Switching Service Applet to Standard (XP, Vista, W7)

Qlemo"Batchelor", Developer and EE Topic Advisor
The Service applet starts in Extended Mode by Default, with a taskpad on the left of the services pane. This view mode was introduced in XP. As I find it not very usefull, I like to use the Standard view as default, and without the Console tree.

Before & After Images:
Services applet - DefaultServices applet - Changed
With XP, setting up was easy:
Start mmc /a services.msc
Make all changes on the view, like switching to Standard view, switchting off Console tree, aso.
Whenever you call services.msc, or the Services applet using Control Panel, the "classic" view is shown, allowing for a better overview and more description readable.

Vista and Windows 7 (and above)
With Vista and Windows 7, protection mechanisms and Internationalization make it more difficult.

First, all system files, including the *.msc, are protected. You can't overwrite them by default. Instead of using System File Protection like XP, Vista is relying on correct file access permissions. Hence the system files are owned by TrustedInstaller, and all other users including Administrators do have Read and Execute permission. We need to change this (later).

Second, many system files are located in a language dependant subfolder. Usually, there are only MUI files to replace text, but .msc files are "mirrored" as a whole. The file in system32 is just a placeholder (I suppose for compatibility reasons).

Taken together, this means we have to unprotect and change a file in a system32 subfolder. Knowing this makes it "easy". I'll stick on the Service applet, and assume an US english system:
Open a cmd.exe (Command Prompt) in Administrator mode, and then use:
cd /d %SystemRoot%\system32
                      cd en-US
                      icacls services.msc /save %TEMP%\services.acl /Q
                      takeown /f services.msc
                      icacls services.msc /grant %username%:F /Q
                      mmc /a services.msc
                      REM let this cmd window open, we will need it again

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Now do your changes, and save it in the correct (!) folder, which is %SystemRoot%\system32\en-US in most cases. To reestablish the protection feature, we change owner and access permissions back:
icacls services.msc /setowner TrustedInstaller
                      icacls . /restore %TEMP%\services.acl /Q

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Now call the Services applet, and voilá.

How about Windows Patches, Services Packs aso.?
Well, to be honest, I do not know. The files might be replaced, and you have to do the changes again. However, it is very unlikely .msc files are replaced by a Windows Update. Service Packs could replace the files, though.
With XP, the change of the .msc files is unrelated to the System File Protection feature (SFC), as the file itself is yet valid. Repair installations could replace the file, of course.
Qlemo"Batchelor", Developer and EE Topic Advisor

Comments (1)

Distinguished Expert 2019

Nice idea!

Just in case someone might wonder:
icacls services.msc /setowner TrustedInstaller
does not work. You have to use the account "NT SERVICE\TrustedInstaller" enclosed in quotation marks.

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