O&O Software GmbH, Berlin do a nice suite of 'free' tools to remove apps and limit telemetry in Windows 10 and 11; see:

O&O AppBuster | ShutUp 10



* Free of charge for private users, companies and educational institutions

I’ve noticed it’s better to install Windows without a connection to the internet. There will still be some packaged in software you might want to rid of, but at least not the advert apps like duolingo, candy crush and netflix. Then disable automatic installation of apps via Windows update and clean it up before allowing it to the internet.

Actually reminds me of how you absolutely should not install Windows XP with the ethernet cable plugged in back when more home computers were directly connected to the Internet. That thing would be chock full of worms within minutes, so you had to first install a software firewall while offline.

I don't get Microsoft. Come on, the game is up. Everybody knows that the bloatware is because Microsoft derives money from it. That annoying screen at installation time asking you to sign your soul and those of your loved ones? MS gets X bucks per user per year in whatever twisted revenue they can derive from your (and your loved ones) personal data. Wouldn't be best to sell a version of Windows (they offer tons of versions of Windows) I would gladly pay a hundred bucks every few years for the next iteration of Windows if it doesn't treat me like a twat.
I could be wrong, but this seems like a surefire way to make your system develop weird quirks. Just looking at the issues someone seems to have restart/shutdown take 15 minutes: is this because of debloater or just regular windows things? Who knows?
I personally like Sophia Script a lot to initially configure Windows to my liking:

It also does a lot more than „debloat“ which is a loaded term on itself because tastes are different. Someone might like having certain things included in their installation, some don’t.

Or, you know, you could just run an OS that doesn't come with all the bloatware, such as Linux.

I know, I know. Not an option for many for corporate reasons or because you need some Win-only apps that don't work with Wine. But more people should consider it.

There was also O&O ShutUp10++, which gives you pretty granular control over what you want to enable or disable:

For example, I might want to disable telemetry or certain app permissions, also disable the OneDrive integration with Explorer (because I use NextCloud or something else), but leave automatic driver updates on and allow Windows Defender to work.

It doesn't really remove software on its own, but it's a nice tool to have, and even illustrates how certain settings have changed across Windows updates (they just keep enabling telemetry with each update).

Addendum: on a slightly less related note, it feels like Windows 10 is the new Windows 7, a decent OS that people will stick with for a while in lieu of migrating over to Windows 11. In my case, it's because the redesign feels wholly unnecessary but also breaks things like my vertical taskbar (about which the developers said that they don't care because people like me are niche users[1]) and then there was the whole TPM fiasco.

Honestly, the only things keeping me on Windows at this point are gaming (around 25% of my Steam games can run on Linux) and software like MobaXTerm, for which I haven't found capable alternatives (e.g. GUI SSH/RDP/VNC/... client with integrated FTP/SFTP and the ability to split terminals, whilst being able to do simultaneous input in all of them, or disable either with a checkbox, e.g. send input to 7/9 open sessions).


There is also AME aka Ameliorated Windows 10 "Windows 10 minus the spyware plus added stability and security." -
We should have something for Windows 11. Starting from the bizarre right click option menu fixes, task bar height, taskbar clock issues, freezing start menu, everything rounded back to squared edges, etc...
I love Linux but I'm convinced we need an actual for-profit alternative in that space that is not coupled with Apple hardware.
These links have already been shared in this thread, but I'd still like to share what I did recently.

For the vast majority of debloating I use Sophia[1] and just use the defaults so it's basically fire-and-forget, which I very much like. For any additional de-bloating, like removing OneDrive integration, I use individual scripts from [2].

I've recently switched my development laptop to a Macbook Pro and it's hilarious to note the difference in installation process between the two. The MacOS experience is embracing the "it just works"-concept, no configuration required and everything is taken care off. Whereas the Windows experience is basically you get a thin shell and you need to install these 20(!) updates in order to start configuring your drivers, installing packages and "debloating".

In the end I've accepted that Windows and MacOS both have a place in this world and neither have the perfect approach to an operating system. OS's are such a personal experience.



So sad that this is necessary. Same for Smartphones apps you cant uninstall and all these unwanted settings you have to opt out instead of opting in.
Okay, now tell me why I would use this instead of installing LTSC.
> debloater

Not needed AFAIC.

I only keep windows around to run the oddball app. that doesn't run either on the web or native on Linux.

These are increasingly rarer, typically of the gaming persuasion (e.g. MS Flight Simulator).

For these, I run a windows instance inside a VM, one distinct VM for each app.

The spyware crap and all the other useless shit windows comes bundled with only gets to see me use a single app, through a different IP each time (VPN), usually once every couple of months.

Only downside is it uses up a bit of disk space, but that's dirt cheap these days.

OTOH, it's very easy to manage, every app gets installed on its own clean windows environment, and uninstalling is as easy as dumping the VM.

For my main work env. and anything privacy related, I run on a bare-bone, heavily trimmed Debian with a Cinnamon desktop.

Windows is the only OS that needs a debloater. Sometimes Windows seems like it's a Chinese OS.
Steam runs on Linux. Just saying...
That's fantastic, but (like related problems, like "blocking advertising", "making your social media platform act the way you want", "setting up your desktop/IDE just right", and "debloating Android"), you have to consider the amount of time and effort you are dedicating to fighting the enormous amount of resource devoted to making those software tools the way they are.

For one, you will ultimately not win. For another, past a certain point, it should become clear that the tool you are using is not made for your use case.

Does Windows 10 really come with various Zune software? I thought the Zune was discontinued around 5 years before 10's release.
Install Linux or FreeBSD?
Why is Windows Camera considered bloatware and meant to be removed? Is there a better free app to replace it with?

I've used this one in the past. Works pretty well.

So this is a disk formatter?

j/k of course

any opinions on this one?

This seems like the right place to ask, does anyone know a lightweight Explorer alternative? I basically just want Windows XP explorer on Windows 10. I don't need tabs or dual panes, I just want it to be as fast as it used to be.

Whenever I run XP in a VM, I'm amazed that explorer windows not only open instantly, but fully drawn! In W10 it takes half a second to even respond, and then another half second while it draws the UI elements one by one.

If I move a folder, Sublime Text detects it instantly, but the same explorer window I used to move it takes several seconds to register the change it itself made...

Just a tip - i use tinywall firewall to prevent windows from doing anything in the background. i used the built-in firewall as well but windows has multipel services that can act as proxy for other services to avoid blocking. tinywall is simpler. i only disable it for updates, WHEN I WANT TO UPDATE. it has been working for me flawlessly. also, install windows without internet connection.