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Removing Windows Components after Installation in Windows 2000

As I noted inmy review of Windows 2000 Professional Beta 3, one of the more annoying new "features" in this product is the removal of a custom install option, which allows the user to pick and choose the desired components that are installed during Setup. Windows 95, 98, and NT 4.0 offer this feature and I don't know of a single Windows NT administrator that doesn't choose the "Custom" option during install. Why it was removed has yet to be answered to my satisfaction (UPDATE: Due to my complaints, Microsoft re-enabled this feature in the Server versions of Windows 2000. The company tells me that it was left out of Professional because they expect administrators to perform scripted installations of Pro to achieve custom installs. This doesn't help individuals, however).

In any event, you can script a Windows 2000 custom install if you're going to be installing a number of identical Windows 2000 Professional systems. This achieves the goal, in theory, of a custom install, but it's likely to be an option that is pursued at large installations only. What if you've already installed Beta 3 (Professional or Server) and would like to remove some of the more annoying Windows components, such as the Accessibility features or the games?

First stop: Add/Remove Programs
If you're like me, you were probably confused by the lack of a custom install. And, you probably went right to Control Panel --> Add/Remove Programs to get rid of some of the stuff you'd never have installed were you given the chance. But a quick look at the Windows Component Wizard (Figure 1), which is launched when you choose "Add/Remove Windows Components" from the Add/Remove Programs dialog, shows that none of these components are anywhere to be found. On a Professional setup, the following components are available for installation:

  • Internet Information Services (IIS)
  • Management and Monitoring Tools
  • Message Queuing Services (formerly MSMQ)
  • Microsoft Indexing Service (formerly Index Server)
  • Microsoft Script Debugger
  • Networking Services
  • Other Network File and Print Services.

And that's it. No games. No Accessibility.  No Communications.

But fear not, there is a way.

Time to edit an INF file
Hidden in the C:\WINNT\INF directory is a file called sysoc.inf. On my Windows 2000 Professional system, this file contains the following text:

Signature = "$Windows NT$"

com=comsetup.dll,OcEntry,comnt5.inf,hide,7            ; temp fix for 64-bits
dtc=comsetup.dll,OcEntry,dtcnt5.inf,hide,7            ; temp fix for 64-bits
IndexSrv_System = setupqry.dll,IndexSrv,setupqry.inf,,7
msmq=msmqocm.dll,MsmqOcm,msmqocm.inf,,6               ; temp fix for 64-bits
fp_extensions=fp40ext.dll,FrontPage4Extensions,fp40ext.inf,,7    ; temp fix for 64-bits
iisdbg=iisdbg.dll,ScrptDbg,iisdbg.inf,,7              ; temp fix for 64-bits
imagevue=ockodak.dll,ImagingOcEntry,imagevue.inf,hide,7 ; temp fix for 64-bits

; old base components


WindowTitle=Windows 2000 Professional Setup
WindowTitle_Standalone=Windows Components Wizard

The key here is the section titled "old base components." If you remove the ",HIDE" text (or, ",hide" in some cases) from the lines in that section, those components will show up in Add/Remove Programs. You can also remove the ",hide" text from the Image Vue and Fax entries above it if you so desire. When you're done editing the file (it's wise to make a backup first just in case), save it and re-run Add/Remove Programs.

Voila! The Add/Remove Programs we always wanted
Now that's more like it. With this simple editing session, the Windows Component Wizard (again, launched from Add/Remove Programs) now allows you to uninstall the following components (Figure 2):

  • Accessibility Wizard
  • Accessories - Calculator, Character Map, Clipboard Viewer, Desktop Wallpaper, Document templates, Mouse pointers, Object Packager, Paint, Screen Savers (OpenGL and Standard), WordPad
  • Communications - Chat, HyperTerminal, Phone Dialer
  • Games - FreeCell, Minesweeper, Pinball, Solitaire
  • Imaging
  • Microsoft Fax Service

By removing the components you don't want and will never use, you can save hard drive space and tweak your system the way you want, not the way Microsoft hands it to you. And, as Martha Stewart would say, that's a good thing.

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