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posted by martyb on Friday March 31 2017, @03:03AM   Printer-friendly
from the One-Less-Complication dept.

In an enterprise environment where I control the apps that I install for my users, what are the ramifications of removing the Windows store and all of its apps from my Windows 10 setups?


Original Submission

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New Windows 10 S Only Runs Software From Windows Store 54 comments

Microsoft has announced a new version of Windows called Windows 10 S. It only runs apps from the Windows Store, and is positioned between Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro, both of which can run third party applications. Microsoft also announced a new line of Surface laptops running the OS. The laptops have been described as competing with either Google's Chromebooks or Apple's MacBook Air, and aimed at students:

Windows 10 S is Windows 10 with its wings slightly clipped: it can only run apps from the Windows Store, disabling compatibility with the enormous breadth of Windows programs out there, which in the educational context translates to better security, consistent performance, focus for students, and improved battery life. It's cheaper and less versatile than Windows 10 Pro, which is exactly what schools are looking for (and the thing that's had them gravitating toward Google's Chrome OS in recent times).

[...] Immediately upon its introduction, Windows 10 S spans a price range from $189 to $2,199 (for the top Surface Laptop spec). So is this a straightforward and affordable solution for mass educational deployment? Or is it a super streamlined operating system for powering extremely desirable and long-lasting laptops? Yes. Microsoft's answer to both of those things is yes. It's not impossible to achieve both goals with the same software, of course, but it is difficult to position the OS in people's minds.

[...] The Windows on ARM effort is going to be rekindled by the end of this year, and Windows 10 S is the likeliest candidate to be the OS of choice for those new computers, in which case the significance of the S label will once again be complicated. Come the holidays, buying a Windows 10 S PC could mean getting either an Intel or an ARM machine, it could mean cheap and cheerful or it could be a premium portable.

Also at the Washington Post, Engadget, Laptop Mag, and Business Insider.

As well as BGR, Mashable, The Independent, PC World, Tech Radar, ZDNet, Ars Technica, Fossbytes, TechCrunch #1, TechCrunch #2, Venture Beat, and The Street.

What do you think the 'S' stands for?

Previously: Ask Soylent: Ramifications of Removing Windows Store from Enterprise Installs?
Microsoft Adds Store App-Only Restriction as Option in Windows 10


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  • (Score: 2) by SomeGuy on Friday March 31 2017, @03:47AM

    by SomeGuy (5632) on Friday March 31 2017, @03:47AM (#486915)

    There will be two ramifications: One in each leg.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Friday March 31 2017, @03:54AM (11 children)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Friday March 31 2017, @03:54AM (#486919) Journal

    You don't need the store. However, they try to make it painful to live without.

    I don't like any of the stores, and always remove them from prominent positions. I'll leave them buried among the list of all installed apps, if they behave and don't pester me with ads. I have never used an iWhatever, so am not familiar with the Apple Store. Been sticking to Android.

    I find the Android Store near useless. Jailbroke one of my older devices, and tried to fool the store. The original Store is programmed to insist on some personal data before it will let you install even free things, and the one item I refuse to give them is my credit card number. Tried a real name and address that isn't mine, and a generated credit card number, but the damn thing checks the validity. I tried to work around it by installing Google Opinions to generate some store credit so I can "buy" free things, but it wouldn't work. Kept telling me it would activate after my info had been verified. Makes it sound like a person will check the info some day. So I gave up on the Store, and I use sideloading to install stuff. Only things I can install through the store are free, ad supported apps advertised in other free, ad supported apps.

    What's really obnoxious is the way major retailers have jumped on the Store bandwagon. Amazon's Fire tablet comes with the Amazon store installed. WalMart has their own cheap tablet with their store app preinstalled. HP has its own store that'll try to sell you printer supplies. And the Windows Store? I have Windows 10 and 8, and have never used the store. I do not hesitate to remove it from the quick start bar. Do not need or want.

    • (Score: 2) by inertnet on Friday March 31 2017, @09:03AM (8 children)

      by inertnet (4071) on Friday March 31 2017, @09:03AM (#486993)

      I have never had to enter a credit card number for an Android or Apple store. Maybe that's because I live in Europe, where people are not automatically expected to have one. I think you can just skip the question (I can't remember exactly). Also there's the f-droid store for Android with useful stuff like OsmAnd~ (offline maps).

