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Startbutton and menu bitmap
There's several ways to change icon and text on the startbutton, replace both with a bitmap and to change the sidebar bitmap on the startmenu:
If you just wanna get rid of the bitmap Microsoft puts on the left side of the startmenu, you could just go to taskbar properties and make it display small icons. But if you want them normal...

[*toptool:] ..you can easely change the bitmap on your startmenu and place a bitmap or icon on the startbutton with a nifty app called Tclock. It's free, effective, for Win 9x/2k, uses little resources and lets you customize the clock too (latest - beta - version lets you have a gradient behind in too). There's more options, like a flat button and taskbar and more.
Development is continuing, though slow. While you don't seem to be able to add your language modules on their site, if you want, you can have them added here.
  • Albanian, done by spyder (Tclock 2.3.0).
Tclock2 is developed by Two_toNe, building on Tclocks source. It makes it XP compatible, but adds a lot of new options too, like a flat systray, transparency for taskbar/startmenu, edge scaling for startmenu banner, small desktop icons and lots more. This is a real improvement (!) - find it here!

Note on displaying system resources in clock area. The lastest Kazubon Tclock versions have some options, and thus Tclock2, building on source, has them too. These are available, some only available for 9x. Tags you need to enter in your custom format for the clock are bold:

Win 9x/2k/XP CU CPU activity
Win 9x RG GDI resources
Win 9x RS System resources
Win 9x RU User resources
Win 9x/2k/XP MK Available RAM in kB
Win 9x/2k/XP MM Available RAM in Mb

Also note, if you choose custom format, you can enter any words to be displayed there; do that between "quotes" to avoid confusion with time related tags (both versions).
[*toptool:] Another free utility, Eppie, lets you place a button on the startbutton too (and does the buttons on every window, but not in 2k/XP).

Hook99 (free, Win 9x/2k) is another app to customize the button, that's the text, textcolor, icon or bitmap display. You can have it flat too, and - cool - the systray too! Plus a little more...

For XP, there's Startbutton renamer, freeware (thanks kaizix).

A last option for the startbutton is Skinner. Shareware ($10), but lets you paste bitmaps on the startbutton for normal, hovered and clicked state.
[*plastic:] Cool, but $10 will also get you Panekiller, which has same effects and much more...
Start Killer from TrueSoft (free, Win 9x/2k) removes the startbutton, though taskbar space doesn't come free.
The icon on the button is contained in the file
9x - (x:\windows\system\)user.exe
2k - (x:\winnt\system32\)user32.dll

In XP it's no icon, but bitmap #143 in explorer.exe.
It can be edited with an icon librarian + editor, or a resource editor (easier). For Win 9x you'll need eXeScope, a resource editor that can handle 16-bit files (user.exe is). The original flag icon has got several not common formats, depending on your OS version. If you want to create all you'll need is the icon suites, but a simple 32 x 32 icon will get resized (a 16 x 16 version added would be good, that's the format the button uses).

The 'Start' text and the bitmap on the menu are contained in (x:\windows\ or x:\winnt\) "explorer.exe". The first can be edited by a HEX editor. Search for a string "530074006100720074" ("Start" separated by null characters). There's several, but the offset for the right string is differing with OS and language versions... but it should be right after this line: "There was an internal error and one of the windows you were using has been closed" or however that sounds in your language :).

Or use a resource editor, once more, much easier :) Find the proper edit at string (table) #37.

The bitmap can be edited by a resource editor too (bitmap #157 and above). More info and all above tools here.

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