How-to: Windows 10 Optional Features

As if Windows wasn’t fat enough already, there’s a long list of Windows 10 Optional Features available to ‘extend’ Windows functionality. Those speech marks around ‘extend’ are there because some of the ‘optional’ features are downright essential to running other software and services.

A number of these run from ‘essential’ to ‘completely useless’ to ‘under no circumstances.’ At least you have a choice…

If you head into Settings, Optional Features, you’ll find an extensive list. Some of the ever-changing items on this list include:

Software frameworks and services:

  • .NET Framework 3.5 (includes .NET 2.0 and 3.0) and .NET Framework 4.8 Advanced Services: Support for applications using these versions of the .NET framework.
    There’s a lot of third party apps that rely on the native Windows .Net libraries.
  • Containers: Provides services and tools to create and manage Windows Server Containers.
    If you don’t know what that is, you don’t need it.
  • Device Lockdown: for machines in public settings such as kiosks and guest Internet services, this protects against drive writes, provides an unbranded boot screen and filters keyboard strokes.
  • Guarded Host: Configures ‘guarded hosts’ to run shielded virtual machines on a server.
  • Hyper-V: Provides services and management tools for running virtual machines.

Tools and apps:

  • Microsoft Paint: the in-house basic image editing program that you should probably have on hand anyway.
  • Microsoft Print to PDF: Export a file to the PDF format – for programs that don’t have a PDF export facility.
  • Microsoft WebDriver: Automated Microsoft Edge testing and hosts of the EdgeHTML platform.
  • Notepad: Basic plain text viewer and editor
  • WordPad: Slightly more than a text editor slightly less than a word processor.
  • XPS Viewer: Read, copy, print, sign, and set permissions for XPS documents.
    Nobody uses XPS format! Ever.
  • Print Management Console: Management of printers, printer drivers, and printer servers.
  • Windows TIFF IFilter: Index and search Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) files using Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
  • Windows Fax and Scan: Integrated fax and scan application.
    Ignore fax, this will do as a scanner interface if you have nothing else.
  • Math Recognizer: This is the Math Input Panel tool that converts handwritten math into digital text.
    Only if you need complex math for papers.
  • Windows Media Player: Microsoft’s old audio and video player.
    Seriously, get VLC.
  • Internet Explorer 11: Microsoft’s web browser, since replaced by Edge.

Remote access clients:

  • OpenSSH Client: Client for secure key management and access to remote machines.
  • Telnet Client: A command-line tool to remote manage another system. It’s not secure, so don’t use it unless you know what you’re doing.
  • TFTP Client: A command-line tool to transfer files using the Trivial File Transfer Protocol. Unsecure and outdated, so don’t use unless you have to.

Support tools:

  • Steps Recorder: Capture steps with screenshots to share for troubleshooting.
  • Microsoft Quick Assist: A remote desktop tool that allows Microsoft technical support to connect to your device and see your screen.

Terminal and scripting tools:

  • Windows PowerShell 2.0: Similar to Command Prompt, but more advanced and allows for task automation.
  • Windows PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment: A graphical editor for PowerShell scripts.

Lastly:

Windows Hello Face: Windows Hello is Windows 10’s biometric login
Assumes you have a camera and a face that Windows can actually recognise.

Wireless Display: Allows other devices to wirelessly project to your computer.

It’s quite a list and it changes from time to time as Microsoft adds and removes components. You may find you have some of these already enabled. Windows will resort to recommending you activate some when you try to open certain files that it has no other applications for. Some bundled applications such as Paint, WordPad and Screen Recorder have been ‘demoted’ to Optional Features, so if you can’t find them, enable them here . AJS

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