Old Explorer, New Windows

Discuss Windows 2000, NT, XP and Windows Server 2000, 2003, SBS 2003.
Pikavolt321
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:44 pm

Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Pikavolt321 »

I was a bit bored during the quarantine, so I decided to install old versions of Windows Explorer on more modern versions of Windows. My first attempt was the Windows NT Explorer, Version 4.0. I knew that shell32.dll from Windows 2000 was incompatible with the older Explorer, so I went into a hex editor and replaced all mentions to "shell32.dll" with "shull32.dll" and copied the NT shell32.dll into the 2000 system32 directory as "shull32.dll", and replaced the Win2k explorer with the WinNT Explorer, and then rebooted, to find the OS as I would expect it, with "Windows NT Server" (I was doing this on Windows 2000 Advanced Server) appearing in the start menu. The Explorer looked just like Windows 95/NT for file browsing, and could browse the Control Panel or filesystem. However, double clicking or pressing enter on an icon outside of the control panel brought up the search menu, so I had to right click and then click open. The about menu indicated the OS as Windows NT Version 5.0, as expected. Identical results to this were encountered on Windows XP Professional SP3. Changing to the Luna theme did not impact the usability of the program. The Windows logo on the start button did not appear on either release of Windows. I did not test on Windows Server 2003, expecting identical results to XP. As I am a relatively new user, I am unable to post an image of this, but I should be able to update you guys once I have more approved posts. I did test on Windows Server 2008 x64 as well, and it worked, sometimes, after a very slow waiting period. The start menu and desktop appeared odd, with icons not appearing, due to it being a 32-bit application not displaying 64-bit icons. It looked much like an early Windows 95 beta before the Cabinet had icons in the start menu. Additionally, the file manager portion of the program was non-functional. Windows 10 x64 yielded no results. Testing it on Windows Server 2008 32-bit yielded no error messages, but also no taskbar, no Explorer window, nothing.
One thing I didn't try out that could have been fun was testing the Windows NT Explorer on either Windows XP Media Center Edition, POSReady, or Home Edition.

Next, I attempted to run the Windows 2000 Explorer on more modern versions of Windows, beginning with the venerable Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3 (Home edition and pre-SP2 rarely get much love these days, but I don't have infinite time). Previous attempts to run the Windows 2000 Explorer on XP and other versions yielded an APPCRASH from kernel32.dll, so I decided to begin there. However, my alterations to the Explorer were in vain. While there was no error message, the program also did not work - it just quietly closes itslef. Moving onto Windows Server 2008, I underwent similar procedures to what I attempted on Windows XP. I then found an error in NTDLL.DLL, so I copied the Win2k version from the CD, and again edited Explorer to reference "NTHLL.DLL", a subtle stab at DLL Hell, which is largely what I am fighting against here. However, this time, my modifications were ineffective. I then took a mildly desperate stab in the dark, and replaced the Windows XP NTDLL with the Windows 2000 NTDLL in the hopes of the program working then. However, I got a somewhat predictable BSoD. For my last attempt, I went onto Windows Server 2008 R2 x64. As this is a 64-bit version of Windows, I decided to attempt the NTDLL trick again, but this time with lesser risk of a BSoD, because I would be replacing the version in the SysWoW64 directory. However, it still caused a BSoD, so I engaged startup repair and moved on.

Soon I will get to work on running the Windows XP Explorer on WS2008 and 2008R2 - I know it will work, but based on previous results not very well. Pointing it to earlier DLL versions might help. I also want to run the Vista x64 Explorer on 2008 R2 x64, using similar methods.

Meow
Posts: 128
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2020 5:28 am

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Meow »

Run the Windows 2000 explorer on the XP rtm. It only worked in safe mode for whatever reason.

Also try modifying the registry.
Try switching the windows 3.0 ega driver with windows 1.01’s. it will be fun.

Pikavolt321
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:44 pm

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Pikavolt321 »

Meow wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:23 pm
Run the Windows 2000 explorer on the XP rtm. It only worked in safe mode for whatever reason.

