I am filing this not as a tip but rather as an encouraging info. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal any technical details of my implementations here at this stage of the project (done for a customer) but more to show up soon, I hope.
It has been a problem for quite some time to get some of the Explorer-only features working on XPe without Explorer shell. Myself I had a negative post to the newsgroup on the subject.
The real challenge appears there not when you remove the Explorer.exe from the image but when you stop launching Explorer as shell.
Removing Explorer gives you a lot:
- Explorer is in general a big security hole.
- It is hard to get rid of all unwanted pieces of the Explorer.
- Explorer is not for embedded (it is not "embedded" type of application and have never been really componentized).
- Explorer increases your image footprint. Explorer dependencies are awfully big.
- Explorer implements only 2 foot UI and it may be very inconsistent to your own applications GUI.
- so on.
Anyway, I finally managed to develop my own shell that implements missing pieces that were only working with Explorer Shell so far. Someday I will post what are the missing features among which is the AutoPlay. But the important message now is that AutoPlay can be working without Explorer shell running in background. You just have to do some hacking and coding within your own shell app.
Another good news is that I got the same shell app up and running on Vista (with some mods though) where I stripped out Explorer components.