Windows 7 – Turning Features On and Off

Windows 7 Some interesting news coming out of Windows 7 development (which is on track for a Release Candidate – RC). The “Turn Windows Features On or Off” function has been greatly expanded. It even includes the ability to turn off Internet Explorer 8.

You can now turn of quite a few things in Windows 7 – the files are literally not loaded by the Windows 7 operating system. One of the developers sees this as a big benfit for “security-conscious customers”, but I’m thinking in terms of netbooks/ultraportables/mids/etc. where the resources are much more limited than on larger laptops/notebooks.

It is mentioned that even if you turn off a feature, that the data/binaries/software still exists on the drive. The benefit is that you don’t need a DVD to enable the feature, which is important to those with smaller devices which don’t have optical drives.

However, and it’s not quite addressed by any of the developers in the article, it doesn’t appear there is a way to remove the actual features, which might free up some space. As somebody in one of the follow-up comments mentioned, storage space is becoming less and less of an issue. Solid State Drives (SSD), where storage space is at a premium, have only been increasing in size while decreasing in cost. As I mentioned yesterday, you can easily get a netbook/ultraportable with a 16GB or 32GB SSD for under $400 USD.

Back in November, we mentioned that we were seeing Windows 7 take up 20GB in a fresh install. Chances are that the space requirements would come down by the time Windows 7 is released to manufacturing, since there was probably a lot of debug code and binaries that would be removed before RTM. By the time Windows 7 is released later this year, 32GB SSDs will probably be much cheaper and more widely available as an option in these devices.

From the MSDN blog:

If a feature is deselected, it is not available for use. This means the files (binaries and data) are not loaded by the operating system (for security-conscious customers) and not available to users on the computer. These same files are staged so that the features can easily be added back to the running OS without additional media. This staging is important feedback we have received from customers who definitely do not like to dig up the installation DVD.

For any of the features listed you can change the state to enable it or disable it. The Vista and Windows 7 beta control panel lists a wide range of features. Some are targeted towards Developers working on a client workstation (IIS, MSMQ, etc.), others are utilities for network administrators and enthusiasts (RSM, SNMP, Telnet, etc.), and some are features customers have asked us to make optional (Games, Fax and Scan, Tablet PC components).

In Windows 7 we are expanding the number of features you have control over in this regard, giving customers more control, flexibility and choice in managing the features available in this version of Windows. In addition to the features that were already available to turn on or off in Windows Vista, we’ve added the following features to the list in Windows 7:

* Windows Media Player
* Windows Media Center
* Windows DVD Maker
* Internet Explorer 8
* Windows Search
* Handwriting Recognition (through the Tablet PC Components option)
* Windows Gadget Platform
* Fax and Scan
* XPS Viewer and Services (including the Virtual Print Driver)

It is worth describing the details of “remove” since this too is a place where there are engineering and customer decisions to be made. We’ve already seen one decision which is to make sure we keep the features staged for future use so that a DVD is not required. A second decision is that we also continue to support the APIs available for features where these APIs are necessary to the functionality of Windows or where there are APIs that are used by developers that can be viewed as independent of the component. As many of you know these are often referred to as “dependencies” and with Windows the dependencies can run both internal to Windows and external for ISVs.

Read: Engineering Windows 7 (MSDN)
via ZDNet

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