Also try modifying the registry.
Thanks for the suggestion, I will try that. Should it also be the Windows 2000 RTM Explorer? And how should I modify the registry exactly - what needs to change?

Meow
Posts: 128
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2020 5:28 am

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Meow »

Pikavolt321 wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:53 pm
Meow wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:23 pm
Run the Windows 2000 explorer on the XP rtm. It only worked in safe mode for whatever reason.

Also try modifying the registry.
Thanks for the suggestion, I will try that. Should it also be the Windows 2000 RTM Explorer? And how should I modify the registry exactly - what needs to change?
No, you should use the SP4 explorer. For the registry just switch the software keys from SP4 into the RTM and change paths from
WINNT to WINDOWS.
Offtopic Comment
100th post!
Try switching the windows 3.0 ega driver with windows 1.01’s. it will be fun.

Pikavolt321
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:44 pm

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Pikavolt321 »

Meow wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:01 pm
Pikavolt321 wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:53 pm
Meow wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:23 pm
Run the Windows 2000 explorer on the XP rtm. It only worked in safe mode for whatever reason.

Also try modifying the registry.
Thanks for the suggestion, I will try that. Should it also be the Windows 2000 RTM Explorer? And how should I modify the registry exactly - what needs to change?
No, you should use the SP4 explorer. For the registry just switch the software keys from SP4 into the RTM and change paths from
WINNT to WINDOWS.
Offtopic Comment
100th post!
Oh. Funny story, I accidentally did my experiment before receiving this post, using the RTM Explorer on XP RTM, the results are below.

I have worked on a new set of experiments. The Windows Vista x64 Explorer was a no-go on 2008 R2, other than a broken taskbar. Next, I started work on running the 2000 Explorer again, per advice from Meow. I installed Windows XP Professional Version 2002, with the Explorer from Windows 2000, along with an obligatory set of old DLLs just in case. I killed the XP Explorer and then ran the Windows 2000 Explorer. The taskbar worked fine, and said "Windows 2000 Professional" in the start menu as I'd expect, but if I tried to run it again, it would just open up the Windows XP file browser. I then replaced browseui.dll in Windows XP with that from Windows 2000. Surprisingly, most built-in applications worked fine. IE6 looked like IE5, and the Windows XP Explorer was that of Windows 2000. I had successfully replaced it. The Explorer eventually crashed due to an error in shell32.dll, when using the Favorites bar, but the program could be easily patched. A more elegant solution would be to patch Explorer itself with an alternative browseui.dll and leave the newer version for other applications, but it doesn't really matter. The "tasks" pane in the Explorer window, along with the "background" art stayed the same, so I then decided to actually test out replacing XP's shell32.dll with that from 2000. I'd expect it to break some programs, but not all. However, winlogon was broken. I was able to get to explorer with a sethc.exe privilege elevation exploit, and while it made Windows very glitchy and slow, it also made everything look just like Windows 2000 all over again - icons, everything, even the Winver. Beginning to feel like some sort of mad scientist, I also replaced winlogon.exe and msgina.dll, only to reach a logon screen that read "Windows 2000 Professional based on NT Technology". This was beginning to exceed my original scope, rapidly replacing XP components with those from 2000, but I am determined and nothing will stand in my way. I also disabled Windows File Protection by renaming the dllcache folder to dllcash. However, due to some sort of issue, I was unable to logon.
Overall, a resounding success on the part of the Windows 2000 Explorer running on Windows XP. It worked both inside and outside of Safe Mode (almost) perfectly. I'd expect that running the XP Explorer would duplicate the results of the 2000 Explorer for everything save the taskbar.

The 2000 Explorer on even later versions and the XP Explorer on 2008 (R2) will be my next challenge.

Meow
Posts: 128
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2020 5:28 am

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Meow »

Pikavolt321 wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:24 am
Meow wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:01 pm
Pikavolt321 wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:53 pm
Meow wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:23 pm
Run the Windows 2000 explorer on the XP rtm. It only worked in safe mode for whatever reason.

