Windows Tip Sheet

Uninstall Your Junk

Prepare for Longhorn's arrival by cleaning out unnecessary software and services.

Here's my last column (for a while) on advance planning for Windows Longhorn Server, expected to ship in late 2007 or early 2008. One of the new features of Longhorn is an extremely modular architecture: Unlike previous versions of Windows, if you don't install a particular component, then the software bits themselves don't go on the hard drive. It's not like today's versions of Windows, where in many cases not "installing" a component still results in some of the actual software being put onto the drive. The advantage of this, of course, is that software isn't a security vulnerability if it isn't present on the disk. By not installing unnecessary software, Longhorn stays more secure.

In an upgrade to an existing Windows server, however, Longhorn will install whatever functionality exists on that server, so that the server continues functioning in more or less the same way after the upgrade as it did before. That's where you can start preparing now, by removing unnecessary software and services from your servers, so that Longhorn can install as little of itself as possible when the upgrade finally arrives.

IIS is an obvious place to start, including all of the sub-components in IIS 6. Figure out exactly what's needed and uninstall everything else. You should also scroll through the Add/Remove Windows Components section of every server to see what pieces can possibly be removed. Not using SNMP? Then remove the WMI SNMP Provider. This sort of advance preparation has an immediate benefit, too, by at least disabling (if not physically removing, in all cases) software that isn't in use, making it more difficult for any future security vulnerabilities in that software to be exploited.

About the Author

Don Jones is a multiple-year recipient of Microsoft’s MVP Award, and is an Author/Evangelist for video training company Pluralsight. Don is also a co-founder and President of PowerShell.org, a community dedicated to Microsoft’s Windows PowerShell technology. Don has more than two decades of experience in the IT industry, and specializes in the Microsoft business technology platform. He’s the author of more than 50 technology books, an accomplished IT journalist, and a sought-after speaker and instructor at conferences worldwide. Reach Don on Twitter at @concentratedDon, or on Facebook at Facebook.com/ConcentratedDon.

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