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NoelC

Let the Re-Tweakage Begin

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Today I upgraded my Win 10 test VM, which was running a trimmed-down, all-business version 1607 build 14393.969 setup quite flawlessly, to the new Creator's update, version 1703 build 15063.

I had to go find updated VMware Tools, newer than the version 11 VMware Workstation I'm using, in order not to have it black screen.

And I disabled Aero Glass for Win 8+ completely, by both unregistering DWMGlass.dll and disabling the Task Sheduler entry for AeroHost.  I also returned the desktop to the stock Windows 10 theme (I'm sure going to miss rounded controls with wonderful skeuomorphism for a while).

Process count to support an idle desktop in version 1607 before the upgrade:  41

Process count after the upgrade:  105 (!!)

Microsoft split most services out so that they run one per svchost.exe process instance.

And they ALSO installed a buttload of additional bloatware - hence the title of this thread.  In pursuit of an App-free, cloud-disconnected, private, desktop OS, I have begun the process of trimming it down.  So far that's going surprisingly well.

To my surprise, many of the things I had installed before remained functional - for example Classic Shell is still on task, and the Sphinx firewall is running fine.  And they didn't even revert my UAC-disabling setting of the EnableLUA registry entry.  Nice of them.

But they DID reinstall a more Apps hosts and brokers and services than you can shake a stick at.

So far I've gone through these things:

Window title bars were too big, needed to run SetWindowsMetrics.reg.
Needed to turn on System Protection (Restore Points).
O&O ShutUp10 restored 7 settings that were made less private.
Updated to latest release of WinAero Tweaker.
  Menu Show Delay Reduced
  Enable Balloon tooltips
  Disable Quick Action buttons in Actions Center
  Removed some Default Entries in File Explorer's context menu
  Customize Quick Access Item
  Disable the "- Shortcut" text for shortcuts
  Disable Windows Ink Workspace
  Uncheck Disable Password Reveal Button
Turn off messages about firewall in Security and Maintenance
Turn off messages about virus protection in Security and Maintenance
Finish installing HP printer device software in Security and Maintenance
(noted BITS attempted to contact fs.microsoft.com)
(noted wermgr attempted to contact msftconnecttest.com)
Windows10ReTweaker:
  Increase Privacy
  Remove OneDrive
  Set default optimization to General Items
  Unhide AppData and ProgramData folders
  Disable generation of hidden Thumbs.db files
Disable Windows Search (SearchIndexer) service in Services.msc
Disable SuperFetch in Services.msc
Disable Sync Host_2efa9.  Can only stop it in Services.msc.  Needs to be disabled in registry: 
Run through the Settings App:
  System:
    Disable "Show me the Windows welcome experience".
    When I sign in "Use desktop mode".
    When this device automatically switches tablet mode on or off "Don't ask me and don't switch".
    On the taskbar, show windows that are open on "All desktops"
    Pressing Alt+Tab shows windows that are open on "All desktops"
  Devices
    Uncheck Let Windows manage my default printer
Windows10ReTweaker:
  Remove all Apps
Manually disabled the Network Connection Broker

At this point an idle desktop has just 84 processes running, with no Cortana or other Apps and no cloud stuff, and uses 1.06 GB of RAM.

I'm going to be continuing this quest, but I've already gotten far enough to be able to say that Win 10 version 1703 still can be trimmed down to be a desktop-only system.

Microsoft hangs it on, I trim it off.  It remains to be seen whether a system so-tweaked is any better than its predecessors.

-Noel

Edited by NoelC

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6 hours ago, NoelC said:

Microsoft hangs it on, I trim it off.  It remains to be seen whether a system so-tweaked is any better than its predecessors.

Probably not, at least not significantly. My excuse for running latest Windows version is that it usually runs the widest collection of software/games. Unless you're fan of UWP apps, I don't see any advantage. Sure, there are some small nice things there and there, but are they really worth it?

My main Windows 10 installation decided to crap itself, update KB4014329 just refuses to install with ERROR_SXS_TRANSACTION_CLOSURE_INCOMPLETE. Usual remedies don't help, neither sfc /scannow nor Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth find any corruption, tried with /RestoreHealth anyway and specified good install.wim from fresh ISO image, still no go, Windows Update troubleshooter supposedly found and fix some corruption in Windows Update database, nope, still won't install, manually cleaned Windows\SoftwareDistribution after stopping Windows Update, no, that's not it neither. Needless to say, I did reboot between each troubleshooting step and ruled out hardware failures.

At this point, who knows if it would even upgrade to 1703 without some fail in the middle of the process. Might just disable Windows Update completely and stay with the current build. Or I could go back to Windows 8.1, that option would also work well for me, it just takes time to set everything back to the way I like it.

