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How to create a custom Windows 10 ISO by removing operating system components with Win Toolkit

27 mayo, 2021

It is common to find unofficial versions of Windows, modified by users, on the Internet with diverse objectives: from altering the interface of the operating system to, more frequently, ‘lightening’ it by eliminating components of the same to optimize its operation in older hardware.

Using these ISO images to use them on our computers is usually a very unwise decision.: It is impossible to know what kind of malware and back doors we could be installing in them. And that’s not to mention that many times this ‘optimization’ ends up leading to instability and unexpected errors.

However, many sysadmins create their own custom versions of Windows for a very legitimate purpose: to be able to install the same software configuration on dozens or hundreds of computers, without forcing them to go after one by one by uninstalling or installing components.

If this is your case (or if you simply like to ‘experiment’ with your Windows installation) you may be interested in what comes next.

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Before creating ‘your own Windows’

Let’s put ourselves in the case of a user who hates Wordpad (yes, yes, the old Windows rich word processor). This fictitious user sees this software as totally superfluous and a waste of hard disk, and considers it a waste of time to have to uninstall it every time he reinstalls the operating system.

So this user has decided to create his own ‘Windows 10 Wordpadless Edition’. And for that, the first step you must take is to download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool from the Microsoft website.

Once that is done, we must start the downloaded executable, accept the license terms and indicate that we want to “Create installation media”; then we can stay with the “recommended options for this team” or customize them.

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In the next step, we will tell the tool that what we want is to download an ISO file; then we will choose the download folder and wait a few minutes for the download to finish.

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Once downloaded, we will have to open the ISO file with our favorite file compression software (WinRAR, 7Zip, etc) and unzip it into an empty folder. This will be the final appearance of the folder once all the files it contains are unzipped:

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Well, the next step will consist of open a PowerShell terminal (with administrator permissions) and, placing ourselves in the path of the ‘sources’ subfolder, type the following command:

DISM /Get-WimInfo /wimfile:install.esd

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We will see that several versions of Windows 10 are listed, each one linked to a numeric code. We will point out the one with which we want our customized Windows to be based (let’s say that in Windows 10 Pro, with code 6) and we will type the following command, careful to change ‘NUMBER’ to the real number:

DISM /export-image /sourceimagefile:install.esd /sourceindex:NUMERO /destinationimagefile:install.wim /compress:max /checkintegrity

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This command will take a long time to convert the ‘install.esd’ file contained in the ISO into a .wim file that we can alter. Once that point is finished, we can forget about PowerShell and proceed to download and unzip the following tool that we will use: Win Toolkit.

Putting the scissors in with Win Toolkit

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Once we run Win Toolkit, we must click on the ‘Advanced’ tab, and then on the ‘Component Removal’ button. A new window will open in which we must click on ‘Browse’ and then on the option ‘Browse for WIM’, after which we will select the newly created .wim file in the ‘sources’ folder.

At that moment, will start to load the list of components, separated by categories, and classified by colors: the red ones, which the program recommends not to remove from the ISO to avoid future problems in the installation or operation of Windows; the greens, whose removal is theoretically harmless; and whites, which come to be a NS / NC.

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The beginning of the (long) list of components.

It is not the objective of this article to specify what is behind each of the components of the list, although we do want to clarify several aspects:

  • You should document yourself very well on each component before doing without it (the web browser is your friend, remember).

  • The color classification is merely indicative, and is not necessarily based on official Microsoft information.

  • Even if you have successfully removed certain components on one occasion, when you try again it might fail as you would be working with another build other than W10.

  • Deleting Wordpad shouldn’t give you a problem in any case … but if you are going to delete more components, be prepared to have to resort to trial and error (If possible, testing first in a virtual machine).

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The program warns us to think it over before deleting components.

Having clarified that, we must select the component that we want to eliminate and do click on ‘Remove components’. Then, the program will show us a new pop-up window, in which we will have to click on ‘Save and Rebuild’ to generate a new WIM file with the custom components.

Once that is done, we only need to generate a new ISO file, a mission that we can carry out returning to the ‘Basic’ tab of the software.

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Later, click on ‘ISO Maker’, we specify the source folder (that of the original unzipped ISO) and the destination (where the ISO will be created) and click on ‘Create ISO’. We just have to run to record it to be able to enjoy our ‘Windows 10 Wordpadless Edition ‘.

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And ready!