Inside Windows 10: Debloated Edition


Anybody who's bought a computer in the last couple years is familiar with the amount of extra baggage that comes with Windows 10. The moment you turn on any new computer, you are greeted with this mess:

Right out of the box, Windows 10 wants to push onto you at least a dozen different apps and services that really nobody wants. Gone are the days of Minesweeper, Pinball 3D, and Spider Solitaire (though there is a way to get them back). At least those games had some originality and charm to them and they weren't out to milk you for every last penny. Now microsoft wants you to play Minecraft, Candy Crush, and an assortment of other soulless mobile games that exist only to make money off young children.

Now what if I told you that there still is version of Windows that doesn't come with an entire wall of bloatware by default?

Introducing Windows 10 LTSC:

LTSC is Microsoft's "Long-Term Servicing Channel" version of Windows 10 Enterprise. It offers little in the way of bloatware, coming with a pristine start menu containing only the essentials. That means there's no Cortana, no Candy Crush, no OneDrive, and even no Microsoft Store. What you see above is all that comes preinstalled.

Furthermore, LTSC Windows comes with extra reliability. These installations are guarneteed support for up to 10 years and recieve feature updates only once every two years. These feature updates are not mandatory and can be deferred by the user. Despite this, LTSC still recieves security updates as frequently as any other windows version so users aren't any more susceptible to malware for running it.

So why does LTSC exist? Surely Microsoft wants everybody to use their bundled apps and services right? Well as it turns out, LTSC is not really intended for the end-user. According to Microsoft's own website:

"Specialized systems—such as PCs that control medical equipment, point-of-sale systems, and ATMs—often require a longer servicing option because of their purpose. These devices typically perform a single important task and don’t need feature updates as frequently as other devices in the organization. It’s more important that these devices be kept as stable and secure as possible than up to date with user interface changes. The LTSC servicing model prevents Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB devices from receiving the usual feature updates and provides only quality updates to ensure that device security stays up to date."

As it turns out, LTSC is more billboards and ATM machines than your fancy new touchscreen laptop or gaming PC. In fact, LTSC is not even available for home use; only businesses can get their hands on it via a volume licensing agreement.

Most likely, this version of Windows exists as a response to the backlash Microsoft recieved due to their aggressive rollout of windows 10 when it was first released.

In one famous case, Chinko Project, an African anti-poaching organization, had one of their computers taken offline by a forced Windows 10 update over satellite internet. Not only did the organization have to pay every megabyte of the 6GB download, one member stated that these computers were in use by rangers fighting militarized armed poachers. Had the timing been different, Microsoft could have had blood on their hands due to their aggressive upgrading policy.

Now all this aside, it isn't entirely impossible for enthusiasts to install LTSC on their home machines if they are willing to break the law.

Note: Do not try this on your own machine. I am only putting this here for informative purposes. If you do this and Bill Gates knocks on your door one day with a squad of FBI agents and demands to see your computer, that's on you, buddy!

A developer by the colorful name of s1ave77 created script called "S-M-R-T SVF ISO CONVERTER" that allows you to download a free evaluation copy of Windows 10 LTSC and convert it into the full version using microsoft's own patch files. A different tool, called KMS38, allows you to activate LTSC illegally. I won't link to either of those tools though because that would be illegal so you'll have to take my word for it that they exist.

In conclusion, LTSC seems like a perfect edition of Windows 10, particularly for mission-critical applications like ATMs and medical equipment. It just sucks that you can't buy it directly without breaking the law. That being said, if your hatred of Windows updates and bloatware is compelling enough, there are tools out there for you to get your hands on it illegallyy. Don't do it though, ok?