Windows 11 in-box apps
All of the following was tested with the Windows 11 Preview ISO version 22454. Subject to change with Official Release. Expect this post to be updated accordingly.
One of our most popular blog posts to this day is removing in-box apps in a modern way, where we leverage the Microsoft Store for Business & Intune to remove preinstalled Windows 10 apps. Since the Microsoft Store for Business is officially being retired, it looks like we’ll need to revisit that blog for Windows 11. But – the first step to removing apps is knowing which ones are preinstalled.
When deploying Windows 10, many IT Admins used the RemoveApps PowerShell script to determine which apps were preinstalled and to subsequently remove those apps in their imaging process. The RemoveApps script uses the Get-AppxProvisionedPackage command to retrieve all of the preinstalled apps, add them to an xml, and then removes them. It also uses the Get-AppxPackage command if it’s attempting to remove apps on a running/online system (rather than an offline mounted image).
IT Admins mainly used that script to remove the Microsoft Store automatically installed apps like Duolingo or Flipboard, but also some of the built-in Windows apps that they just didn’t want users to have access to (Xbox).
Of course, Windows 11 comes with preinstalled (or in-box, included, default) apps just like Windows 10. Most of these apps are fundamental to the Windows experience like Notepad, Calculator, or Photos. But there’s a new behavior for so called Microsoft Store automatically installed apps. While some consumer apps are pinned to the Start Menu, they’re only shortcuts and don’t automatically install in any Windows 11 SKU.
Let’s take a deeper look at all of these default apps:
Windows 11 Home
This year, Windows 11 Home has a hard requirement for internet access. Meaning, no more signing in without a Microsoft Account. Windows 11 (like later versions of Windows 10) also lets you customize your experience during OOBE by selecting a profile such as Entertainment, which will promote certain apps as suggestions (in the Get Started app and throughout the OS). These customizations do not change the built-in apps in Windows 11 or in the Start Menu.
When the user does get to the desktop, we see a good amount of apps in the Pinned menu, including Spotify, Hulu, PicsArt, Twitter, Instagram, and Photoshop Express (but hey, no Candy Crush this time around).
None of these apps are actually installed. If we check the All apps list, we won’t see Hulu (or Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, PicsArt, and Photoshop Express):
Get-AppxProvisionedPackage -Online gets us the following list:
Get-AppxPackage provides significantly more apps, many of which are required for Windows to function (like CloudExperienceHost & AAD BrokerPlugin):
If the user clicks on any of the 6 pinned but not automatically installed apps in the Start menu, they will install:
Which will promptly update the Get-AppxPackage results to include:
Did you notice that Microsoft Teams is also pinned on the taskbar? Well, that’s also a app install shortcut, but with a nicer install UI. If you click on the Teams chat icon, a window will pop up with a get started menu. If you click the Continue button it will install Teams:
At which point, if we run Get-AppxPackage again it will include:
So that’s the new behavior this time around. Windows 11 Home includes 7 shortcuts to install a select few consumer apps, but does not automatically install them for you.
Windows 11 Pro with Local account
In Windows 11 Pro, you can skip the Microsoft account/network requirement by selecting Set up for work or school > Sign in Options > Domain join instead in OOBE:
After completing setup, the Start Menu for Windows 11 Pro users logged in with a local account looks exactly the same as for Windows 11 Home users:
But behind the scenes (after running Get-AppxPackage), there are two small additions to the Windows 11 Home list:
Otherwise, all of the preinstalled apps in Windows 11 Home are all also in Windows 11 Pro. The 7 “consumer” apps are still effectively suggestions rather than preinstalled apps (at time of writing, Teams only supports personal Microsoft accounts, so I’ll stick to calling it a consumer app).
Windows 11 Pro with Azure AD Joined User
What about an Autopiloted Windows 11 Pro device? Let’s kick one off:
Just in case you were wondering, no, I’m not targeting any apps during my deployment:
After OOBE & ESP, once the user gets to their desktop they see a cleaner Start menu:
But before you get too excited, yes, Xbox is still installed and visible in the All apps list. Which means that once again, all of the apps included in Windows 11 Home are also included in Windows 11 Pro. Plus our two extra Pro apps, AssignedAccessLockApp & SecureAssessmentBrowser.
The main difference is that Windows 11 Home includes 6 suggested app install shortcuts in the pinned start menu. But these apps are only installed once clicked, and not preinstalled in the OS. The shortcut to install Microsoft Teams on the taskbar is still present in Windows 11 Pro, though.
Windows 11 Enterprise with Azure AD Joined User
At this point, you’ve probably recognized the trend. But it never hurts to test and validate. What apps will be preinstalled for a Windows 11 Enterprise device that we Autopilot?
It is the exact same experience as Windows 11 Pro through Autopilot. All of the Windows 11 Home preinstalled apps are included, without the suggested consumer apps in the pinned Start Menu. And Teams is still pinned on the taskbar.
One interesting caveat that I noticed here was that MicrosoftTeams was installed without me ever clicking on it in the taskbar.
Other Windows 11 Beta builds – 22000.132
In the previously released Windows 11 Insider Preview ISO (version 22000.132), there were actually three additional apps included when running Get-AppxPackage:
Microsoft.MixedReality.Portal Microsoft.SkypeApp Microsoft.Office.OneNote
It will be unclear until the official release whether or not these apps will also be included, but one way of tracking this is following the Windows Insider Flight Hub. The 22000.132 iso is in the October 2021 Release branch of Windows 11, so they very well may be included.
Where does that leave us with Windows 11 in-box apps? Well, in short, Microsoft is not preinstalling any 3rd party consumer apps in Windows 11. No Duolingo, no Candy Crush, no games. There are shortcuts to install some apps in the Start Menu on the Home SKU, but you can right-click and remove those.
In Windows 10, there was a mix of automatically installed 3rd party Microsoft Store apps and shortcuts to install 3rd party Microsoft Store apps. While the list of shortcut app install apps may change, it seems like we won’t be seeing any auto-installs anymore, which is a welcome change. And with many IT admins managing the Start Menu/Task Bar & Azure AD Joining devices, they won’t ever need to worry about those app install shortcuts!
Happy configuring! 🎯