The modern way to remove Windows 10 in-box apps without them reinstalling

We’ve all read the famous Niehaus article on how to remove Windows 10 in-box apps using a task sequence. Frustratingly, in later versions of Windows 10 (1607, 1703, 1709, and so on) the in-box apps changed – meaning more work for the IT admin maintaining the imaging process.

To complicate things further, Windows 10 1903 introduces another change: more of the default in-box apps can be removed! These include:

  • 3D Viewer
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Groove Music
  • Mail
  • Movies & TV
  • Paint 3D
  • Snip & Sketch
  • Sticky Notes
  • Voice Recorder

Previously, you were only to able uninstall:

  • My Office
  • OneNote
  • Print 3D
  • Skype
  • Tips
  • Weather

Frequently changing apps are one thing, but many of us have also seen different apps automatically install based on the type of user that logs in. These are called provisioned apps, and as mentioned they will vary by user account type (local, Microsoft account, or AD or Azure AD) and SKU (Home, Pro, Enterprise). This was also detailed in a great Niehaus article.

All of this can become very confusing (and tedious).

To simplify application management for default Windows 10 apps for your organization, we highly recommend leveraging the Microsoft Store for Business and mobile device management.

For the purpose of this explanation, we’ll be using Microsoft Intune. The first step will be to sync Intune with the Store for Business. In the Client Apps section, click Microsoft Store for Business. Under Status, you’ll see Not set up. Click Enable.

Click the Open the business store link. After signing in and accept the EULA prompt, click Manage. Under the Settings tab, click Distribute. Towards the bottom there will be an option to active the connection to the MDM. Click Activate.

Back in the Intune console, we can now see that the connection to the Store for Business is Active.

Once we have the sync functioning, we’ll need to add apps that we want to remove to our Store for Business catalog. As an example, we’ll add Xbox (which will automatically provision on Windows 10 Enterprise sku’s). Search for Xbox in the Store for Business and click on the Xbox icon.

Click on Get the app and accept the EULA prompt.

Back in the Intune console, click the Sync button on the Store for Business pane. After a few minutes we’ll see that Xbox is now listed in the Client apps section.

Just like any other application deployment using Intune, we can select the application and deploy it to a group. But now we have the option to Uninstall the app from the users it is deployed to.

This works exactly as expected. As soon as a device is managed by Intune, it begins syncing application deployments. In our case, it will uninstall all of the in-box apps. This can also be leveraged with the ESP (or enrollment status page) setting – so that all of the applications will uninstall before the user gets to the desktop.

For Windows 10 Enterprise 1809, we recommend removing the following apps:

  • 3D Viewer
  • Adobe Reader Touch
  • Excel Mobile
  • Game bar
  • Groove Music
  • Microsoft People
  • Mobile Plans
  • Movies & TV
  • Office
  • OneNote
  • PowerPoint Mobile
  • Sway
  • Word Mobile
  • Xbox

So now that Windows 10 1903 is around the corner, the process is very simple. All we have to do is find the new apps that we can remove, add them to the Store for Business, and set it to uninstall in Intune.

And this comes with one more benefit – provisioned apps for users that upgrade to 1903 will also be removed! Now we can be sure that new and upgrading devices have a consistent set of apps.

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3 Responses

  1. Adrian says:

    There’s a problem with the Microsoft Solitaire Collection app and its that it doesn’t exist in the Microsoft Business store. So, you can’t actually add it to your business and force the uninstall. I don’t know what Microsoft is thinking but this is really unacceptable. The amount of hoops one needs to jump through just to get to a clean base installation is incredible.

    Has anyone found a solution for this?

  2. Janusz says:

    Good point! You should be able to do this with PowerShell, using a script like:
    $removeSolitaire = get-appxpackage
    $fullPackageName = $removeSolitaire | where-object {$_ -like “*Solitaire*”}
    Remove-AppxPackage -package $fullPackageName.packagefullname

    If you’re interested, I can write up a blog post on how to deploy this with Intune too.

  1. January 13, 2020

    […] very first blog post on Device Advice was The modern way to remove Windows 10 in-box apps without them reinstalling. Although we recommend that method to everyone, there’s a few default apps that can’t […]

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