Also try modifying the registry.
Thanks for the suggestion, I will try that. Should it also be the Windows 2000 RTM Explorer? And how should I modify the registry exactly - what needs to change?
No, you should use the SP4 explorer. For the registry just switch the software keys from SP4 into the RTM and change paths from
WINNT to WINDOWS.
Offtopic Comment
100th post!
Oh. Funny story, I accidentally did my experiment before receiving this post, using the RTM Explorer on XP RTM, the results are below.

I have worked on a new set of experiments. The Windows Vista x64 Explorer was a no-go on 2008 R2, other than a broken taskbar. Next, I started work on running the 2000 Explorer again, per advice from Meow. I installed Windows XP Professional Version 2002, with the Explorer from Windows 2000, along with an obligatory set of old DLLs just in case. I killed the XP Explorer and then ran the Windows 2000 Explorer. The taskbar worked fine, and said "Windows 2000 Professional" in the start menu as I'd expect, but if I tried to run it again, it would just open up the Windows XP file browser. I then replaced browseui.dll in Windows XP with that from Windows 2000. Surprisingly, most built-in applications worked fine. IE6 looked like IE5, and the Windows XP Explorer was that of Windows 2000. I had successfully replaced it. The Explorer eventually crashed due to an error in shell32.dll, when using the Favorites bar, but the program could be easily patched. A more elegant solution would be to patch Explorer itself with an alternative browseui.dll and leave the newer version for other applications, but it doesn't really matter. The "tasks" pane in the Explorer window, along with the "background" art stayed the same, so I then decided to actually test out replacing XP's shell32.dll with that from 2000. I'd expect it to break some programs, but not all. However, winlogon was broken. I was able to get to explorer with a sethc.exe privilege elevation exploit, and while it made Windows very glitchy and slow, it also made everything look just like Windows 2000 all over again - icons, everything, even the Winver. Beginning to feel like some sort of mad scientist, I also replaced winlogon.exe and msgina.dll, only to reach a logon screen that read "Windows 2000 Professional based on NT Technology". This was beginning to exceed my original scope, rapidly replacing XP components with those from 2000, but I am determined and nothing will stand in my way. I also disabled Windows File Protection by renaming the dllcache folder to dllcash. However, due to some sort of issue, I was unable to logon.
Overall, a resounding success on the part of the Windows 2000 Explorer running on Windows XP. It worked both inside and outside of Safe Mode (almost) perfectly. I'd expect that running the XP Explorer would duplicate the results of the 2000 Explorer for everything save the taskbar.

The 2000 Explorer on even later versions and the XP Explorer on 2008 (R2) will be my next challenge.
Wow. I need to get an XP RTM iso and set it up just for this.
Also great job on getting XP to be windows 2000 again. You’ve basically made a Windows 2000 with an NT 5.1 kernel! Which is what the thread “Transplanting XP’s kernel into 2000” or something like that was all about.
After getting the XP explorer on 2008 R2 working you should really try using Vista’s explorer on XP with Alky for applications.
One more thing. Compatibility mode already lets XP’s explorer work on 7 (thus it will work on 2008 R2) but the pinned default browser and mail app part just displays as a black rectangle.
Try switching the windows 3.0 ega driver with windows 1.01’s. it will be fun.

Pikavolt321
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:44 pm

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Pikavolt321 »

Meow wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 1:38 am
Wow. I need to get an XP RTM iso and set it up just for this.
Also great job on getting XP to be windows 2000 again. You’ve basically made a Windows 2000 with an NT 5.1 kernel! Which is what the thread “Transplanting XP’s kernel into 2000” or something like that was all about.
After getting the XP explorer on 2008 R2 working you should really try using Vista’s explorer on XP with Alky for applications.
One more thing. Compatibility mode already lets XP’s explorer work on 7 (thus it will work on 2008 R2) but the pinned default browser and mail app part just displays as a black rectangle.
I have seen the XP Explorer working on Windows 7, but I am hoping that if I replace some DLLs, the usability will be somewhat better. I took a look at the thread you mentioned, and the progress they made was quite intriguing, but it's a shame they were unable to go further.

