Hands-On Windows 94 transcript

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0:00:00 - Paul Thurrott
Coming up next on Hands on Windows, we're going to take a look at two useful utilities for battling that insurification problems we call it in Windows 11. Podcasts you love From people you trust. This is Twit. Hello everybody, and welcome back to Hands-On Windows. I'm Paul Thrott and, as you know, I've been battling what we'll say in a PG term, the insurretification of Windows 11.

Since Windows 11, right To date, I've tried to stick to methods that are included with the OS. I have a few reasons for that. Mostly, it has to do with the book that I'm writing that a lot of these podcast episodes are based on. But as we creep up to that third year anniversary for the Windows 11 announcement, it's very clear that this situation is just getting worse over time. So I'm moving into what I think of as DEF CON 4. And I'm actively investigating third-party utilities and even some command line scripts, right, the types of things that administrators or IT pros might use to help us clean up Windows, either before or during setup. So far, nothing I found is perfect, but I do have two useful utilities to discuss today that I think will be good for most Windows 11 users. You don't have to be a power user or a technical person to use these things. We're going to get there for sure, but I thought we'd start on the light side.

So the first one I've downloaded here is called OFGB, and that is an acronym. It stands for OF Go Back. It's a minimalist little interface. As you can see, its maker was a developer who, rightfully so, complaining about all the ads and baloney that's in Windows, and he decided to write a little app. The issue with this thing, by the way, is if you go to the download link and you click on the EXE, it doesn't matter which browser you're using I'm using edge here but you'll get this little windows alert. This is smart screen saying you know this is an executable and we don't know this guide. We don't know this executable, um. You can get around that, right, um, as I did earlier to get that file, but you can find out for yourself that this is safe, because he actually gives you the source code. In fact, he also gives you the instructions you need to download Visual Studio and build it for yourself. And if you look at the source code, if you can read the source code, what you'll find is that all this thing does is exactly what it should do is act as a front end to the registry and just change some registry settings related to ads in Windows 11. And that's what this little list is here. So I've left this on its default, and this default will be different for different people. Honestly, some of this has to do with the way you configured Windows when you first set it up. Some of it is just default settings in Windows.

My recommendation here is to check each one of these, and I wish I could tell you don't think about it again but the problem is the way that Windows works is there could be a future cumulative update, which is a monthly update, or maybe a feature update, which is an annual update, that will actually reset some of these settings back. So some form of automation would be good, but that depends on whether or not you're going to use this as the tool. So we'll look at that kind of thing later. For now, I would just say you might want to run this periodically, um, especially after you install, say, that big monthly update we get, uh, on patch tuesday each month, right, and see if anything has changed. So, uh, whatever you check off here, that's up to you, but I would check all of these typically and then come back and see what's changed, if anything. So far in my usage on this. I've used it across multiple PCs for a while now. I haven't seen anything reset, but I'm guessing that a feature update might. So it's something to kind of take a look at.

The next one is a much bigger tool and I'm not I'm not a big fan of those kind of windows tweaker type tools. The all-in-one tools that you know try to do everything. This one is actually a pretty good one. It's called wind toys. It's available in the microsoft store, which is actually kind of interesting. There's a little too much going on, frankly. There's a lot here. There's a lot of duplication, but the goal here is to surface options that are in Windows that are either spread out all over the place and hard to find, or in some cases are actually not served by a UI of any kind. You'd actually have to go into the registry and change it yourself. So on that note, it's very interesting.

I'm going to focus mostly on this tweaks area down here at the bottom, but first I just want to go through these real quick because if you do decide to install this application, you're probably going to want to take a look at this stuff. So in many ways, this part here duplicates the apps interface that's in the settings app in Windows 11, gives you various options related to each app that's installed on your system right. Services is something that we don't really have easy access to In these kind of legacy tools. There are various tools like this where you can look at services. There used to be a services Microsoft Management Console plugin. Now we use Task Manager if you want to look at services, but here is a more modern interface for services that most people probably won't need Performance and health very similar.

