How to overcome these limitations?

This is how far I got by now. The result is a batch file that will open a task bar and an explorer. There is a script to extract files from the install.wim. The shutdown link will not work yet, and the setup window will still be displayed (and can be used to shut down). I hope to fix this soon (so that the setup window is invisible and will be closed once you click shutdown). For download, see the article on the right.

First problem was extracting files. Fortunately, the latest version of 7-Zip can extract files from WIM files. There is a command line version available that works well within the Vista Setup, (you will only need 7z.exe and 7z.dll), so this one is solved quickly.

Getting Explorer to work was a bit more tinkering, resolving dependencies with Dependency Walker, copying registry settings (which were missing according to Sysinternals Registry Monitor) from a real Vista installation
until it worked, and when I got it working, I gradually reduced the number of DLLs and registry keys until it still worked.

So, as a result, you will need these files from your install.wim to run Explorer (add MSVBVM60.DLL so that portable apps which are written in Visual Basic work as well):

  • SYSTEM32\SHDOCVW.DLL
  • SYSTEM32\RSHX32.DLL
  • SYSTEM32\EXPLORERFRAME.DLL
  • SYSTEM32\ACTXPRXY.DLL
  • SYSTEM32\%LNG%\SHDOCVW.DLL.MUI
  • SYSTEM32\%LNG%\RSHX32.DLL.MUI
  • SYSTEM32\%LNG%\EXPLORERFRAME.DLL.MUI
  • SYSTEM32\%LNG%\ACTXPRXY.DLL.MUI
  • WINDOWS\EXPLORER.EXE
  • WINDOWS\%LNG%\EXPLORER.EXE.MUI

%LNG% means the language version of your Vista CD, i. e. en-US for English or de-DE for German. To autodetect this version from a batch file, use the folder that matches x:\sources\??-?? and save its name to %LNG%.

You will also need about 8K of registry settings (mostly the result of registering the DLLs mentioned above) to get Explorer working. Import those with regedit.

Then run explorer and be happy about your nifty taskbar that appears.

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