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How-to (mostly) remove Win7 branding from a PC

hloberg

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I posted a video a few weeks back of an old HP laptop I converted into a MESS TI Geneve laptop. My idea was to 1.) have the laptop boot in less than 30 seconds and 2.) to remove all HP and Windows branding from the startup and shutdown as well as 3.) anything else that broke the illusion of this being a Geneve laptop.

For those who don’t know what a Geneve 9640 is, here is it’s Wiki page.

This project actually took me several tries to get right. Lots of screwed up OS that had to be reloaded. But after much research here is what I came up with.

 

Tools: A Laptop or a desktop, a copy of Windows 7 and the supplied utilities I have included at the bottom of this post.

 

Note: This is not UEFI. I don’t think Win7 ever went there so it’s all standard BIOS stuff. So it won’t work on a newer computer that doesn’t disallow UEFI in some fashion. Also, a lot of computers have the manufacturer name displayed as the computer starts up. This may or may not be able to be disabled. I got lucky on my HP laptop as disabling UEFI disabled the logo. You may not be so lucky and may have to live with the HP or Dell or whatever that it starts up.

 

Another note: I am assuming you know something about Windows setups. Also, these little supplied utilities supplied can really screw up an OS to the point of re-load; use with caution and stick with the instructions.

 

 

The Steps to success:

1.) Load a clean Win7. Load it as lean as possible and be sure NOT to set a logon password.

 

After load,

2.) Use MSCONFIG to disable as many SERVICES and STARTUP programs as you can get away with. More you can disable the faster the boot. I disabled stuff like network drivers, spooler, update, remote access, themes, indexing and the like.

3.) Go to TASK SCHEDULER/MICROSOFT and disable as many task you can. There are a lot of stuff MS does on start up or on a schedule that could slow down boot time.

4.) Go to ADVANCE SYSTEM SETTING/PERFORMANCE/SETTINGS and set to BEST PERFOMANCE. This turns off all lot of unnecessary Aero stuff that will slow boot and run time.

5.) Remove all unneeded programs and/or features in PROGRAMS AND FEATURES.

6.) Back to MSCONFIG. Set BOOT to NO GUI BOOT. This removes the Win7 startup graphics and replaces it with a black screen. Gains a few seconds too. Also on this screen set TIMEOUT to 0.

 

Now to clean up the desktop and give it that wonderful non-existence look.

7.) Change the THEME to HIGH CONTRAST BLACK. This blacks out the screen.

8.) Set TASKBAR to AUTO HIDE, to move it off the screen.

9.) Hide all notification area icons.

10.) Turn off all system icons such as clock, volume, network etc.. these will sometime cause the taskbar to pop-up or slow the hide.

11.) Remove all the desktop icons such as the recycle bin. You can make a short cut to the recycle bin and attach in the start menu.

12.) Unpin all on taskbar. They can, again, cause the hidden dock to not close fast enough or pop up.

Note: if you want to shutdown your program and PC with the off button be sure to set the POWER OPTIONS with the power button to do a Power Down. This will do a logical power down of the program and the PC. A lot of the time this is set to sleep.

 

Now is the time to use some of those little utilities I supplied with this post.

 

13.) Install the ULTIMATE WINDOWS TWEAKER. You can disable even more stuff with this program. What we want to use it for is to get rid of that pesky blue/green leafy background behind the Welcome screen. In the UAL tab set CUSTOM BACKGROUND to whatever picture you want on startup. You could just create a black.jpg so it’s still black or, in my case, I used the old Geneve logo. This also sets the Logout/ Shutdown screen to the same picture.

14.) Install HIDE MOUSE & it’s .ini file and have it start on Windows startup. This little program shuts off the mouse pointer after so many seconds. I set it to the minimum 2 seconds. You might have to play around with this program as it can be a little contrary to work right.

15.) Put the CROSS HAIR CURSOR directory on the PC. Go into MOUSE/POINTERS and click BROWSE and pull up the correct cross hair pointer from it’s directory for each type of pointer. This will take a while. This makes what little pointer is seen be just a tiny cross hair point which is easier to hide.

16.) Install the TAKE OWNERSHIP registry patch to enable ‘Take Ownership’ of files. You will need that in the next steps.

17.) Go to the WINDOWS/CURSORS directory and take a look at the Aero cursors. These are the default cursors. When Windows gets to the Start Screen a series of these Aero pointers pops up temporally before your chosen cursor is invoked. If you replace some of the default Aero pointers with the Cross Hair Pointers then those pointers are greatly reduced in size.

So,

a.) Make a copy of the original Aero .cur files, in the WINDOWS directory in case you make a mistake.

b.) Now, in the WINDOWS/CURSOR directory TAKE OWNERSHIP of the file you want to change from the annoying Aero pointer to the tiny Cross Hair pointers. Do this by right-clicking on the file then choose Take Ownership.

c.) Now replace that file with the Cross Hair file but use the original Aero name of the file. If you don’t use the original name there could be problems on start up.

18.) OK, the final thing we want to get rid of the WINDOWS 7 branding which is at the bottom of the Startup Screen. This uses a program called RESOURCE HACKER. Be very, very, very, very careful with this program. It can brick an OS in a New York second if used wrong. So follow the instructions carefully.

a.) In the directory WINDOWS\BRANDING\BASEBRD take ownership of BASEBRD.DLL. Make a copy of that file too.

b.) Start RESOURCE HACKER as ADMINISTRATOR. Open the BASEBRD.DLL file in RESOURCE HACKER. There now is a sub-directory called BITMAP in RH. Click on the numbered files under BITMAP and it should show you the bitmap for the Windows 7 branding. Delete each of these files under the BITMAP. Now close and save the file.

 

Reboot your PC and you should now have a brandless PC ready for whatever you want. I kick off MESS Geneve but you could start up any program. A lot of people have used this on their Arcade machines when they use MAME.

 

Again, play with this. Your PC might be a little different. Also, you can use some of this on Win10 except RESOURCE HACKER or ULITIMATE WINDOWS TWEAKER. I don’t know what effect those programs would have on Win10.

 

And there it is. Have fun.

HLO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little-utils.zip

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I have a video of the Win7 Geneve laptop starting up in the 1st sentence above. Or do you mean a video of the steps?

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