So you don't like the default start button, and you want to change it. In previous versions of Windows, this was very hard to do and it was kinda pointless. In Windows 7, it's easier and more awesome to do.
First thing you'll need is a resource editor. If you're on 32bit Windows 7 - you can use pretty much anything. Resource hacker is a good tool. If you're on 64bit, well, it's a little harder. There are no free 64bit supporting resource editors out there. None. Nada. You can't use a 32bit resource editor on a 64bit resource either
. So you'll have to somehow obtain one, the only one I know of that works is Restorator 2007.
Second thing you'll need is a graphics editor. Gimp, Paint.NET, Photoshop, all of them work.
Alright, so to start, we'll use this template:
Open this up in Photoshop or whatever and start editing. This is your standard template.
A = The start button without your mouse over it.
B = The start button with your mouse over it (Will fade from A to this)
C = The start button clicked on and the start menu open.
You can even make the circles a square, just make sure you stay within 27px from the center of the circle, as that is your boundry. Note that black = transparency.
Here's the finished product for one I made earlier:
Now, open up your resource editor. Copy explorer.exe to the desktop, and open that with your resource editor.
In the "Bitmap" section, you'll want to replace 1 of 2 things. Either bitmap 6801, or 6805. 6801 is for the taskbar with "Use Small Icons", and 6805 is for the normal taskbar. The other bitmaps are for different DPIs, but we're not going to go into that. You can replace both 6801 and 6805 if you like.
Take ownership of the original explorer.exe, rename it to explorer.bak, and replace it with the new modded one. Restart explorer, and viola.
I'll go into detail about taking ownership and stuff tomorrow, just wanted to get this out there now.