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Purpose of this writeup

This writeup explains how to replace three of the ugly Windows screens with screens of your own design. These three screens are:

  • The start-up screen which features the 'flying Windows' logo and clouds
  • The 'Please wait while Windows shuts down' screen, which as far as I recall is very similar to the screen described above
  • The 'It is now safe to turn off your computer' screen which appears when the shut-down routine is finished.

The WHAT screen?

I am aware that the two shut-down screens described above are not visible on all Windows systems. Most newer systems, if properly optimized, will shut down too quickly for the 'Please wait' screen to become visible, and the 'safe to turn off' screen will not appear at all if 'Quick Shutdown' is enabled, since the system will turn itself off.

Why bother?

I am also aware that this is an entirely cosmetic change that will almost certainly not enhance system performance. Having said that, it is nevertheless very satisfying to change even such a petty aspect of a system which, let's face it, is specifically designed to dissuade users from tinkering with it. We Windows users must find comfort where we can.

What systems will it work on?

It should definitely work on Windows 95 and Windows 98, any editions. I have not tested it on Windows ME, Windows NT, or Windows 2000 systems, but my guess (and it's only a guess) is that if the files that I am about to describe do exist on those systems, then the rest of the instructions ought to work just fine.

Ok, so how is it done?

Very simply, the aim is to replace three specific Windows bitmap files with bitmaps of your own design. However, there are a few little quirks to be aware of which I'm going to guide you through now.

As well as the following instructions, you'll also need a decent graphics application (PaintShop Pro is good enough, although I'll be obliquely referring to Photoshop here) and a basic understanding of graphics file formats.

To change the start-up screen:

Look in the root directory of the drive on which Windows is installed. You are looking for a file named Logo.sys. If you find it, rename it to WAS_Logo.sys, or Logo.old, or something like that: the idea here is to give yourself a backup in case you run into problems. If you don't find Logo.sys, that's not a problem. It isn't always present, but as soon as it's created, Windows will automatically begin using it.

So let's create! Fire up your graphics application, and open or create the masterpiece that is to be your new start-up screen. The proportions of the finished image need to be the standard 4:3 ratio, and for reasons which will soon become apparent, the best size to work with is 534x400 pixels. Bear in mind when creating your graphic that the start-up screen will only display 256 colors, so graphics such as extremely colorful photographs may not turn out as well as you would hope.

When you're happy with your work, save it as a Windows bitmap (.bmp). Now reopen the file, convert it to indexed format (256-color) with a local (selective) palette and no dither, and resize it to 320x400 pixels (you'll need to have 'constrain proportions' disabled, obviously). Now save it as Logo.sys

mofaha, you idiot! My wonderful image is all squashed up!

Yes, odd, isn't it. But that's the way it needs to be. Don't worry: just move your new Logo.sys file to the root directory of the drive on which Windows is installed. Then restart your computer, and admire your work!

And that's all there is to it. You follow exactly the same steps to replace the other two screens, with the following minor differences:

The other two bitmaps that you may want to replace are situated in the \Windows folder, not the root, and obviously the filenames are different; the 'Please wait' bitmap is called Logow.sys, and the 'safe to turn off' bitmap is called Logos.sys

Remember to back up all the files that you replace, just to be on the safe side.

Oh, and if your start-up bitmap happens to flash and change color rapidly as Windows loads, you need to resave the file with dither set to none. I discovered this effect by accident whilst experimenting, and thought of including it here as a handy hint; something along the lines of 'how to make a psychedelic start-up screen', but it has since occurred to me that it is probably better not to mess with the standard specification, since if the initial bitmap refuses to load, the system may hang completely, which is a fairly high price to pay for a cosmetic tweak. It's your call, though. If you know better than me and you're sure it won't be a problem, then it's worth checking out the 'psycho start-up' screen purely for its novelty value. Just set a high value for dither; that seemed to do it on at least one of the systems here.

Enjoy!

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