Windows 11 says goodbye to pre-installed apps... almost

Windows 11 logo in front of the new wallpaper
(Image credit: Microsoft)

If you're anything like us, you've shaken your head in disbelief looking at all the pre-installed apps on Windows 10. Microsoft seem to have realized this, too, and is reportedly doing away with pre-installed apps on Windows 11... for the most part.

Reported by Windows Latest (opens in new tab), pre-installed apps on Windows 11, which launches on October 5, 2021, won't exist in the same intrusive capacity as they did on the prior operating system. Instead, apps that used to be pre-installed on Windows 10 will now, initially, only show up as shortcuts. Clicking these shortcuts will then prompt the user to install the app.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to MSPoweruser that this design decision "reduces size on disk, and you'll also see less background update activity and download traffic."

In addition to changing how pre-installed apps are actually installed by default, Windows 11 is also making Wi-Fi and Ethernet drivers features on demand, which should further reduce storage usage by default.

Analysis: Less bloat on Windows 11? Sign us up

By changing how pre-installed apps exist on your system by default, Windows 11 is taking a huge step towards performance improvement over its predecessor. Having less bloat on the system means your OS won't throttle under the weight of constant updates for apps you never use.

On the other hand, several actually useful pre-installed apps like To Do or Xbox Game Bar will likely have to be installed manually. It's a bit of a double-edged sword in that sense, but at least such apps are still downloadable via the Start menu, just a couple of clicks away.

Ultimately, this is a net positive for users looking to upgrade to Windows 11 in October. The change to pre-installed apps helps the OS to run much smoother, and is sure to be a boon for users unable to (or without the technical know-how) manually improve the performance of their operating system, such as by migrating it to a faster SSD.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Writer

Rhys is Hardware Writer for TechRadar Gaming, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Rhys has a strong love for all things gaming, including everything from triple A blockbusters to hidden indie gems. For Rhys, the highlights of the work are being able to test out top-notch gaming hardware, from controllers and headsets to VR and beyond. When he's not on the clock, you'll usually find him logged into Final Fantasy 14 and Sea of Thieves. Or taking massive Ls in Mario Party Superstars.