RealTime IT News

Tool Cuts Vista Down to Size

Have that "bloated" feeling? About your PC, that is.

Many users complain that Windows Vista is a memory hog that's just plain bloated compared to earlier versions of Windows and competing operating systems.

Now you can slice that porker down to size with vLite, a free package that lets you exclude the Vista components that you don't want or need but are cramping your system's style before you even install Vista.

Dino Nuhagic, a developer in Croatia, created vLite after success he had with nLite, a similar tool for making more compact installations of Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003.

He released the 1.0 version of vLite – the Vista tool -- July and just finished version 1.1 last week, Nuhagic told InternetNews.com in an e-mail interview. In total, he says he has invested about 14 months of work into its development—time he thinks was well spent.

"Every time I reinstall [Vista] I do a lot of tasks in order to prepare the environment for my own needs…disabling services, turning off features and deleting files that I don't need," Nuhagic said. "That has to be automated or I'll get frustrated. So since I like Vista, the way it looks and the upgraded security measures, [I] wrote vLite."

Among the components that can be removed before installation are Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer, Windows Firewall and Windows Mail, as well as screensavers, wallpapers and Windows Photo Gallery and Photo Viewer. Other features provided by vLink include unattended setup, and hotfix, language pack and driver integration.

However, vLink is primarily for technically savvy users who have some idea what will or won't work after removing components—not a tool or a task for the faint-hearted. Additionally, Nuhagic cautioned in a posting to his Web site on Wednesday that it is not possible to install Vista's forthcoming Service Pack 1 (SP1) on a vLink installation of Vista.

"The only way to use vLite on SP1 is to use it on the pre-integrated version, meaning you can configure the Vista DVD or ISO [installation image] which already has SP1 in it," his post said.

All the caveats notwithstanding, however, to date vLink – and its predecessor nLink – have apparently attracted a substantial following. Although he doesn't have an exact count of the number of downloads, a "suggestion box" thread on the vLink user forum has attracted more than 51,000 views.

Microsoft has its own cautionary message about vLink, however.

"Microsoft does not recommend using any tool to strip out applications from Windows Vista prior to installing it on your systems, as it may affect your ability to download future Windows Updates and Service Packs and may cause your system to become unstable," a Microsoft spokesperson told InternetNews.com in an e-mailed statement.