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Upgrading to Windows 10

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I couldn't find a dedicated topic for helping @Ross Scott (and maybe others) upgrade to Windows 10, so I'm creating this one. Not sure where to post this exactly but it's related to the September 2020 videochat announcement, so I'm placing it under "Other Videos" for discoverability. But mods are free to move it somewhere else. "Subjects of Interest to Ross/Miscellaneous" might be a better place, but I don't have permission to post there.

 

This topic should probably focus primarily on Windows 10 Utilities to customize or remove default features and apps. But we can probably also make suggestions for other useful software or alternatives to incompatible and/or obsolete software Ross is using now on Windows 7.

 

Windows 10 Setup

 

If you're really paranoid and want to remove every possible Microsoft "spyware" program you can, then you could try Windows 10 AME (Ameliorated), which strips the windows install of pretty much all Microsoft features that connect to the internet and completely disables automatic updates. HOWEVER, this also has some severe side effects that might make the latest VR games glitchy or completely unplayable. Linus Tech Tips recently did a good video on all the pros and cons.

 

 

Personally, I wouldn't recommend using it though because I think all the possible system and game compatibility issues kind of defeats the whole reason you're upgrading. If I was truly that concerned about Windows I'd just use Linux for all my sensitive tasks. And it's way easier to just disable most of these features with an install script that won't break parts of the OS.

 

As suggested by @BTGBullseye already, Windows10Debloater is a popular choice and also offers a GUI interface option.  However, the scripts for that are 2 years old so it probably wont remove the most recent bloat added to Windows 10. I currently use Win10-Initial-Setup-Script which is more maintained and has been updated for the latest windows release. It doesn't offer any GUI but the script is very easy to edit. Just un/comment any feature you want removed/restored. Once the script is edited the way you like it you can run it every time you update windows and not have to touch any code or GUI. These are also all just PowerShell scripts, so you can also mix and match ones from different repos if you like and make a completely custom setup.

 

 Chris Titus also has some very useful video guide on using  these de-bloat scripts:

 

 

 

 

 

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On 9/10/2020 at 1:49 PM, RaTcHeT302 said:

WAIT WAIT WRONG REFERENCE, THAT CAME OUT WRONG

No it didn't. It came out exactly right.

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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On 9/10/2020 at 3:49 PM, RaTcHeT302 said:

WE SHOULD MAKE OUR OWN WINDOWS 10

 

WITH BLACKJACK AND HOOK-... WAIT WAIT WRONG REFERENCE, THAT CAME OUT WRONG

"In fact, forget the Windows 10!"

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I would like to suggest rentry.co/fwt. This site has a full guide to debloating 10 and updates regularly. Also, wpd.app and w10privacy are (in my opinion) much better than Windows10Debloater and the win10 setup script.

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@stinta wpd.app and w10privacy seem to be mainly focused on just privacy settings and blocking services. Deboat scripts actually disable/delete these services entirely, which actually speeds up your system. These scripts can also set privacy and many other system settings as well. So tools like WPD are less thorough and powerful. However, there is nothing preventing you from running them both and that might be the best choice for less experienced users. Just don't think of them as straight up replacements/alternatives .

 

As for rentry.co/fwt: This is a rabbit hole I would not personally go down.  Using special versions / installers of Windows will at best be useless if you ever update, since any bloat/feature removed will be restored. And at worse break parts of your system making certain software not run. That site also strait up recommends windows activators and piracy web sites, so it's not exactly on the up and up.

 

With Windows there is always a trade off between privacy & control vs compatibility & stability. And for me, a custom deboat script combined with system tweaking tools are the best balance. Anything more is just not worth all the hassle and pain it will likely create for me.

 

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On 9/25/2020 at 4:18 PM, RaTcHeT302 said:

what?

He means to say that in every version of Windows, it's been a balancing act of either Microsoft forcing updates and monitoring the system for problems, and allowing a user to ignore updates entirely making their system potentially vulnerable to malware or bugs in the OS.

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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2 minutes ago, RaTcHeT302 said:

ok thanks

Happy to help with the translation from techie to normal people speak. 🤖

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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@BTGBullseye Yeah thanks,  "compatibility & security" is also probably a better way to describe the latter.