Lots of options that are worth looking at. Some duplication startup apps right, which is yet another way to configure the startup apps in Windows Fantastic, but worth looking through here. There's some interesting options in both of these areas. Like I said, I want to focus here on tweaks, and there's some really good stuff in here. You should go through all of these.

If you think about something like you know File Explorer and if you know how options work in File Explorer, you might know that some of these are in the interface and some aren't right. So if we go into File Explorer folder options or File Explorer options here so we can see right here, you know, hide extensions for known file types, right? So that's one of the items he has in here. Um, show or I'm sorry, this is it here show hidden in system files um, that's actually served by uh, it's not actually called that, but it's a, you know, hide protected operating system files. There's a couple of options in here, that kind of map to that. But then you have other options in here that aren't to my knowledge in that UI, like show recycle bin in the navigation pane. It's kind of an interesting choice, and if you turn that on, you have to close this app and come back. What you'll see that little guy goes, goes away is a recycle bin option at the bottom right, which is, you know, something we used to have in windows. It's still there in a vestigial way, I guess, so you can turn it on. So kind of cool.

But the two big areas to look at really the and the reason I'm looking at this are privacy and ads, right? Uh, privacy is going to map to a couple things. You went through a privacy dashboard of sorts when you first set up windows, so depending on what you checked or didn't check there, you might see different things here. And the big question is whether or not this goes the distance for turning off all telemetry, which I don't believe that it does. The telemetry related options if you care about this kind of thing I don't really that much, but if you do are telemetry, customer experience improvement program, sip apps, telemetry and probably error reporting. These are all off in my case, which makes me wonder that it's probably not the full meal deal, because I think these are just the default Windows settings. In other words, this is what you can do with Windows, and if you want to turn off the forced telemetry, you're going to have to a step further. I have some ideas for that for a future episode, but for now I think this is just the built-in windows stuff. Um ads, however much more interesting, and this maps to that last app we just looked at right um. In fact, these might be the exact same options, and because I didn't turn any of those off, you can see that they were still here now on my own computers I would actually turn all of those off. So that's my recommendation there. This app is worth looking at If you like to tweak things at all. I would spend time going through every bit of this, but again I'm looking to turn, I'm looking to de-insertify here, right, not do the full Windows tweak experience, but there's a lot going on so it's definitely worth looking at.

One final little thing we had a previous episode about 24H2 where I talked about Spotlight coming to the desktop. Spotlight started on the lock screen and if you've been using Windows for a while, you know you come up, you open up your computer. There's a beautiful photo there from Bing, and a lot of times I bet you thought man, it would be really nice if I could download those things, and there are services online that let you do that. But that particular feature is disabled in this computer. But if it was there, what this button would do? It would extract the spotlight images that were in the cache for the lock screen. It would probably be you know four or five of them and then you could choose which folder to save them to. So it's kind of a neat way to do that if you ever wanted to save those pictures, right. So it's a little bonus feature. It has nothing to do with tweaking or whatever, but it's kind of a just a fun thing because you know Windows Spotlight's pretty cool, all right. So there's a lot more to come.

I, like I said, I've been looking at all kinds of utilities. I found some more advanced utilities. I've found some utilities that work with Office and other apps as well as Windows. So there will be more, but I thought this was a good start. These are utilities that I feel are safe for everybody to use. There's nothing dangerous here, despite the warnings on that first one. If you want the more complete thing, I believe this is a superset of the first utility I showed, so maybe just get that. It is in the store, so there's some element of safety to that for sure. But let me know if you run into anything or if you found any other utilities you like. I'm actively looking to solve these problems, so definitely interested there and, like I said, there will be more. So I hope you found this helpful. We will be back every Thursday with a new episode of Hands-On Windows. You can find out more at twittv slash H-O-W. Thank you so much for watching and thank you especially to our club members. We appreciate you so much. I'll see you next week.

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