Watching the Windows Insider build releases, and associated blog posts, sometimes provides interesting insight about things to come. Recently Microsoft released Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 19551 with a few "general changes, improvements and fixes for PC," and that was more or less it - as described by the low key blog post. However, it has since been spotted that, in a move that will be welcomed by many, this update makes various staple Windows apps optional.
Why it matters: There are some programs that have been part of Windows for decades, such as Notepad, Paint, and WordPad. While useful for quick tasks, they can’t be removed from the operating system, but that’s going to change in an upcoming update.
None of the apps are set to disappear from Windows 10, but users will have the choice to not install them assuming they remain optional features when 20H1 ships. While the decision may come as a surprise to long-time Windows users, just take a step back and consider when you last used each of the three apps being made optional.
Notepad and Paint have been auto-installed by Windows since 1985 (Windows 1.0) and WordPad since 1995 (Windows 95). Windows didn't allow simple user uninstalls of these venerable programs until Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 19551. We remember having to jump through a few hoops, when we wished to replace Notepad with a more functional (but still light and compact) text editor, a few years ago.
Removing Notepad (627KB), Paint (6.58MB) and WordPad (6.24MB) from your Windows PC won't be freeing up lots of space - especially if you have banished them to put an alternative in place. However, PC users generally welcome more configuration options and the potential removal of non-core apps / functions to streamline the OS. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come and many more apps bundled into the OS will become 'optional features' as Windows 10 development progresses.
Although Microsoft is making the programs optional, it’s not a sign that they’ll be removed completely in a future update. Back in 2017, Microsoft said it would drop Paint from Windows, moving it to the Windows Store as a free download, but the company last year announced that the program would remain part of Windows 10 “for now.”