ImageImageImageImageImageImage

Meow
Posts: 128
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2020 5:28 am

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Meow »

Pikavolt321 wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:09 am
Meow wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 1:38 am
Wow. I need to get an XP RTM iso and set it up just for this.
Also great job on getting XP to be windows 2000 again. You’ve basically made a Windows 2000 with an NT 5.1 kernel! Which is what the thread “Transplanting XP’s kernel into 2000” or something like that was all about.
After getting the XP explorer on 2008 R2 working you should really try using Vista’s explorer on XP with Alky for applications.
One more thing. Compatibility mode already lets XP’s explorer work on 7 (thus it will work on 2008 R2) but the pinned default browser and mail app part just displays as a black rectangle.
I have seen the XP Explorer working on Windows 7, but I am hoping that if I replace some DLLs, the usability will be somewhat better. I took a look at the thread you mentioned, and the progress they made was quite intriguing, but it's a shame they were unable to go further.

ImageImageImageImageImageImage
Cool screenshots. I’m currently setting up an xp RTM vm to try this out. I’m also going to run XP’s explorer on 2000 and see what happens.
Offtopic Comment
I switched 2000’s and XP’s system32 folders before
Try switching the windows 3.0 ega driver with windows 1.01’s. it will be fun.

Pikavolt321
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:44 pm

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Pikavolt321 »

Your experiment of the XP Explorer on Windows 2000 intrigues me. I believe it requires UxTheme.dll from Windows XP, which can be copied over, but may have dependencies of its own. I attempted to do the same, but came up with a missing function in User32.dll. Replacing it caused an issue in NTDLL.DLL. Replacing NTDLL.DLL caused another BSoD. So, that leaves us with a few initial options

1.) Patch the XP Explorer to point to a renamed XP USER32.DLL
2.) Patch USER32.DLL to point to a renamed XP NTDLL.DLL

Meow
Posts: 128
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2020 5:28 am

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Meow »

Pikavolt321 wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 5:15 am
Your experiment of the XP Explorer on Windows 2000 intrigues me. I believe it requires UxTheme.dll from Windows XP, which can be copied over, but may have dependencies of its own. I attempted to do the same, but came up with a missing function in User32.dll. Replacing it caused an issue in NTDLL.DLL. Replacing NTDLL.DLL caused another BSoD. So, that leaves us with a few initial options

1.) Patch the XP Explorer to point to a renamed XP USER32.DLL
2.) Patch USER32.DLL to point to a renamed XP NTDLL.DLL
Yep. I'm going to do this tomorrow. Though USER32 might need some more dlls so I will probably just copy whole system32 folder into another folder and redirect all the files.

Replacing USER32 is really a bad idea.
Last edited by Meow on Tue Jun 30, 2020 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Try switching the windows 3.0 ega driver with windows 1.01’s. it will be fun.

os2fan2
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Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by os2fan2 »

Fred Vorck patched the Winnt 4.0 shell to run under Windows 2000. This produced shell4.exe and shell32.nt4, with no other files required.

razvangabriel82
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Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by razvangabriel82 »

Really interesting experiment! I have also tried something similar, as in I've swapped Windows 7 programs with Windows Vista and XP and, through the compatibility mode, they worked surprisingly well without any other modifications. Also, I tried swapping Windows XP programs with reactOS programs (as they should be pretty similar) and it also worked fine, for the most part...

Meow
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Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Meow »

Yep. I am currently patching XP’s explorer to run on 2000.
Try switching the windows 3.0 ega driver with windows 1.01’s. it will be fun.

Meow
Posts: 128
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2020 5:28 am

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Meow »

Well that did not work.
Explorer kept crashing due to an access violation in NTDLL.DLL
Try switching the windows 3.0 ega driver with windows 1.01’s. it will be fun.

Meow
Posts: 128
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2020 5:28 am

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Meow »

I got the 2000 explorer running on Windows Vista!
Image
Try switching the windows 3.0 ega driver with windows 1.01’s. it will be fun.