Either way, the OS should be transparent and not stay in the user's way. Windows 10 seems to be exceptionally good at doing the exact opposite. Now, you're excepted to fight the OS every few months. Not in Microsoft's opinion, you're supposed to take it as it is.

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I'm also trying to tweak and customize this version of Windows, good point, RS1 visual styles works as is. Compared to Windows 8.1, I don't see any improvements that could justify using it as my main system and having to retweak it every few months is really boring...
But you can revert the svchost spliting for services to revert the old behaviour http://winaero.com/blog/set-split-threshold-svchost-windows-10/

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On ‎4‎/‎1‎/‎2017 at 3:27 AM, MTDirector said:

you can revert the svchost spliting for services to revert the old behaviour http://winaero.com/blog/set-split-threshold-svchost-windows-10/

Thanks for the tip.  Having them separate actually makes determining which ones can be terminated and still have full system function a little easier - for now.

Notably my CPU was idle 99.30% of the time prior to the Creator's Update.  Now it's idle only about 99.15%, so that shows the system is a bit less efficient at doing nothing at all.  I have wondered whether managing all those extra processes might be the reason.  I will experiment at some point.

Having removed ALL the Apps except for the I've determined that I probably need to leave a few intact (Microsoft.Windows.SecHealthUI?), because Windows Defender was blown away afterward.

EDIT:  Scratch that, I have Defender working now with NO Apps installed.  Woohoo!

WindowsDefenderWorks.png

-Noel

Edited by NoelC
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Down to 77 processes to support an idle desktop, with most of the services running in separate svchost processes.  My Windows10ReTweaker.bat file is updated, and as you can see from screen grabs above does a pretty dandy job of removing all the Apps except what's required to support the Settings panel.

Aero Glass of course isn't out in a compatible version, but I am hopeful that Big Muscle will get around to updating it for the new version of Windows.  I wouldn't be surprised if he's getting tired of having to play catch-up with Microsoft all the time, though.

-Noel

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OK, I have my Windows 10 VM set up, running version 1607. I want to keep it that way, and I want to try your Re-Tweaker. Where can I get it?

c

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http://win10epicfail.proboards.com/thread/100/interested-participating-tweaker-development-test

Please make sure to read about what it does; it cuts deep in some ways.  You might need some of the things I disable.

Note that some have reported that the App removal process doesn't go as smoothly as I see it go; it might be a matter of timing.

-Noel

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This turned out to be a bit longer than intended, but someone may find my recent experience interesting, otherwise, feel free to skip the following 3 paragraphs.

My decision whether to stay with Windows 10 or go back to 8.1 on my old trusty desktop was made easier by a recent BSOD I got during troubleshooting the update problem (UNEXPECTED_STORE_EXCEPTION), which left some serious corruption in the file system. The system was half-broken after a reboot, couldn't even open Computer Management. Running chkdsk afterwards from Recovery fixed a lot of errors, but also purged a lot of OS related data, which rendered it unbootable. Suddenly there was approximately 20 GB of extra free space on the OS partition.

It could be that at one point in time, possibly after Anniversary Update, some sort of incompatibility arose with the customized driver for my motherboard's SATA controller. It was occasionally reporting some generic error for all my disks in event log. The motherboard is from 2008 and the last time drivers for its chipset were updated was back in 2010 when Windows 7 was the latest version. Despite the error, nothing appeared out of the ordinary for the long time, which makes this case even stranger. Been running Windows 10 since build 10586.

Testing hardware doesn't indicate any failures, RAM is OK, S.M.A.R.T. parameters are normal, not a single sector had to be reallocated in the past, no read or write errors etc. Windows 10 still functions on my own and family members' laptop, all of which have newer hardware. The only problem encountered few weeks ago was the Intel graphics driver failing to update properly on one machine via Windows Update, surprisingly, I got the newer driver to work without much hassle; rolling back to the old one from Device Manager, running uninstaller from Program and features, rebooting, then it could be magically updated via Device Manager without a problem, which installed the same version from Windows Update. Still, it shows how unreliable Windows Update can be, even when it offers the driver that does actually work fine, but somehow fails installing it properly so the user is stuck with low-resolution mode.

The first thing I've noticed when installing Windows 10 is how much longer it can take to boot, especially on cold startup where fast startup aka. resume from hibernation isn't involved. If Windows 8.1 and 7 could be ready in 30 seconds or less, Windows 10 can take whole minute. While SSD disks are the norm these days, there's no reason for a PC with a decent classic HDD to not feel reasonably snappy. Although the type of hard drive isn't the only contributing factor, the difference can be really astonishing. This reminds me of the most silly argument I've ever heard from Microsoft from the time Windows 8 was released: We've made startup process so fast that we don't let you press F8 anymore to let you access the boot menu. Faster boot times being popular argument in favor of Windows 10, yet I'm seeing the exact opposite results. Fast startup is compensating for bad startup performance more than ever in Windows 10, and it's still faster in 8.1.