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by driverless on Friday March 31 2017, @11:58AM (3 children)

        by driverless (4770) on Friday March 31 2017, @11:58AM (#487043)

        I used a prepaid (anonymous) card. Fake address, fake name, done.

        (I'm under no illusions as to how private it really is, Google knows my home location and lots of other stuff, but at least they don't have any details I gave them directly).

        • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Friday March 31 2017, @04:02PM (2 children)

          by bzipitidoo (4388) on Friday March 31 2017, @04:02PM (#487131) Journal

          I thought of the prepaid card with bogus personal info idea too, but decided it wasn't worth the trouble. I'd done that once, for a game and also to test the idea, and it worked.

          • (Score: 2) by driverless on Saturday April 01 2017, @07:32AM (1 child)

            by driverless (4770) on Saturday April 01 2017, @07:32AM (#487511)

            What about using a prepaid Google Store card from a supermarket? Or do they require you to register a credit card?

            • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Saturday April 01 2017, @10:03AM

              by bzipitidoo (4388) on Saturday April 01 2017, @10:03AM (#487555) Journal

              You can pay cash for a Store card. And since those cards are meant to be usable as gifts, they can't very well insist you tie your name to it when you make the purchase. I haven't done it, so can't be 100% certain it'll work but can't think of any reason why it would not.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by Nerdfest on Friday March 31 2017, @01:57PM (2 children)

        by Nerdfest (80) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 31 2017, @01:57PM (#487076)

        No need for it here in Canada either. There's a "Skip" button. Just like there's a "Skip" button to setting up any Google accounts at all on the phone, yet people insist that they are required.

        • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Saturday April 01 2017, @10:41AM (1 child)

          by bzipitidoo (4388) on Saturday April 01 2017, @10:41AM (#487571) Journal

          I've often seen howtos that can't be followed because somewhere around step 5, it'll instruct you to choose a menu option or button that is not present on your particular system. Happens a lot in Windows. When you dig in to the details, you find complexity. There may be other options that determine which options the user sees. It may be simply not present on low end "Home" versions of Windows.

          Windows is especially frustrating in that you can't trust MS not to change your choices behind your back. Recall how much trouble it was to stop Windows 7 and 8 from nagging the user to upgrade to Windows 10. Just when you finally thought you had the correct "updates" blocked. MS would change the updater to unblock them and bring back the upgrade nagger. Nor can you be sure what the consequences are of disabling something. For instance, I thought I would disable this fingerprint reader service in Windows, as I don't have one and don't plan to get one. But somehow that functionality is tied to the ability to log in at all. With it stopped, logging in was much harder, taking 5 minutes to get around to displaying a password prompt, when it would enable the user to log in at all.

          So I didn't see any "Skip" option. Maybe it isn't present in older versions of Android? Or, you can Skip, but then you will be unable to purchase even free items from the Store, and when you try, it again brings up the screen demanding a credit card number.

          • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Saturday April 01 2017, @01:40PM

            by Nerdfest (80) Subscriber Badge on Saturday April 01 2017, @01:40PM (#487607)

            I'm pretty sure it's always been there, and you can purchase free items in the store. I'll add that I can only say this for sure about Nexus devices and CyanogenMod, but I think it's part of the Google Play application, so it should apply to all. Same for adding GMail accounts for phone setup (although you do need a GMail account for Play Store setup).

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by jmoschner on Friday March 31 2017, @03:00PM

        by jmoschner (3296) on Friday March 31 2017, @03:00PM (#487100)

        Here in the US, I've never needed a credit card for downloading free apps on either Google Play or the App Store. That bit was always skippable for me.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31 2017, @09:59AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31 2017, @09:59AM (#487009)

      There is a "skip" option when the prompt for payment method comes up on free downloads from the store. Both in the US and in the EU.

    • (Score: 2) by fliptop on Friday March 31 2017, @01:29PM

      by fliptop (1666) on Friday March 31 2017, @01:29PM (#487059) Journal

      So I gave up on the Store

      After installing Ubuntu Touch on my LG Nexus 4, I found the Ubuntu Store quite unobtrusive and full of cool goodies.

