a bmp image with the width=22 and the height=264).

You can also add your own custom buttons using the “Browser Toolbar Customizations” section.


If you like hackng things to your liking then these methods of customization will make using Windows 2000 a much more pleasurable experience. There is a multitude of other customizations you can do using these tools. Feel free to share any of yours in the comments section.

         filed under: windows