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How to make MA autobooting in Windows XP


Originally posted by Cog on the Maximus Arcade forums:  (and revived here)

Note:  Since this was originally posted, there is a utility called "Instant Sheller" which makes it a lot easier to hide windows.

Here's the easy but not completely-and-totally-awesome way of doing it:

* Put a shortcut to the Maximus Arcade executable in the "Startup" folder of your 'start' menu.

The downside is that you'll see windows loading, flashing up for a few seconds before MA loads, showing your desktop/icons/taskbar, and doing all the window-y things it does.

Here is the rad way to do it. It's much easier than it sounds, and it completely and totally hides Windows! I've really explained it to death, but it simply comes down to changing two registry values.

First off, it's best to get MA set up the way you need, though not completely necessary.

Second, I'd recommend using the new beta of Maximus Arcade since it lets you run a program on exit.

What you're doing in this method is replacing the Windows shell with Maximus Arcade. This means that instead of Explorer being the interface (along with taskbars/icons/desktops... essentially Windows itself), Maximus Arcade is the operating system interface, so that's all you see.

Here begins the info:

PART 1: Prep Work

Maximus Arcade doesn't need to be configured completely at this point, but you might as well get everything the way it should be. The following is the VERY IMPORTANT thing to configure since it lets you exit out to Windows even after you completely hide it if you choose to do so:
*In MA's config screen, go to the "Options" tab, then to the "Exit" tab. Check the "Run Application on Exit" box, and enter c:\windows\explorer.exe

Best thing you can do, for ease of use after hiding Windows, is to set up a second WinXP 'admin' user. Make sure both users have full administration priviledges. The need for the second account will become obvious as you read on.

While logged in as the user that will be your Maximus Arcade-launching account, we're going to simplify and automate the login process:

Click "Start", select 'Run', and type the following:

control userpasswords2

Uncheck "Users must enter a username and password" and click "Apply"

It'll ask for the username and password for the autologin account. Enter the info for the Maximus Arcade account here. Click "OK" as many times as it likes.

PART 2: Replacing the shell with MA

Click Start, select run, run regedit and browse to the following:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\IniFileMapping\system.ini\boot

There will be a string named "Shell". Edit the beginning of this string, changing SYS: to USR: For example, my Shell value was:
SYS:Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon
and now reads:
USR:Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

Even if you go back to the way things were at some point, you do not need to change this option back.

Now browse to the following in regedit:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

If there's no string named "Shell" here, add one. Edit the string and make it reflect the path to Maximus Arcade. Spaces are okay, and quotes are not necessary. Example:

c:\games\ma204b1\maximus arcade\maximus arcade.exe

DONE! Easy? Yes. Shell is replaced as of now. If you set Maximus Arcade to run explorer.exe on its exit, it will run a regular windows interface upon quitting MA. Additionally (an "even better" option) is to configure a button in MA for "Power Down Computer". This way once you boot directly into MA while completely hiding windows, you have the choice of either shutting down the pc, or popping out into windows to do config or other things like switching to your second admin user (second user becomes necessary if you do the optional things below)

PART 3: Things you might as well do if you made it this far (all optional, but cool)

a) Hide the "Loading Settings" popup
-run regedit and go to:

-Create a DWORD value called "DisableStatusMessages", and edit its value to the number 1
(or edit this dword if it already exists, which it likely doesn't)

b) Kill the Welcome and Startup/Shutdown screens
-in regedit go to:
HKEY_USERS\DEFAULT\Control Panel\Colors\Background

-change the value to: 0 0 0 (those are zeros, and the spaces ARE necessary)

-now, go to the Control Panel -> User Accounts and select "Change the way users log on or off". Uncheck "Use Welcome Screen"

c) Kill the pop-up bubbles like "USB device connected" "Not all Star Menu Objects can be shown", etc
-run regedit yet again and go to:

-Create a DWORD named "EnableBalloonTips", and give it a hex value of "0" (zero)

d) Get rid of the WinXP bootscreen
-This is how i did it. There are programs that can give you the full featured ones with progress bars, etc, but my new bootscreen is the "Winners don't use drugs" screen from old arcade games, so it's a static image. It's perfect. :) Plus it's the easiest/least accident prone method of changing it.

-Make a 640x480 16-COLOR bitmap. It MUST be saved or converted to a 16-color bitmap. Or ask me for mine. Name it "boot.bmp" and keep it in your c:\windows directory

-Go to My Computer -> Properties -> Advance -> Startup and Recovery -> Settings

-Click "Edit Startup Options" and add the following to the end of what's there:
/bootlogo /noguiboot
(make sure you leave a space between the existing options and the ones you added above, and keep a space between the two new options while you're at it)

Note:  Ah, one thing I should mention -- even though I accidentally listed removing the "Welcome" screen under the 'optional' stuff, it's actually very necessary. If it's not removed, you stay at the welcome screen for a while, you hear an error ding, then eventually the welcome screen disappears but you see a box letting you know that MA can't display at the right resolution. This is due to the 'welcome screen' having a non-useful resolution and color depth, and without it disabled, MA's loading underneath it and trying to use that resolution. :)

Also, to revert to not having MA as shell, you only need to go here in regedit:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

...and delete this one single key:


which should have a value like "c:\games\ma204b1\maximus arcade\maximus arcade.exe " or whatever your personal path to the executable is.
It's absolutely great setting it up this way; all you see/hear when booting is ...

-bios message or custom bios screen if you're able to change it
-black screen
-your custom boot screen
-black screen with start-up sound
-maximus arcade

slick. No loading windows screen, no login or wlecome screen, no flash of the start-bar/destop/icons, etc. Excellent.
I've just been made aware that I forgot one step, here..