      --
      It's crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide.
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Zyx Abacab on Friday March 31 2017, @04:45AM (4 children)

    by Zyx Abacab (3701) on Friday March 31 2017, @04:45AM (#486934)

    I can't speak for the plain Enterprise version. The below is applicable for the LTSB version of Enterprise, build 14393.

    -----

    Having worked with Windows 10, I can confidently say it very much accepts disabling the Store, as well as removing most apps. Don't go nuking everything, though. Some apps, like the Settings app, really have been integrated into the OS.

    Disabling the Store doesn't stop Explorer from showing that annoying suggestion every single time you try to open an unknown file extension, but it does prevent said suggestion from actually opening the Store.

    Unless you set some policies (or manually set registry values), Windows will still download and install apps in the background.

    Above all, remember that any change you make is liable to be unmade by a future update! You'll have to bend over backwards to keep these tweaks from being overwritten—including your registry changes! Microsoft really hates administrators taking control of their own systems, it seems.

    -----

    Here's a list of the apps that can safely be removed.

    • Microsoft.3DBuilder
    • Microsoft.BingWeather
    • Microsoft.DesktopAppInstaller
    • Microsoft.Getstarted
    • Microsoft.Messaging
    • Microsoft.MicrosoftOfficeHub
    • Microsoft.MicrosoftSolitaireCollection
    • Microsoft.MicrosoftStickyNotes
    • Microsoft.Office.OneNote
    • Microsoft.OneConnect
    • Microsoft.People
    • Microsoft.SkypeApp
    • Microsoft.StorePurchaseApp
    • Microsoft.Windows.Photos
    • Microsoft.WindowsAlarms
    • Microsoft.WindowsCalculator
    • Microsoft.WindowsCamera
    • Microsoft.WindowsCommunicationsApps
    • Microsoft.WindowsFeedbackHub
    • Microsoft.WindowsMaps
    • Microsoft.WindowsSoundRecorder
    • Microsoft.WindowsStore
    • Microsoft.XboxApp
    • Microsoft.XboxIdentityProvider
    • Microsoft.ZuneMusic
    • Microsoft.ZuneVideo
    • Microsoft.MicrosoftSolitaireCollection
    • Microsoft.Advertising.Xaml

    You can use "Get-AppxPackage -AllUsers $PACKAGE_NAME | Remove-AppxPackage" to remove a package. Wrap it in a CMD file to save a few keystrokes!

    -----

    For those who might be interested in disabling the Store, but don't know how: here's a rough guide on how to do it.

    1. Set the following DWORD registry keys to 0x1.
      • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\WindowsStore\RemoveWindowsStore
      • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\CloudContent\DisableSoftLanding
      • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\CloudContent\DisableWindowsConsumerFeatures
      • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\CloudContent\DisableWindowsSpotlightFeatures
      • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\WindowsStore\RemoveWindowsStore
      • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\CloudContent\DisableSoftLanding
      • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\CloudContent\DisableWindowsConsumerFeatures
      • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\CloudContent\DisableWindowsSpotlightFeatures
    2. Disable the following scheduled tasks.
      • Microsoft\Windows\RetailDemo\CleanupOfflineContent
      • Microsoft\Windows\Speech\SpeechModelDownloadTask
      • Microsoft\XblGameSave\XblGameSaveTask
      • Microsoft\XblGameSave\XblGameSaveTaskLogon
    3. Disable the following services.
      • RetailDemo
      • wisvc
    4. Remove the apps listed previously.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Zyx Abacab on Friday March 31 2017, @04:51AM (1 child)

      by Zyx Abacab (3701) on Friday March 31 2017, @04:51AM (#486935)

      One more thing: you can get around updates destroying some your changes...but it's an awful hack.

      Create a CMD script that performs the steps (using REG.EXE, SCHTASKS.EXE, SC.EXE and so on); then create a Scheduled Task which runs that script on startup and shutdown.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31 2017, @06:01AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31 2017, @06:01AM (#486950)

        They can still change what the keys do/add new keys to replace them.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by nobu_the_bard on Friday March 31 2017, @02:05PM

      by nobu_the_bard (6373) on Friday March 31 2017, @02:05PM (#487082)

      Thanks for this post, I happened to be working on something to do precisely this as a coincidence. I ran these as PowerShell scripts.

