Monday, June 04, 2007
Irresponsibly Ripping Apart Windows
There are some people out there apparently so smart they think they can do things better than the programmers at Microsoft. These hacks irresponsibly recommend ripping out components of Windows to make 'lighter' versions with absolutely no clue as to the consequences of their actions. They mislead others and cause untold amounts of headaches for support staff of PC and software vendors.
I've been dealing with end user support for a very long time and have consistently found the most obscure problems to be user induced. Whether the end user mindlessly overclocked, applied useless mythical 'tweaks' or the current trend of irresponsibly and dangerously ripping out core components of their operating system you can be sure of who will be blamed first when there is a problem, Microsoft.
Microsoft programmers believe it or not include the files they do for a reason. The components they recognize as safe to remove can be done so through the add or remove programs option in the control panel. The rest should not be removed unless you can verify with the programmer who added it that it is safe to remove on your system. These 'hacks' who recommend these 'light' builds or ripping out core components have done no such thing. They have no idea what applications, components or features of Windows require which files let alone third parties. They have no idea of the full consequences of removing component 'X'. If they claim they do they are either fools or lying. When you install an application, game or device you need to realize that they were tested only on standard installs and may require files to be present that you are completely unaware of. This can lead to the application, game or device to not work, generate an error or crash. Removing a critical system file or component can lead to system instability, errors or even worse, data loss.
Window is designed to be everything to everybody and thus includes various components and applications you may not use. This inevitably leads to some perceived 'bloat' but the problem is this can only properly be rectified by Microsoft programmers not the online community of hacks. What may seem as 'bloat' to one person is a necessary application, compatibility fix or driver to another. Many files are present for backwards compatibility with poorly written applications that Microsoft has gone out of their way to ensure works, short of rewriting the old application themselves. In the end Microsoft has learned that it is better for something to work out of the box than deal with the support issues of it not.
How many files or registry entries you have or Window's Services running does not effect your general system performance. These Myths are widely misunderstood by the ignorant hacks who spread them:
"Deleting files does not improve application, gaming or system performance. All it does is increase your available disk space. While AntiVirus and AntiSpyware scan times and general disk search times can be reduced, these are not what people associate with improved performance."
"A few hundred kilobytes of unused keys and values causes no noticeable performance impact on system operation. Even if the registry was massively bloated there would be little impact on the performance of anything other than exhaustive searches."
"Disabling other unnecessary services in general has only one affect on performance and that is reduced Windows XP boot times."
Trail and Error
This is used by people who have little knowledge in the problem area and are essentially guessing. In the computer field this is a poor substitute for Researching and an absolute waste of time. Everything in your computer from the hardware to software has already been created by someone and there is someone who knows how it works. With Windows this is Microsoft. Trial and error makes no attempt to discover why a solution works, merely that it is a solution (sometimes not) but not all solutions, and certainly not the best solution. This is what makes using Trial and Error useless with computer software. Hacks who rely on this method have a poor understanding of computers, logical devices in general and lack proper researching skills. I have been doing this for well over 15 years and extensively research and learn how something works before assuming how it works or irresponsibly guessing. I have read many books, attended many seminars, courses and know where to reference the information I need. "Trial and Error" Techs, Administrators and End Users are worthless and have no business giving advice to anyone else. These hacks are the equivalent of a car mechanic who rips out the "useless" radiator to save on "weight". Hey but the car still seems to run!
nLite is a powerful free program that can be useful for service pack integration, unattended setups and driver integration. I have used it extensively and it works fine for these tasks. However this program also allows unknowledgeable users to carelessly rip out components of Windows, all the while thinking they are improving performance by reducing the install size without any fully documented, reproduceable and verifiable proof of any performance gains. Least of all anyway to guarantee system stability, application compatibility and error free operation due to their actions. The latter is impossible by all but the Microsoft programmers who put the files there to begin with.
Until Microsoft fully documents each and every reason for being, interaction, association and dependency of each file and registry value for Windows in depth, ripping apart Windows will continue to be a fools errand. One that no sane person should ever attempt.