Uninstalling Windows 7 Games, with Prejudice

I’m making an effort to work in the same way as my co-workers.  This means using a Windows laptop, after fifteen years of Unixish desktops.  I like to change desktop operating systems every couple of years anyway, so this isn’t a huge deal.  The new work laptop came with Windows Vista, HP Bastardized Overloaded Nagware Edition, so the company Supreme Leader got me a Windows 7 DVD and license.  I threw the disk into the laptop, kept hitting ENTER until the OS was installed, fed it my license key, and was up and running.  That almost destroyed my productivity forever.

I immediately uninstalled Windows Games.  When I’m doing something difficult, the last thing I want is the temptation to take “just five minutes” to play Freecell, Solitaire, or some other time-waster.  That five minutes can easily become two or three hours.  I don’t play computer games, either console or PC.  I uninstall the free games that came with my smart phone.  Painful experience has shown me that I can either play computer games or write books.  I don’t merely want the games uninstalled, I want them taken out into the alley, kicked to their knees, shot in the back of the head, and left for the cops to find the next day.

(Yes, other operating systems have games.  Some of them are good games.  But I’ve deliberately prevented myself from exploring the options on Unix-like operating systems, whereas at one point my job was to play Windows Minesweeper while holding a phone to my ear and listening to customers whinge.)

Unfortunately, a Windows 7 installation includes the installation media on the hard drive.  This means that reinstalling the games is just a matter of calling up the Control Panel, opening up the Windows Features menu, and clicking the “Games” checkbox.

My previous employer provided a Windows XP laptop, but this wasn’t an issue.  Once I uninstalled the games, reinstalling them required that I find a XP install disk.  I don’t own an XP install disk, and getting the disk from the desktop guru required leaving a kidney in deposit.  (For the record, I considered his policy too generous; had I been responsible for the desktops, I would perform a hemicorporectomy on anyone who asked for the disk.)

In Windows 7, permanently uninstalling the games requires a custom install.  That means putting the DVD in, formatting the hard drive, and reinstalling all of my customizations.  Call it two days of downtime, plus assorted annoyances for a month thereafter.  This is unacceptable.

Research on the Web showed me that I’m not the only one with this problem.  Even on Microsoft’s support boards you’ll find complaints (I found SimoneKF’s comments especially apropos).  But MS doesn’t provide a solution.

Of course, you can find many articles telling you hall to uninstall the built-in games, and articles telling you how to use system privilege to block the games, but nothing that said how to PERMANENTLY remove the games from the local install media.  I must have admin access to my personal machine.

I had almost decided to spend the weekend rebuilding my machine with a custom install, when I came across this post on how to exterminate the games from your system.  Any fix that starts with “open regedit.exe” gives me a queasy feeling, but it seems to work.  Of course, once I know that this fix hasn’t permanently fubar’d my machine, I must delete the registry backup to prevent myself from reinstalling in a moment of weakness.

Of course, I could just find outside support.  “Hello.  My name is Michael, and it’s been forty-six days since I last played Freecell…”

One Reply to “Uninstalling Windows 7 Games, with Prejudice”

  1. Of course, the best way to check and see if regedit hasn’t fubar’ed your system is to run a game. Solitaire is the Level 1 Diagnostic. 🙂

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