      I noticed that this snippet doesn't remove the AllUsers version of the package though, only the local user's; AllUsers here seems to not do anything? (It still seems to require admin rights)

      Get-AppxPackage -AllUsers Microsoft.BingWeather | Remove-AppxPackage

      You can tell by trying this after running it, the first query will give results but the second won't.

      Get-AppxPackage -AllUsers Microsoft.BingWeather

      Get-AppxPackage Microsoft.BingWeather

    • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Friday March 31 2017, @03:59PM

      by NotSanguine (285) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 31 2017, @03:59PM (#487128) Homepage Journal

      Perhaps more helpfully for Enterprise admins, the store can be disabled (no thanks to Microsoft) via Group Policy:
      https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/9514c7a6-991b-48b0-95ab-33edfc029c52/windows-10-enterprise-disable-store-feature?forum=win10itprogeneral [microsoft.com]

      Note that you'll need to download and install templates from Windows 8.1 to make this happen, as MS "conveniently" left those out of the Windows 10 distribution -- even though the policy items are identical.

      Oh, and fuck you Microsoft!

      --
      No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by aristarchus on Friday March 31 2017, @06:32AM (4 children)

    by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 31 2017, @06:32AM (#486963) Journal

    They screwed me over pre-1995. I will never forget. Microsoft must die! And not just die, but die in ignomy! They have single-handedly set back computing by at least two, no, three, decades. They have sold their users to the advertisers and the powers that be, with telemetry and deep anal probes, to the point that Hairyfeet, of the "Hairyfeet Challenge", no longer offers the Hairyfooted challenge, but has retreated to a bunker somewhat south of Redmond to await the coming apocalypse, with his rat-dog, "Smuchkins". True story! But I have to say, Microsoft, from the depths of Hell, I spit at thee! From Hell's heart, I stab at thee!! It is all due to thee, that I can never buy coffee at Starbucks, or look at St. Elmo's fire again!

    Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.

    https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Moby-Dick

    But more appropriate:

    All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby-Dick. He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it.

    Ah, Melville! They do not make Americans like him any more! Now all American can produce is buffuons and bobbins! And Micro$ert Winders. Call me, Bob, Microsoft Bob. Do you know what happens when you totally screw up in the Microsoft organization, like what happened with Microsoft Bob? You have to marry Bill Gates! So sad, but a real motivator!

    --
    #freearistarchus!!!
    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Friday March 31 2017, @06:46AM (3 children)

      by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Friday March 31 2017, @06:46AM (#486967) Homepage
      Rant much? For those needing a TL;DR: "The real WTF in the 2010s is MS Windows!"
      --
      Life is a precious commodity. A wise investor would get rid of it when it has the highest value.
      • (Score: 3, Funny) by aristarchus on Friday March 31 2017, @06:56AM (2 children)

        by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 31 2017, @06:56AM (#486970) Journal

        No, not enough rant! Do not rile Quakers on the high-seas! Nothing good comes of it, but blood and toil, and blue screams of death!

        You, perchance, think me not serious? Avast, you newbie! We seek the White Whale! A Linux harpoon to the heart of the beast! A breaking of the Windows of its store, don't you think? Only once we have got the beast's attention will it attempt to ram us! All hands on deck! Prepare the APIs and the zero-day attacks! Wait until you see the heart of the whale! Throw, Ismael! Throw, Queeqeg! Good arms of harpooners all! This will be, in God's good grace, the Year of the Linux Desktop.

        --
        #freearistarchus!!!
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31 2017, @08:34AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31 2017, @08:34AM (#486984)

          No, not enough rant! Do not rile Quakers on the high-seas! Nothing good comes of it, but blood and toil, and blue screens of death!

          There, FTFY.

          • (Score: 3, Funny) by aristarchus on Friday March 31 2017, @08:56AM

            by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 31 2017, @08:56AM (#486991) Journal

            Never been on the high seas, have we, matey? Thanks for the effort, but it is "screams". Something like, "In Space, since it is a near vacuum, no one can hear you scream, especially if you are running Microsoft."

            Bill, open the Pod bay doors, Bill.

            I'm sorry, Dave, I caN not

            ^%$&^*(PROGRAM HAS ATTEMPTED ILLEGAL OPERATION *^(**0 There has been an undetectable error. To continue, press any key, or press any other key. To stop imminent Blue Screams of Death, hit ctl-alt-del-die simultaneously in a parallel dimension an d sto p u sing the Mi cro s of t S t o re. Y o u ha v e b e e n w a r n e d .

