Changing Server Core's Look and Feel, Part 4

Reading Time: 4 minutes

After three rather serious posts on changing Server Core I feel it's time to change some settings that are just fun to change. Let's look at the splash screen at boot time and the picture on the logon screen. I'll conclude with a grand tip to show off your Server Core geekness.


Changing the splash screen

Windows Vista offers a nice trick when you're bored with the normal splash screen. You can change it so it doesn't show the simple green progress bar. Instead it will show an image in the liking of the Windows Vista under water scene or an image of a blueish aurora (SP1). Long Zehn has pictures to show what I'm on about. In Windows Server 2008 you can change the splash screen as well and it looks like this:

You can download EasyBCD from Neosmart if you'd want to do this in a graphical tool. Of course Server Core admins are real men and we don't need a graphical tool for this… especially since Windows already has a command line tool to do this, called the Boot Configuration Database Editor (or bcdedit for short)

To change the progress bar with the picture, type:


bcdedit.exe /set quietboot on

To change it back, type:

bcdedit.exe /set quietboot off


If you're still not satisfied with your splash screen you can actually change it. Rick van Dijck (who is also from the Netherlands)  is the webmaster for MyVistaBoot. His website shows you how to replace your winload.exe.mui with one from his website. (Since you already changed the No GUI option with the command above you can skip that step)


Changing the picture on the Logon screen

Another neat thing to do in Windows Server 2008 Server Core is to change the picture for your user account, when you're operating it in a workgroup setting. (in an Active Directory environment you can specify User Account Pictures through the Active Directory) By default user accounts don't have a picture, because the Windows Server team decided to leave out all the user account pictures. I guess they anticipated we didn't want our administrator accounts to be associated with flowers…

Instead we want our accounts to be associated with something cool like our corporate logo:

If you want a picture associated with your account on the logon screen you need to do the following:


  • Make a square picture, 128 pixels by 128 pixels in size. Store it as user.bmp
  • Make a new folder underneath the %systemdrive%\ProgramData\Microsoft folder, named User Account Pictures, using the following commands:
    • cd C:\ProgramData\Microsoft
    • md "User Account Pictures"
  • Get your user.bmp file in the newly created folder.
  • Log off by typing
    • Logoff


Tweaking the "DOS BOX"

Full Screen mode

In one of my presentations I refer to Server Core as "Windows without Windows". This is wrong of course since we're using graphical tools throughout this series. There is a way however to change the look and feel of the command line window to make Server Core look like "Windows without Windows". It's actually one of my favorite tricks.

All you need to do is change the properties of the Command Line window. There are two ways to accomplish it, where only one allows you to easily reverse it again: (so I'll just show you that one) Press ALT and ENTER at the same time while the focus is on the command line window. If you want to go back just press it again.

Changing colors

When you're using the DOS box in full screen mode you might actually make your fellow admins turn pale by changing the colors of your DOS box to match the colors of a stop error. It's not as effective as installing the Blue Screen Screensaver but is does the trick.

You can change the colors of your DOS box by right clicking on the title bar of your command line window. Then select "Properties" and hit the "Colors" tab. When your done press the "OK" button.



This post showed two tricks to change the look and feel of Windows Server 2008 Server Core before you get to work on it. Changing the splash screen and user account picture isn't hard, but you just need to find where to change it.

I wonder how much longer the Windows team allows us to have User Account Pictures in Server Core. We're supposed to be command line-addicted men, right? That's why I prefer to run my command box full screen. Geek on!

This is the final part in this series.

Further reading

Dinosaur Sightings: Windows splash screens from 1.01 to Vista
Vista SP1 brings small UI tweaks
EasyBCD – A GUI for BCDedit
BCDEdit Command-Line Options
MyVistaBoot – Boot Windows Vista your way!
Customize Your Welcome Picture Choices in Windows Vista
BlueScreen Screen Saver v3.2
Top 15 DOS commands
Adding fonts to cmd.exe

Disclaimer Beta Software

The information on this webpage applies to software from Microsoft that was in testing phase but utilizable by experienced users by the time the webpage was written. This software has not been released for sale, distribution or usage for the general public. The information on this webpage and the beta software are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.

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