 

I've also recently realized (guess I'm kind of slow) that the reason Ross hates forced updates is because of all the system hacks he uses. I don't muck about with Windows so I've never had an issue with any official Windows 10 update. The only time I did have an issue was when I was part of the "Windows insider" beta program and running experimental updates. That was a mistake to do on my main system.

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As already mentioned in the GUI topic; Black Box for Windows (more specifically xoblite) could actually work as a replacement for LiteStep since it also has a very similar desktop context menu that allows you to access the start menu programs and other files and folders. You can also supposedly get LiteStep to work on Windows 10 as well, but that seems to be much more involved and hacky. So I'd recommended trying xoblite first, since it's made for Windows 10 so it works out-of-the-box and is in active development.

 

Edit: So I installed LiteStep on the latest version of Windows 10 using the open source installer and it worked... sort of. The taskbar module wouldn't load because of missing dependencies but the context menu is there. However, the desktop seems a bit glitchy and it might be from that missing module. Not sure if this is fixable or just Windows 10. So BlackBox seems like the best alternative for now.

 

Edited by Isaiah (see edit history)

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On 9/25/2020 at 10:28 PM, Isaiah said:

@stinta wpd.app and w10privacy seem to be mainly focused on just privacy settings and blocking services. Deboat scripts actually disable/delete these services entirely, which actually speeds up your system. These scripts can also set privacy and many other system settings as well. So tools like WPD are less thorough and powerful. However, there is nothing preventing you from running them both and that might be the best choice for less experienced users. Just don't think of them as straight up replacements/alternatives .

 

As for rentry.co/fwt: This is a rabbit hole I would not personally go down.  Using special versions / installers of Windows will at best be useless if you ever update, since any bloat/feature removed will be restored. And at worse break parts of your system making certain software not run. That site also strait up recommends windows activators and piracy web sites, so it's not exactly on the up and up.

 

With Windows there is always a trade off between privacy & control vs compatibility & stability. And for me, a custom deboat script combined with system tweaking tools are the best balance. Anything more is just not worth all the hassle and pain it will likely create for me.

 

WPD and w10privacy uninstall and remove bloat as well. W10Privacy is very thorough and improves performance, to boot: https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=windows10-w10priv-wsl.

 

Rentry.co/fwt's up to date guide is easy to follow if you already have an ISO, and even if you think it's too complex, rentry.co/mdl-optimize-guide gotcha covered. I don't see how you can just dismiss these things just because you can't be bothered to go through with them. If you don't want crap on your PC, you'll have to go the extra mile, lad.

 

For the record, I think pirating the dogshit excuse for an os that is winblows 10 is perfectly moral. Microsoft don't deserve your money.

Edited by stinta (see edit history)

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6 hours ago, stinta said:

WPD and w10privacy uninstall and remove bloat as well. W10Privacy is very thorough and improves performance, to boot: https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=windows10-w10priv-wsl.

I said they "seem to be mainly focused on just privacy settings" because WDP only uninstalls a few store apps and is mainly used for changing group policy settings. Both of which seems redundant/useless for me because I've already uninstall more apps and disabled the related services using a debloat script. But maybe changing the group policy settings has other benefits I'm unaware of? So not a replacement for a debloat script but could complement it.

 

I hadn't actually tried w10privacy because the description made it sound like it was just a shortcut menu to certain system settings. I've taken a look at it now and it is indeed a lot more thorough than I had assumed. In fact, it seems to function like a debloat script GUI frontend. So it's probably a good up-to-date alternative to the outdated Windows10Debloater if you want a GUI. Using a script directly is just much faster and therefore my preferred method.

 

Quote

I don't see how you can just dismiss these things just because you can't be bothered to go through with them. If you don't want crap on your PC, you'll have to go the extra mile, lad.

