So, today I will show you guys how you can make your Windows 7 desktop looks just like Windows 98!
Note: You won’t be able to get it to look exactly like Windows 98, unless if you go in and edit system files. Although you can change system icons, there will be icons that you will be unable to change, simply because there’s no Windows 98-equivalent, E.G the games, user folder, and some other icons, including control panel icons.
Alright, let’s begin!
First what you want to do is to change the theme. You don’t need any third-party theme; the required theme is already built into Windows. Simply select the classic theme, and then change the background color to green, and the windows borders and 3D elements to solid gray, and the title bar and selection to solid dark blue. To make sure that you get it right, you can compare Windows 98 screenshot with your desktop’s appearance.
If you only care about the general appearance, then that’s the end of the tutorial. However, you can also change the sounds.
Note: You need to have access to a working Windows 98/98SE desktop with USB support to be able to get the system sounds!
Alternatively, if you don’t have that kind of old PC around anymore, you can use a virtual machine, however you need a virtual machine software, like VMware Workstation/Player, VirtualBox and Microsoft Virtual PC (Windows Virtual PC 2009/HyperV in Windows 8 may work, but I haven’t test on any of those software). In addition, you need to download a Windows 98 CD image or use the old CD if you still have it. Otherwise, if you can’t be bothered to use up 100+MB of your disk space just to get your Windows 7 to look like 98 but you still want the system sounds, you could try finding them on the internet.
First, you need to copy the system sounds from your Windows 98 PC to your USB. Make sure that USB is working on your PC. Plug in your USB (I think the USB needs to be FAT32 as well, since Windows 98 doesn’t support NTFS). Go to C:\Windows\Media to find the system sounds. Copy the entire folder to your USB drive.
If you’re doing this on a virtual machine, the best thing to do is to mount the Windows 98 virtual hard disk as a drive. Once again, the sounds are located at x:\Windows\Media (replace x with the letter of the mounted drive). In any cases, I highly recommend that you first create a new folder in C:\Windows\Media of your Windows 7 PC, naming it “Windows 98” and place the Windows 98 sounds you just obtained in that folder.
Then, go into personalization, and click on sounds.
Now you’re free to change whatever you like. Note, the cord sound replaces most of the modern Windows sounds (ding, exclamation, etc). Use “start.wav” for the start navigation sound.
Also, you won’t be able to change the Windows 7 startup sound right from the interface. There’s a utility for it, but it can only be change system-wide, not on a per-theme bases.
That’s pretty much it for this tutorial. As stated if you’re an advanced user, you may want to go deeper and change system icons and modify system files, and even the login/boot screens.