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Microsoft Removes Some of Windows 11's Cruft With App 'Stubs,' Optional Drivers

Windows 11 Running In A VM
(Image credit: Future)

Microsoft is notorious for pre-installing a bunch of apps on Windows. The most infamous example was the inclusion of Candy Crush Saga with some versions of Windows 10, but other software is typically pre-installed on the operating system, too. Now it seems the company will finally change this approach with Windows 11.

The next-generation version of Windows is set to debut on October 5. (At least on new devices; older systems will have to wait.) Microsoft VP of Enterprise Management Steve Dispensa said earlier this month that the company employed a few tricks to offer easy access to its apps without taking up undue disk space.

Dispensa explained that Windows 11 would restrict some apps, such as Sticky Notes, to mere "stubs" by default. That means the program isn't truly pre-installed on the operating system. Instead, the first time a user tries to launch the app they'll be told it "needs an update," which means it's actually being installed for the first time.

"Now doing this reduces size on disk," Dispensa said, "and you’ll also see less background update activity and download traffic. And separately, we’ve also reduced the disk consumption caused by the OS itself and the browser caches." 

Windows Latest reported that Microsoft has also decided to offer Ethernet and Wi-Fi drivers as "features on demand" rather than bundling them with the operating system. (Microsoft describes features on demand as "Windows features that can be added at any time," which the operating system can request via Windows Update.)

Dispensa also said that Microsoft took other steps to improve Windows 11's performance over its predecessor, such as updating its resource management system to better prioritize foreground tasks over background processes, among other things. All of these changes should result in Windows 11 offering better performance—and wasting less storage—than previous versions of Windows.

  • closs.sebastien
    ... Ethernet and Wi-Fi drivers as "features on demand" ....can request via Windows Update
    -> what a joke: please install the ethernet driver to connect to Internet to request the ethernet driver via Windows update
    Reply
  • KingZarkon
    That was my first thought as well. If you need network drivers how are you supposed to get to Windows Update to get them? Maybe they have the network equivalent of the generic VGA driver? Of all the drivers to make optional, it seems like the network driver is one of the worst choices.
    Reply
  • drajitsh
    I found it interesting that while the complaint is about to pre-installed "Candy crush saga" what Microsoft is curtailing is sticky notes and wifi & Ethernet drivers
    Reply
  • drtweak
    closs.sebastien said:
    ... Ethernet and Wi-Fi drivers as "features on demand" ....can request via Windows Update
    -> what a joke: please install the ethernet driver to connect to Internet to request the ethernet driver via Windows update


    I'm assuming this if for AFTER the actual install and it installs the drive for what ever ethernet or wifi that is installed during the windows installation.

    Anything that comes after I would assume would have to be downloaded after.
    Reply