I'm not dismissing these at all and I agree you have to put in work. I just said I would not personally use or recommend custom windows installers/versions because I think all the extra trouble doesn't actually payoff and is counterproductive. But if you really want to go down this path Windows 10 Ameliorated is probably even better than what you shared and people are of course free to do as they please. Just don't complain to me that Windows sucks because it's unstable or doesn't work right if you do. 😛

 

Quote

For the record, I think pirating the dogshit excuse for an os that is winblows 10 is perfectly moral. Microsoft don't deserve your money.

Many people, including Ross, feel the same. But rentry straight up links to software and game piracy sites that have nothing to do with Windows and posting links to that kind of content here is against the rules. You can also get Windows 10 without giving Microsoft any money and it doesn't require piracy or activators.

Edited by Isaiah (see edit history)

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On 9/29/2020 at 11:02 PM, Isaiah said:

I said they "seem to be mainly focused on just privacy settings" because WDP only uninstalls a few store apps and is mainly used for changing group policy settings. Both of which seems redundant/useless for me because I've already uninstall more apps and disabled the related services using a debloat script. But maybe changing the group policy settings has other benefits I'm unaware of? So not a replacement for a debloat script but could complement it.

 

I hadn't actually tried w10privacy because the description made it sound like it was just a shortcut menu to certain system settings. I've taken a look at it now and it is indeed a lot more thorough than I had assumed. In fact, it seems to function like a debloat script GUI frontend. So it's probably a good up-to-date alternative to the outdated Windows10Debloater if you want a GUI. Using a script directly is just much faster and therefore my preferred method.

 

I'm not dismissing these at all and I agree you have to put in work. I just said I would not personally use or recommend custom windows installers/versions because I think all the extra trouble doesn't actually payoff and is counterproductive. But if you really want to go down this path Windows 10 Ameliorated is probably even better than what you shared and people are of course free to do as they please. Just don't complain to me that Windows sucks because it's unstable or doesn't work right if you do. 😛

 

Many people, including Ross, feel the same. But rentry straight up links to software and game piracy sites that have nothing to do with Windows and posting links to that kind of content here is against the rules. You can also get Windows 10 without giving Microsoft any money and it doesn't require piracy or activators.

 

W10Privacy likely does more than the debloat script, but is far easier to customize.

 

W10 Ameliorated is a pile of crap compared to what I suggested, optimize-offline. It does the same and more but without all the tacked on garbage, and once again, easy customization. Using a mix of both is the best option as far as I'm awarw.

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On 10/14/2020 at 8:32 PM, stinta said:

W10Privacy likely does more than the debloat script, but is far easier to customize.

A script can always do more and is much more customizable than any GUI program ever could, because it gives you full control through scripting.  I think you really mean "easier to use", which is true for more novice users. However, the strange thing here is you seem to be dismissing these deboat scripts for the same exact reason you thought I was dismissing your recommendations; too much work. But If you don't want crap on your PC, you'll have to go the extra mile, lad. 😉

 

On 10/14/2020 at 8:32 PM, stinta said:

W10 Ameliorated is a pile of crap compared to what I suggested, optimize-offline. It does the same and more but without all the tacked on garbage, and once again, easy customization.

Again, this is strange because you're saying an optimize-offline (PowerShell) script is superior and offers easy customization compared to a pre-configured iso. Which is kind of the opposite argument you're making for W10Privacy vs debloat (PowerShell) script. So by your logic we could also say W10Privacy is a pile of crap compared to what I suggested. And no, the use case here doesn't affect it. Scripts are always more powerful and customizable in any situation.

 

As for Windows 10 Ameliorated (AME) having tacked on "garbage":

 

First of all, certain "garbage" like classic shell is required because removing Cortana makes the start menu nonfunctional (classic shell is recommended by optimize-offline itself).  Secondly, you can fully customize AME to contain only what you want, just like optimize-offline. However, the advantage of AME is that it's already been optimized to remove as much bloat/spyware as possible while still functioning. With optimize-offline you have to figure out all that yourself and who knows how long that will take.

 

On 10/14/2020 at 8:32 PM, stinta said:

Using a mix of both [W10Privacy and optimize-offline] is the best option as far as I'm awarw.

The funny thing here is that using optimize-offline/AME renders all other recommendations on rentry.co/fwt completely useless.

