How to make Desk.cpl from Windows 2000 run on Windows 8 and 10

Page Last Modified: May 2, 2015

display settings from windows 2000 running on windows 10

Windows 8 completely got rid of the "classic" theme, and a lot of the more advanced display settings, like the ability to set custom fonts and sizes for stuff. I managed to get desk.cpl from Windows 2000 to run on Windows 8, and you get all that stuff back. some of the settings don't work, but you can size the title bar independently from it's font size, which is nice. I don't have access to Windows 8 right now, so all the screenshots here are taken from Windows 10 build 10074, where nobody can change the title bar color anyway.

Before we go any further, I feel like I should say something: I (Floyd) am not responsible if you break you're computer. you have accepted that, in the unlikely event something goes terribly wrong, you will take responsibility for your own actions, and I did nothing but offer vague instructions.

there, now that that's over...

Things you need from Windows 2000:

  1. desk.cpl
  2. comctl32.dll
  3. themes.exe

Making the stuff work:

ok now that you have all the stuff, we need to rename some files.
desk.cpl --> desk2k.cpl
themes.exe --> themes2k.exe
comctl32.dll --> comctl2k.dll

themes2k.exe should work just fine now, you are done with it. You can use it to import Windows 2000/XP (also maybe windows 98?) theme files into Windows 10.
the windows 2000 desktop themes program

Here's where it gets kinda complicated. open up desk2k.cpl in a hex editor, (I use one called HxD, you can Google that for yrself) and replace every instance of comctl32 with comctl2k (there should be two instances).
this is what HxD looks like

Running the Programs

put the three files together in a folder somewhere, and everything should work fine. You can launch desk2k.cpl simply by double-clicking on it, or via command line by typing control desk2k.cpl. When you open it, it will give you an error message:
here's an error messgae
pretty self explanatory, basically you cant change the display settings using this, but the background, screen saver, and appearance tabs all work fine.
ok that's all, goodbye!

discuss this on the forum.