            My god, it's full of money!

            --
            #freearistarchus!!!
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Grishnakh on Friday March 31 2017, @03:11PM (2 children)

    by Grishnakh (2831) on Friday March 31 2017, @03:11PM (#487104)

    Microsoft obviously put the Windows Store in the Enterprise edition for a reason. Who are you to tell them they're wrong, when you're using their OS? If you completely disagree with their design decisions so much, then why are you using it?

    Either trust your vendor, or find another one.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31 2017, @04:00PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31 2017, @04:00PM (#487130)

      Windows 10 is the flexible OS. Customizations can include adding applications, modifying icons and Start layouts, configuring network settings by using device management, changing defaults in Settings, and adding brand-specific art and sounds to the OS. Windows 10 supports both the pre-existing desktop Unattend and mobile Managed Centralized Settings Framework (MCSF) customization frameworks for configuring customizations for Windows 10 devices. Make it yours today!

      • (Score: 2) by Bot on Saturday April 01 2017, @11:35AM

        by Bot (3902) on Saturday April 01 2017, @11:35AM (#487582)

        > Windows 10 is the flexible OS.

        Blocking telemetry is especially easy.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31 2017, @04:47PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31 2017, @04:47PM (#487163)

    I'm pretty sure that Calculator and the photo viewer are now Windows Store apps in Windows 10. I say this, because the Windows Store got messed up on my PC after a Windows update late last year, and I could no longer launch calculator or double-click on images until it was fixed. (The Windows 10 "anniversary update" seemed to fix whatever had gone wrong.) If you remove all Windows store apps, then your users may lose the ability to open/preview images from Windows Explorer. If your users ever have to deal with photos, or scanned documents produced internally or received from elsewhere, make sure you give them an alternative.

  • (Score: 2) by Lagg on Friday March 31 2017, @06:36PM

    by Lagg (105) on Friday March 31 2017, @06:36PM (#487229) Homepage Journal

    I use DisableWinTracking to quickly disable shit. But in a few cases I had to do some pretty ugly hax to get the apps like the store itself to quit showing back up with the log file permissions. If I recall correctly, enterprise should be the one that allows you to delete the perms for pretty much any of the apps or services without having to do the same hax. Just edit the stuff from the policy manager (I don't know where this is in 10, Computer Management?).

    In terms of ramifications. All I can say is that if Windows 10 is still usable for me while being completely gutted of the apps and intentionally breaking the telemetry services with perms. Logically it should work fine with proper ACL management since Windows crap is written to assume better behavior when it doesn't see a permission. You'll just want to avoid doing that for things that are coupled. As the search/cortana service seems to be. In the same binary. Which is probably intentional.

    --
    http://lagg.me [lagg.me] 🗿
    8DF5 7CC6 9572 2282 4BD7 CC2C 1316 E8D2 AB04 0CBD
  • (Score: 1) by higuita on Friday March 31 2017, @07:53PM (1 child)

    by higuita (2465) on Friday March 31 2017, @07:53PM (#487282)

    Ooohh my! why do people still run windows! it is a constant "up hill" fight!

    i'm so glad that the last windows i had touch was windows 8 (not even 8.1)

    The final MS plan is that all apps must be installed via store and during the next 10 years they will slowly move to that until they control your machine, so trying to avoid it now for sure it will popup again later with any random update

    i'm really glad that i left my last "windows" work and now i'm on "linux" only company... i wish you all the same luck! :)

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03 2017, @03:36AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03 2017, @03:36AM (#488089)
      Because it still kinda works and the Desktop Linux developers keep sabotaging Desktop Linux presumably to try to make it nearly as bad as Windows. I still keep hearing people grumbling about systemd, pulseaudio, KDE, GNOME etc. Even here.

      Just because your desktop UI is a bit better than Windows doesn't cut it.

      Many people seem to find OS X less annoying than KDE/Gnome.

      The Desktop Linux bunch have had so many years to build something that's less crap than what they keep shitting out.

      Seems to me the UI people with a clue have left the Microsoft Desktop UI teams (Metro wtf?). And OSS teams never really seemed to have desktop UI/design people with a clue (from the days of wobbly windows till now), most good desktop UI design decisions seemed to either be due to copying or luck.
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