Pikavolt321
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:44 pm

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Pikavolt321 »

Meow wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 5:12 pm
I got the 2000 explorer running on Windows Vista!
Image
Good work! Does the start menu or file browser work, or just the taskbar so far?
os2fan2 wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:26 am
Fred Vorck patched the Winnt 4.0 shell to run under Windows 2000. This produced shell4.exe and shell32.nt4, with no other files required.
I am aware of what he did, and my procedure for the NT4 shell on Windows 2000/XP is very similar. Keep the NT4 shell32.dll in the system32 directory with a separate name (shull32.dll in my case, shell32.nt4 in his), and replace all references to the 2000 shell32 in Explorer with the NT4 renamed shell32.

Meow
Posts: 128
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2020 5:28 am

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Meow »

All of them work. However after replacing all references in Explorer.exe with references to shull32.dll and copying 2000’s shell32 to shull32, It crashed.

I had to use compatibility mode to get it to work also.
Try switching the windows 3.0 ega driver with windows 1.01’s. it will be fun.

Meow
Posts: 128
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2020 5:28 am

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Meow »

I tried NT 4’s explorer on XP POSReady 2009 and it was extremely glitchy.
First of all, the start menu banner shows up as NT workstation :P
Second, opening My computer is not how you expect. You have to right click and hit open otherwise it opens the find dialog.
Third, there are many more items on the desktop.
Don’t do this! It’s really buggy.
Try switching the windows 3.0 ega driver with windows 1.01’s. it will be fun.

Pikavolt321
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:44 pm

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Pikavolt321 »

Meow wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:47 pm
All of them work. However after replacing all references in Explorer.exe with references to shull32.dll and copying 2000’s shell32 to shull32, It crashed.

I had to use compatibility mode to get it to work also.
Yeah, compatibility mode is generally required. Can you post pictures of running the 2000 file browser and start menu on Vista? I'm really curious as to how it would look.
Meow wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:57 pm
I tried NT 4’s explorer on XP POSReady 2009 and it was extremely glitchy.
First of all, the start menu banner shows up as NT workstation :P
Second, opening My computer is not how you expect. You have to right click and hit open otherwise it opens the find dialog.
Third, there are many more items on the desktop.
Don’t do this! It’s really buggy.
Thanks for trying it out on a non-Pro/Server SKU! I am surprised it wouldn't show up as Windows NT Embedded, though the SKUs I was really curious about were Home and MCE (though the screensavers for Windows 2000 do say Professional even on Home and MCE). It is buggy, but it did work, and I had the same issue. In fact, pressing enter or double clicking on a shell item in the NT4 Explorer on 2000/XP opens the find dialog everywhere except Control Panel!

Meow
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Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Meow »

Here you are.

Image
Try switching the windows 3.0 ega driver with windows 1.01’s. it will be fun.

Pikavolt321
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:44 pm

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Pikavolt321 »

Quite impressive, though I notice that the file browser mirrors that of normal Windows Vista. Replacing browseui.dll (or pointing the 2000 Explorer to the old browseui.dll) might work, though, but the jump from 2000 to XP is much smaller than 2000 to Vista or even XP to Vista, so there might be issues.

Meow
Posts: 128
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2020 5:28 am

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Meow »

I am using hxd for hex editing, but I cannot find any mention of browseui.dll in explorer.exe.
Try switching the windows 3.0 ega driver with windows 1.01’s. it will be fun.

Pikavolt321
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:44 pm

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Pikavolt321 »

You're right, I don't see any mention either. Nevertheless, swapping the XP browseui.dll did make the 2000 explorer look more like Windows 2000, so it is worth a try to swap out the Vista one. If it breaks something, you can always swap it back with Windows PE.

Meow
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Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Meow »

Nothing. Just vista’s explorer crashing.
Try switching the windows 3.0 ega driver with windows 1.01’s. it will be fun.

Pikavolt321
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:44 pm

Re: Old Explorer, New Windows

Post by Pikavolt321 »

Darn. It was worth a try. The last thing I can think of is completely replacing the Vista Explorer in the C:\WINDOWS folder with the 2000 Explorer, so it loads that on bootup.

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