Windows 8.1 with fast startup enabled and without disabling anything manages to get me to the desktop so fast that Welcome screen doesn't even have the time to appear! My main monitor needs 3 seconds to display the image after receiving initial signal when the display driver takes over (it's not plugged in the first DVI port). Then just add 2-3 seconds for the Windows boot screen. Windows 10 always took its time before it was ready. Can also observe the slowness when comparing with virtual machines. Perhaps this script could turn things around in such scenario? Will definitely give it a go next time I'm messing with Windows 10.

Someone reported the tweaker script cut memory usage from 70% to 30% on a machine with 1 GB of memory. That's very impressive! Seems like Microsoft is updating OS but not the minimum hardware requirements for optimal experience. On Windows 8.1 with Classic Shell after taking care of few checkboxes, Metro stuff can be easily ignored. NTLite may be worth checking out, though you don't get all of its functionality for free.

I still don't get the decision for removal of things like MIDI Mapper and GUI allowing full control over wireless connections since Windows 8. On the other hand, you still find policy settings applicable for older systems dating as far back as Windows XP in Group Policy Editor. But additions in Windows 10 still make the OS heavier than it should be, regardless of whether the user utilizes them or not.

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Here is my highly tweaked Windows 10 VM:

58e4719262968_windows10vm.thumb.png.8ce3f03f68c76f0df92f80570b505688.png

I ran the Re-Tweaker script, the blackbird script (which overlaps with the Re-Tweaker some wrt privacy settings), installed Winaero Tweaker, 7+ Taskbar Tweaker, Aero Glass 8+, OldNewExplorer, and of course, Classic Start Menu, and it is *almost* the same as 8.1.

Some minor annoyances, though:

  • The system tray icons are weird and distorted, and the Quick Launch (I'm amazed that it's still in there, after all these years) icons are weirdly spaced.
  • The titlebars are too big, but if I make them much smaller, the caption and icon get cut off a bit on top.
  • It's a bit clunkier and slower overall than 8.1 on the same hardware, with the same RAM and CPU allocations.

All in all, though, it's surprisingly not too bad. I'd never run it on real hardware, though, so it stays in the VM.

c

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Out of curiosity, can you schedule a job in the Task Scheduler that runs at a particular time and run it?  I'm getting an oddball error when I try to run a newly scheduled calendar/time-based job (by right-clicking on a Task Scheduler entry and choosing Run).  Other jobs - e.g., one that is set to run at logon - works just fine.

OddTaskSchedulerError.png

EDIT:

I got to the bottom of the above problem.  Apparently, unlike with prior versions, the TimeBrokerSvc is actually required for proper Task Scheduler operation.  Version 1.14 of my Windows10ReTweaker script had disabled it.  That's been removed in version 1.15 (at the same link described above).

In order to re-enable it, if you've already run Windows10ReTweaker.bat, open RegEdit and change the following Start value from 4 back to 1, then reboot.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\TimeBrokerSvc]
"Start"=dword:00000001

This is what I'm seeing right now...

Tweaked15063.13Desktop.png

-Noel

Edited by NoelC
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The double edged sword when it comes to disabling services when something mysteriously breaks like that.

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Yes, it's true - but if you don't try you don't know.   So far with that one service re-enabled it's working pretty nicely.

I look doubly hard at precisely the ones Microsoft tries to prevent us from disabling through permissions.  The entire "unistack group", for example seems utterly unnecessary without Apps.  I couldn't have known that without actually trying to disable the whole bunch of them.

-Noel

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I'm trying to figure out why the system tray icons are distorted and smaller than usual.

Does anyone know why?

c

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On 3/4/2017 at 7:08 PM, NoelC said:

http://win10epicfail.proboards.com/thread/100/interested-participating-tweaker-development-test

Please make sure to read about what it does; it cuts deep in some ways.  You might need some of the things I disable.

Note that some have reported that the App removal process doesn't go as smoothly as I see it go; it might be a matter of timing.

-Noel

I read all the thread in that link but didn't find an answer for this two questions:

My OS is x64, SQLite3.exe is only x86 so no dilemma, but SetACL.exe has x64 and x86 versions, I should use x64, Is this right?

Also my local Network is wireless, I commeted out (::) in script all related to WlanSvc in order to don't loose wireless connection, Is that enough?

Best Regards

alacran

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Hi alacran,

If you have an x64 system it's better to use the 64 bit SetACL.exe.

Honestly I don't have a wireless system here to test on so I don't know for sure.  There may be some commenters in the thread on the other forum who have stated what's necessary to keep wireless connectivity.

I'd suggest exporting the entire HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services subkey first so that you can see what things were set to before.  If you lose network connectivity you could restore services (and restart) until you get it working again.

Good luck, and please post what you find.

-Noel

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