At one of my projects I was asked to facilitate the Image Building process to allow the customer to create their reference images. The tooling is already configured and the customer is able to create their reference images. MDT 2013 is used to build the reference images, these are the x86 and x64 editions of Windows 8.1 Enterprise.
It is generally recommended, not only by me but by Microsoft as well (and a bunch of well-known MVPs), to use MDT 2013 for Image Building. It is also well-known that two strategies exist:
- Thick image strategy: building an image and include the application baseline (including updates)
- Thin image strategy: building an image without any baseline applications (including updates)
Most of the time, organizations want to have some baseline applications such as Microsoft Office. Just for giggles, I call it a ‘beer-belly’ image J
So far so good. However, at the particular project the customers asked me to remove some apps for users. In this case, they’re using the Google Cloud tools and wanted all Bing based apps removed from the image.
After some digging, I found a script created by The Deployment Guys which allowed me to achieve this goal. I used this script as a reference to have the defined set of built-in apps removed. The script is available at the following blog post:
The script works like a charm, I can even use it in Configuration Manager as part of my deployment.
The actual challenge for removing the built-in apps is when to remove them. To me, only two moments are available:
- During Image Building, prior to image capture
- During Operating System Deployment, after the image has been applied
After some consideration, I recommended to have the built-in apps removed during Operating System Deployment. In this scenario the amount of customization remains low. It also gives me the flexibility when the decision to have these apps removed will be revoked or modified. All I need to do then is to modify the script, not rebuilding the reference images or create applications in Configuration Manager to have them reinstalled.
In a Task Sequence it can look like this.
You can compare it to a sculptor who is hacking away the material to get the desired shape. The sculptor will have a hard time if he removed too much material…
As usual, if you try this out yourself, then please use a test environment before deploying this in a production environment.