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Speed up Windows by stripping it down

Turn off functions you don't need

Windows has plenty of features that you can turn off to speed things up. Here's how to find the features you don't need.

Windows Features dialogue box

This handy box, semi-hidden in Vista and Windows 7, gives you on/off control over a multitude of features. You can control what games are available, turn on RIP Listener (which isn't nearly as macabre as it sounds), and turn off some resource-wasting services.

XP users can skip this section, entirely - this dialogue box was added with Vista.

To open the Windows Features dialogue box, click Start, type programs and features, and press Enter. Once the 'Uninstall or change a program' application comes up, click Turn Windows features on or off in the left pane.

Windows 7 users can take a quicker alternative route: Click Start, type windows features, and select Turn Windows features on or off.

One warning: This dialogue box takes a long time to load; and when you're done with it and click OK, it takes an even longer time to close. Then it usually reboots the PC. Consequently it's best to make all of these changes at one time.

Internet printing client: Vista, Windows 7
Do you ever print documents over the internet? If not, you're unlikely to miss Windows' internet printing client. To turn it off, first find and expand the Windows Features dialogue box's Print Services (or Print and Document Services) listing. Then uncheck Internet printing client.

Windows Meeting Space: Vista
If you're working on collaborative projects with other Vista users, Meeting Space is a handy program to have around. It lets you share files across a network while editing them with a remote colleague. A lot of people were disappointed with Microsoft dropped Meeting Space from Windows 7.

But, if you're not working on collaborative projects with other Vista users, Meeting Space is just a waste of resources. To disable it, simply uncheck Windows Meeting Space in the Windows Features dialogue box.

Tablet PC extras, part 1: Vista, Windows 7
In the long-ago days before the iPad, a tablet PC was a laptop with a touchscreen that could rotate 180 degrees and fold down over the keyboard. With those rather bulky and heavy tablets in mind, Windows offers some very good tools for touchscreen interfaces.

I'm actually writing this article on such a computer, and though I seldom fold it down into tablet mode, I wouldn't dream of turning off those enhancements. However, if your computer lacks a touchscreen, you have no reason to leave them on.

This is a two-step process that starts in the Windows Features dialogue box. Start by unchecking Tablet PC Optional Components (Vista) or Tablet PC Components (Windows 7).

NEXT PAGE: Services

  1. Turn off functions you don't need
  2. System properties dialogue box
  3. Windows features dialogue box
  4. Services
  5. More services
  6. The desktop

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