You have to disable the "Welcome" screen completely or else you get a warning that MA can't use 32-bit (or any other resolution). Reason is, it tries loading underneath the welcome screen which is using some weird resolution. Do this:

Start -> Control Panel -> User Accounts -> Change the Way Users Log on or off

Then uncheck "Use Welcome Screen"

That should fix it. The other "disable welcome screen, etc" thing up there turns the screen black underneath, so it should still be used. I just forgot the second half of the instructions up there, which is what I just typed. :)
Here's (FINALLY) how to hide the mouse pointer once all this other stuff is done:

-start up into windows on your maximus-arcade winxp user account (i.e., exit MA to explorer or whatever to get to windows on that account)

-not sure if I mentioned in the earlier steps, but if you haven't already, make sure your MA user has a totally black desktop background. Set 'wallpaper' to none and desktop color to black

-Grab MameWAH (it has an invisible mouse cursor included in the archive)

-Pull out that cursor from the archive and put it in, say, Windows directory or your mouse cursors directory. Delete MameWAH since it's not good for anything else now. :)

-Grab TweakUI XP: This version has a setting we need, and some other versions of TweakUI omit this setting, so grab this even if you already have TweakUI installed just in case.

-install TweakUI (if it doesn't work, you need to upgrade XP to servicepack 1 ..or 2 ...don't remember which it required since I originally did this on a fresh-install and didn't have either. :)

(next is one optional but recommended option, since it'll be tough to get around windows after the next couple steps with an invisible cursor)
--Go to 'control panel -> mouse', and select the 'pointer options' tab. Check 'show location of pointer when I press CTRL key'. Now when the pointer's invisible, you can tap CTRL to have a circle pop up on-screen to show where it is. Might even want to just load TweakUI up for the later steps just so you don't have to hunt around the start menu with no mouse pointer to find it.

Now, back to it.. here's where your cursor goes away:
-Go to 'control panel -> mouse' and select the 'pointers' tab. For EVERY pointer listed, browse to that invisible cursor you got from MameWAH. Un-check 'show pointer shadow', and do a 'save as' on this mouse pointer sceme... save the scheme as something like 'hidden cursor'... it's your choice. :) Click 'apply' and 'ok'. Your cursor is now invisible! Remember to tap CTRL if you need to find the pointer..! After a few taps, windows stops showing you the cursor... simply use your other CTRL instead if that happens.

-blindly and with no cursor, make your way over to TweakUI.. Under "logon -> settings", you see you can copy your mouse pointers etc to the logon screen. Click "mouse", click "copy now" and you're done.

THAT'S IT! IT'S DONE... So now, from startup (and after your pc's BIOS logo unless your bios's logo is able to be replaced or disabled), you should only see a black screen, then your custom boot logo, then black.. a very very quick flash of the original mouse pointer, more black, then MA loads. You never see a windows screen or any dialog boxes! You never see the pointer or hourglass when you load an emu or anything! It's perfectly seamless now. :)

*If you want to switch users, quit into windows from MA and type [windows-key]+L ... it'll let you enter your second winxp account (which is why i got you to make two accounts.) Your other user will still have a mouse pointer and all settings intact... this is now the account where you can do all the config with emulators etc, from now on. If you ever need to do config from your maximus arcade account, you can change to the default windows mouse cursor scheme temporarily if you can navigate to it. :) It won't change anything permanently if you need to switch to a visible cursor now and then; just don't forget to switch back to your invisible cursor scheme afterwards.

I did a video a few months back on how to  set it up. Hope this helps.

Edited by forum moderator DeLuSioNaL29:  Great vid Spacegoogie!  I wanted to add the following to make it even easier.

1)  With Maximus running, hit CTRL-P to enter the preferences.  Click on the Options tab, then the Exit tab.
Check the box that says "Run Application On Exit" and click on Browse.  Navigate to C:\windows\explorer.exe and double-click it.  You should now have C:\windows\explorer.exe in the dialog box.  Click Close to return to the front end.  Exit Maximus by hitting CTRL-Q.
2) You can download Instant Sheller here:  Install Sheller
3)  Download and unzip the file attached to this post and place it in the Instant Sheller directory (overwrite the black.bmp file.  The version that is supplied with Instant Sheller is not 640 x 480 & 16 colors so it won't work.  The attached black one will).
3)  Make sure you click the autologin option so that it will not prompt you when logging in.  Then apply the changes noted in the video (point the shell to maximus.exe)
That's it!  Reboot and if you need to exit to windows to make any changes, just hit CTRL-Q and explorer will automatically run!  Also, if you have your arcade set up like I do where you press the power button to shut down (mine is wired to the PC button contacts on the Motherboard), this method (with explorer.exe in Maximus) will not affect the shutting down of windows in any way.  You will not see any additional windows pop up when shutting down.  Enjoy!  ~ D

this portion of the step right before step #2 doesn't make any sense...  :banghead:

Enter the info for the Maximus Arcade account here. Click "OK" as many times as it likes."

What info??!?!?!  There's no mention of this anywhere else and if it asks for a login/pass what does this have to do with MA?

BTW...i tried this on XP64 and it worked. Just want someone to clarify this for me so I know I did everything right. Thnx!

I updated Spacegoogie's post with some additional instructions.  Also added black.bmp file to it, for those that want to COMPLETELY hide windows, including the bootscreen.


Other than the fact that instant sheller is easier to set up, is there any real advantage over shelling MA by using the original (on the top of this thread) method?

Also, even if you completely hide the mouse with instant sheller (using the single pixel), will a quick flash of the mouse/hourglass still be visible at startup?


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