If you didn’t already know, just about all versions of Windows come with a wide array of extra features installed which most people don’t even know about, or simply have no need to use them. From things like the Windows and internet games, to the indexing and search services and the XPS viewer. There are a number of features which most people, even power users, don’t have a great deal of use for. It does therefore, make a bit of sense to turn these Windows features off if they are never going to be used. They can always be turned on again at a later date if required.
The easiest way to do this and a way which is easily achievable in Windows Vista and 7, is by going to the Control Panel, clicking on ‘Programs and features’ and selecting ‘Turn Windows feature on or off’. Windows XP users can do the same by going to ‘Add or Remove Programs’ and ‘Add/Remove Windows Components’. This is fine and not difficult for the majority of people, but for the more technically minded users who are comfortable using more manual methods, there is quite an easy way to do the same thing via the Command Prompt. This obviously has an advantage in that these features can be added into scripts and batch operations.
Unfortunately though, this option is only available natively in Windows 7. It is called the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) command and is quite powerful for performing a number of tasks and not just enabling or disabling the Windows features. Although the Windows Features component is what the focus is here, DISM is also designed in a large part for manipulating Windows images (WIM’s) and injecting update packages as well as applying unattended functions to an image which may be covered in a later article.
It’s no surprise that the command prompt needs to be run with Administrator rights so don’t forget to right click and ‘Run as Administrator’. You will get an ‘Error: 740’ if you forget!
Type ‘Dism /online /get-features | more’ to get the full list of available features and whether they are currently enabled or disabled. A redirection similar to ‘>c:\dism_Features.txt’ can be appended to output the list to a text file.
Typing ‘Dism /online /Get-FeatureInfo /FeatureName:*selected-feature*’ will give more details about the selected feature and whether it might need a system reboot after altering. NOTE: When typing in the feature name, it is case sensitive, ‘hearts’ won’t work, ‘Hearts’ will.
Use ‘Dism /online /disable-feature /FeatureName:*selected-feature*’ to disable a selected feature. Enabling a feature again is simply changing ‘/disable-feature’ to ‘/enable-feature’ in the command. Performing several operations at once is done by appending another ‘ /FeatureName:*selected-feature*’ entry.
The Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool can be extremely powerful and used for an array of tasks on the local machine or for deploying custom made Windows 7 images. For some more technical reading about what it can do, there is a reference document over at Microsoft Technet.