Guide: How I altered Windows to look and feel like an XBMC HTPC appliance

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twinflower Offline
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Post: #1
This thread will deal with branding of Windows computers to look like an appliance.


Yesterday I started searching the forums and Google to find out how I can make Windows invisble while booting and using XBMC.

This video shows my first result: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfdXemzxw30

What I have done is the following:
  • Altered the Windows boot screen to display XBMC loading instead of Windows loading. I also made a new animation
  • Tweaked the login screen to be as non-windows as possible (removing all icons and branding, new wallpaper and automatic login)
  • Disabled the explorer.exe and instead used Eventghost as shell to launch XBMC directly after login (using this guide: http://wiki.xbmc.org/?title=HOW-TO_make_..._Werner.29)
  • Disabled some of the auto-startup services (in msconfig and services.msc)
  • Edited the current Windows theme to black and disabled all fancy GUI stuff like the aero theme and such

My specs are as follows:
  • HTPC: Shuttle XS35 GT (noisy as a calculator <3)
  • 2GB ram (OCZ or Kingston or something)
  • Intel X25 40GB SSD harddive
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Logitech Z-5500
  • Logitech diNovo Edge wireless keyboard
Current boot time from pressing the power button to XBMC is ready: 39 seconds approx.

Software I've used
  • Eventghost (shell replacement)
  • Win7BootUpdater (boot screen altering)
  • Win7LogonBackgroundChanger (welcome screen wallpaper change)
  • LogonScreenTweaker (removing buttons and branding etc from welcome screen)

Here are some images of the process:
[Image: animation%20creation.jpg]
I used Photoshop to create the animation and saved it as 105 BMP files

[Image: animation%20files.jpg]
These are the 105 animation files needed for the boot screen

[Image: change%20boot%20screen.jpg]
This program altered the windows config files for the boot screen

[Image: logon%20screen%20tweaker.jpg]
I used this program to edit the windows welcome screen

[Image: wallpaper%20change.jpg]
This program replaced the wallpaper at the welcome screen

All the program files and animation files will be available at my dropbox as soon as the upload is finished.

I hope that other forum member which are interested in such branding etc will contribute to this thread by adding more tips and tweaks and to further enhance the appliance feel.

edit: link to rar-file containing the software and animation bmps ---> http://dl.dropbox.com/u/7897818/XBMC/XBM...anding.rar
(This post was last modified: 2011-02-10 00:45 by twinflower.)
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Christer K Offline
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Post: #2
Sweet!!

How do you start explorer.exe if you need to?
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twinflower Offline
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Post: #3
Hi

To start the task manager I press ctrl-shift-esc, and I then start any programs I need to from the "file -> run" menu.
(typically explorer, control panel and such)
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liquidskin76 Offline
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Post: #4
Excellent work twinflower. I'll try this out later.

Cheers

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SpectreX Offline
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Post: #5
Why bother going through all this hassle when you can use sleep mode and never see a bootscreen in the first place, no matter what OS you are running (Windows/Linux(&Live)/OS X) ?
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liquidskin76 Offline
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Post: #6
Because some people would rather completely power off their av equipment at the wall. If you don't happen to use your htpc everynight, why have it on sleep for days. Also, when you have little fingers nearby (kids), it can be a nightmare.

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bramblepants Offline
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Post: #7
Looks great to me!

Out of interest, do you run another other processes in the background, like SABnzbd+, SickBeard, CouchPotato? Are they affected at all by not having explorer running?

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twinflower Offline
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Post: #8
SpectreX Wrote:Why bother going through all this hassle when you can use sleep mode and never see a bootscreen in the first place, no matter what OS you are running (Windows/Linux(&Live)/OS X) ?
Because when I am away at work (for four weeks at a time), my girlfriend is using the mediacenter by herself and she's not all that into this.
Besides, I like to learn new stuff and try to accomplish small things just for the fun of it.
The simplest solution of all would just be to put xbmc.lnk in the windows startup folder, but that's too easy
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twinflower Offline
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Post: #9
bramblepants Wrote:Looks great to me!

Out of interest, do you run another other processes in the background, like SABnzbd+, SickBeard, CouchPotato? Are they affected at all by not having explorer running?
Hi, and thanks Smile

I am not running any other processes in the background except a few drivers and network related services. When I'm getting an MCE remote I would maybe have to add some kind of loader or driver to the startup, but that seemed to be pretty well implemented in Eventghost, at least according to the wiki-link i posted.

The programs you mentioned I have never even heard about ^^
It doesnt seem like Windows care about not having explorer running. It frees up a bit om memory as well.
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a11599 Offline
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Post: #10
Well done! Nod
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twinflower Offline
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Post: #11
a11599 Wrote:Well done! Nod
Thanks, but credit are due to those who made the programs I've used.
I'm merely a script kiddie in this respect Smile

Although, I hope someone want to make a cooler boot screen animation. Mine is somewhat boring.
And maybe someone has a few tips to shorten the boot time as well
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RubenV Offline
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Post: #12
nice, will keep following this :-)
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patm95 Offline
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Post: #13
That looks great. I have been thinking about doing something like this, but wasn't sure exactly how to go about doing it!
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scottc Offline
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Post: #14
I like this a lot.

Have just downloaded.
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thica Offline
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Post: #15
Hello,

just downloaded the package, but I can find the windows boot animation file. Are they not included?

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