  • No need to get a special version of Windows when you're already stripping out features yourself.
  • No need to use Windows activator when Windows activation is already removed.
  • No need to run debloating app/scripts when all bloat has already been removed.

So it seems whoever created the rentry.co/fwt page doesn't exactly know what they're doing and just throwing a lot of things at the wall to see what sticks, which is really inefficient and wasteful. Again, people are free to use whatever they like, but I would recommend either use AME/optimize-offline or a debloat app/script, but not both because that's pointless.

 

Now if we're talking about running debloat apps/scripts after an update, that's different. But if you have to do that than what was even the point of using optimize-offline in the first place?

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@RaTcHeT302 Just disabling/removing Windows features/apps using a debloat script has improved system performance for me on multiple PCs, so I would not call them useless at all. Also lots of little quality of life improvements too, like disabling those useless start menu bing search results.

Edited by Isaiah (see edit history)

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Wolfgang did a complete tutorial on creating a custom Windows AME install with only the tacked on garbage you want. There may also be a way to edit the install script on the prebuilt image too.

 

The setup and maintenance process (as with any image optimizer) is very involved.  Which is something I don't personally find worth it. Again, if I was this concerned about privacy I'd just switch to Linux because it's probably going to require the same amount of work but give me much better control and support. But to each his own.

 

The official site also says DX12 games usually don't work on AME, but Wolfgang tested a handful of DX12 games in a follow up video and they all worked just fine. I suspect this is because he created his own AME image using the latest version of Windows (and therefore DX12). So it's still possible that newer games may not work unless you manually update/reinstall AME, which is a pain.

 

 

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@Isaiah how can you make sure these scripts and custom installations don't come with some kind of malware preinstalled in them?

Edited by kerdios (see edit history)

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11 hours ago, kerdios said:

how can you make sure these scripts and custom installations don't come with some kind of malware preinstalled in them?

That is of course a risk with any random thing downloaded off the internet. So you should always do some research first. However, scripts are the safest because all the code is visible, which makes hiding malicious stuff in them impossible. At least for those who can read the code. So when you see thousands of people using a open source script from a public repository on github, it's probably pretty safe.

 

But there are of course other issues you can run into as well. Again, it all comes down to how much of a trade-off you're willing to make between security/ease-of-use and privacy/control. I'm personally more than satisfied just using a debloat script and have had no issues with it so far.

Edited by Isaiah (see edit history)

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Firewalls

 

Comodo firewall is something I've used for years because I loved the ability to monitor and block programs that want to connect to the internet. But lately I've been looking for an alternative because Comodo mines data, and Windows firewall is not great.

 

simplewall seems pretty great. It's completely free, open source, very lightweight (less than 1MB!) and allows you to block many Windows services including Windows update.  I'm currently testing it out.

 

Office

 

OpenOffice is a program I've also used for many years but recently I discovered LibreOffice. It's actually a fork of the original OpenOffice.org but is more actively maintained than Apache OpenOffice fork and not owned by any large corporation. Now it does have a modern flat theme, which Ross will probably hate, but it also supports custom themes. So you can make it look however you like.

 

Edited by Isaiah (see edit history)

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12 hours ago, Isaiah said:

Firewalls

 

Comodo firewall is something I've used for years because I loved the ability to monitor and block programs that want to connect to the internet. But lately I've been looking for an alternative because Comodo mines data, and Windows firewall is not great.

 

simplewall seems pretty great. It's completely free, open source, very lightweight (less than 1MB!) and allows you to block many Windows services including Windows update.  I'm currently testing it out.

 

I'd also used Comodo for quite awhile and otherwise thought it was pretty decent, but like yourself, have been looking for an alternative. Let us know how simplewall works out for you, or if you come across any alternatives. I've been using Privatefirewall which has been alright, but it lacks the robustness (mainly feature set and ease of use for certain tasks) that Comodo seemed to have had.

 

Also, I've had my own suspicions of Comodo, but haven't really seen anything concrete (yet). Subjectively, they definitely seemed like the type (who isn't these days though), but do you have any sources about their data mining practices?

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