Unbloating Windows 7
I really hate the bloatware which is otherwise known as Windows Vista / 7.
I don’t mean the OS itself… 7 is rather nice, and it’s probably the best OS product Microsoft ever release, that is, apart for Singularity…
Anyway, while Vista was a complete waste of time prior to SP2, so I didn’t even bother to deal with it at the time, starting with SP2, and onwards with Windows 7 (which I simply refer to as Vista SP3) the OS has improved quite a bit…
However, the os “bloatness” has become even worse.
It’s really hard to justify why Windows 7 x64 needs to use some 14GB of disk space out of the box (we’re talking about Windows 7 Ultimate x64 here).
Most of the bloat comes from Microsoft deciding the make sure every possible file you’ll (n)ever want to install is located somewhere under c:\Windows\winsxs\, and for the most part in x86 + x64 versions side by side…
Anyway, I personally tend to keep a lot of trimmed VMs around, mostly for testing/debugging drivers:
- XP x86 + x64
- 2003 x86 + x64
- Vista x86 + x64
- 2008 x86 + x64
- Windows 7 x86 + x64
One can imagine that it’s a rather large pool of VM to maintain, backup etc.
I end up using tools like nLite (Windows XP) & vLite (Windows Vista) to create customized installations of Windows that I install for these purposes.
So, back to the topic of this post, Windows 7… While with Vista, we had vLite, for some reason, the developer, nuhi, decided he wants out, and the MSFN community was left without an easy tool like vLite for Windows 7.
This is where the MSFN Community shined through, and a very methodological member, named “liquid0624” went ahead and create a very nice, detailed guide + batch files that together with vLite can generate a much more slimmer version of Windows 7 for us ordinary Joe’s.
liquid0624 offer 3 versions, 7media, 7elite, and 7xtreme, all of which come in x86 + x64 versions. Naturally, there’s no .iso distribution here, just the guides of how to get it done.
I’ve personally used his guides to generate his 7media64 version of Windows 7 x64, and have been able to install it successfully on a number of machines and VMs so far.
The end result seems to be working quite well for me.
I managed to trim down the installation .iso down from 3.1GB and change (for x64) to just over 1.5GB, which enabled me to shove the whole installation on a 2GB USB DOK that I had laying around, and even install it directly off of the USB without burning a DVD (Or having one for that matter :))
How big is it installed? Well, I can’t speak yet for the x86 version, since I haven’t gotten to creating it, but the x64 version is roughly 5.5GB installed compared to the 14+GB of windows a normal x64 install will consume:
I’ve had some issues like Aero not being turned on by default, or Daemon-Tools Lite refusing to install itself until I install SPTD manually for it, and other small a minor stuff like that…
But in overall, I must say, that Windows is a lot more user friendly when it doesn’t eat up all of you disk.
This “mode” of Windows 7 installation SSDs open a new possibility of purchasing small SSDs as your system drive. Often, those drives are very expensive in their 64GB/128GB versions but are much more down to earth for the 32GB versions.
Let’s take an example:
- OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX60G 2.5″ 60GB SATA II MLC – $239
- OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX120G 2.5″ 120GB SATA II MLC – $449
- OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX250G 2.5″ 250GB SATA II MLC – $795
You can easily see how prices ramp up pretty quickly, though linearly, for the Vertex series.
Let’s take a look at another drive through, a 16GB SSD from Super-Talent:
SUPER TALENT MasterDrive OX FTM16GL25H 2.5″ 16GB SATA II MLC – $65
Now that’s more reasonable.
Let’s take it up a notch and go for 32GB (that way we’ll have more options):
- PQI DK9320GD3R000A03 2.5″ 32GB SATA II MLC – $85
- RiDATA Ultra-S Plus NSSD-S25-32-C06MPN 2.5″ 32GB SATA II MLC – $95
It’s easy to see that with an unbloated version of Windows, the world of SSD becomes much more accessible without shelling out huge amounts of $$$ for the experience as well.