Windows 7 Tip of the Week
Remove the Windows Features You Don't Need

Tip date: September 4, 2010

Windows 7 brings back a feature from older Windows versions: The ability to add and remove bundled applications and services on the fly. This capability is accessible via the Windows Features interface, which can be accessed through Start Menu Search (turn on windows) or through the Control Panel, via Programs/Uninstall a Program and then Turn Windows Features on or off. However you do it, you'll be confronted by the simple UI shown here.

Windows 7 Tip of the Week: Remove the Windows Features You Don't Need

The following programs and services can be added or removed using this interface:


Games. This includes all built-in Windows games, including Chess Titans, FreeCell, Hearts, Internet Backgammon, Internet Checkers, Internet Spades, Mahjong Titans, Minesweeper, More Games, Purble Palace, Solitaire, and Spider Solitaire. Depending on the Windows 7 product edition you're using, you may have a subset of this list. Whether these games are enabled by default will depend on which version of Windows 7 you're using as well.

Indexing Service. Disabled by default, this is the predecessor to Windows Search and will not normally be needed.

Internet Explorer. Microsoft's built-in web browser is enabled by default.

Internet Information Service. Microsoft's web server, and accompanying technologies such as an FTP server and management tools, are all disabled by default.

Internet Information Service Hostable Web Core. Aimed at developers, this version of the web server can be hosted inside of third party applications. It's disabled by default.

Media Features. You can selectively disable Windows DVD Maker, Windows Media Center, and Windows Media Player if you'd like.

Microsoft .NET Framework 3.51. Windows 7 ships with the .NET Framework enabled, but sub-features like Windows Communication Foundation HTTP Activation and Windows Communication Foundation Non-HTTP Activation are disabled by default.

Microsoft Message Queue (MSMQ) Server. Another feature aimed at developers, MSMQ provides a way for software components to send, save (queue), and receive messages in environments in which the different components might not always be available. Multiple messages can be bundled into transactions that succeed or fail as a group, with rollback capabilities. It's disabled by default and not of interest to the general end-user.

Print and Document Services. In addition to its core printing capabilities, Windows 7 provides access to a number of related features, some of which are enabled by default, and some which are not. On the enabled front are Internet Printing Client (which lets you print over the Internet Printing Protocol, or IPP) and Windows Fax and Scan (a decidedly old-school application not updated since Vista). Disabled by default are LPD Print Service (Line Printer Daemon, an older UNIX-style printing service), LPR Port Monitor (for UNIX-style Line Printer Remote printer sharing), and Scan Management (for monitoring and administering network-based scanners).

Remote Differential Compression. Enabled by default, this technology works under the hood on both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 to make network-based file copy and synchronization between those two systems more efficient, on both local and widely distributed networks.

RIP Listener. Disabled by default, the RIP (Routing Information Protocol) Listener waits for route updates sent by routers (generally from Cisco) that use the Routing Information Protocol in a corporate LAN. It is disabled by default.

Services for NFS. This includes administrative tools and the NFS client, both of which are disabled by default. NFS is an older network file system for UNIX-based systems, and these tools allow Windows to interoperate with NFS-based servers.

Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). Also disabled by default, SNMP is a legacy networking protocol designed for monitoring and administering compatible network-based devices. There is also a WMI provider for SNMP, so that developers can access SNMP data via a more modern interface.

Simple TCP/IP services (i.e. echo, daytime, etc.). This is a small collection of legacy, command line-based network tools including character generator, daytime, discard, echo, and quote of the day. It is disabled by default.

Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications. Disabled by default, this software subsystem lets you run UNIX applications, based on the Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX), within Windows. It's disabled by default.

Tablet PC Components. Curiously installed by default on all PCs, including those without Tablet PC hardware, this consists of a number of features, including Windows Journal, the Math Input Panel, and some features related to handwriting recognition.

Telnet Client. If you have your own Hot Tub Time Machine and need to communicate in real time with others a legacy Telnet (TELecommunication NETwork) server for some reason, you can install this Telnet client. This is disabled by default, and for good reason: It was an electronic attack vector in the days before it was configured this way.

Telnet Server. If you'd like to host Telnet-based text chats, then enable the Telnet Server and go to town.

TFTP Client. This command line FTP client isn't enabled by default, most likely because there are far better free GUI-based FTP clients out there.

Windows Gadget Platform. The Windows Gadget Platform, enabled by default, provides the presentation environment for Windows Gadgets (i.e. sidebar.exe) as well as the collection of available Windows Gadgets. Don't want 'em? Disable it.

Windows Process Activation Service. This widely misunderstood service is not related to Product Activation but is rather a foundational service for message-based applications and components. It is aimed at developers, and is disabled by default.

Windows Search. Enabled by default, this is a core feature of Windows 7.

Windows TIFF IFilter. This extension to Windows Search allows you to search the contents of scanned TIFF files for text. It is disabled by default because the optical character recognition (OCR) functionality it requires is performance constrained. But if you're going to need to search the contents of scanned documents saved in the TIFF format, this is a candidate for enabling.

XPS Services. Like Windows Vista, Windows 7 includes support for Microsoft's PDF-like XPS document format. The XPS Services component, enabled by default, provides basic XPS functionality such as printing and saving.

XPS Viewer. This is the end user XPS Viewer application, which allows you to view documents saved in Microsoft's XPS format. It is enabled by default.