How To: A Clean install of Windows 7 in 2016

Maybe I’m alone here, but I still have occasion to install Windows 7 from time to time. For a while, that was no big deal; Install the OS, update, update, update and you’re good to go. Lately though, the process has become far more cumbersome. Not only does the process take ages to complete, but when you’re done its always nagging you to update to Windows 10. What follows is my process for getting this done without too much hassle.

Firstly, I’ve not created anything new here. I’ve simply found a series of tools and bit of information online that helped me along the way so I’m compiling it here for my future benefit.

Step 1 – Get the OS installed. After that, if your copy of Windows 7 doesn’t including Service Pack 1, go here and download it: Install. Reboot. Service packs include a large number of updates so it’s much faster to get the service pack installed first thing after the install than it is to use Windows Update to find it and download it.

Step 2 – There is a known issue with Windows 7 that causes the search for updates to take hours and sometimes days. You have the option of opening ‘Windows Update’ and telling it to check for updates manually but I find it far easier to tell the system to check for updates on its own and then leave the machine alone for 24 hours. It seems a bizarre step to take, and I often do waste a day waiting for the manual checking for updates to complete before seeing sense, rebooting and leaving it alone. In my experience, doing the manual check in a VM takes far longer than on physical hardware, regardless of the specs of the two machines.

Step 3 – Log in the next day and open Windows Update. It should have hundreds of updates ready for you to install. The next wrinkle I seem to run into is that clicking ‘Install Updates’ seems to sit there and think forever without actually doing anything. It just says ‘Preparing to install updates’. If this happens, use the Windows 7 shutdown option that includes installing updates. For whatever reason, this seems to work.

Step 4 – After the shutdown, power the computer back one and do a check for updates. At this point a manual check usually completes in a reasonable amount of time and you’re able to complete the updates as normal. It’s also around this time that update to Windows 10 nagging begins. Push forward though and install all of the available updates. The only thing I do at this point is ‘hide’ all of the language pack updates. Click on the top one and then shift click the bottom one to select them all. Right click any one of them and select ‘Hide Update’. They will grey out and not appear at your next check.

Step 5 – Time to clean up. Check again for updates and make sure you got them all. If not, install whatever is available. When you’re sure all updates have been installed, head over to this link (Sorry for the language…), and save the .bat file somewhere on your machine.

Be careful here. Running scripts from the web is pretty dangerous. Take a few minutes to read over it and make sure you understand what it’s doing. The script should basically be a series of wmic and wusa commands to remove updates, identified by their KB numbers. It will print out information about each update it removes as it goes along.

The batch file is a script someone else wrote that will uninstall all of the Windows 10 nagging updates, as well as the new telemetry ‘features’ they added to Windows 7, similar to the tracking features added in Windows 10. I didn’t write script and I don’t have any control over it…

Right click on the script and run it as an admin. Read what it says and then let it do it’s thing. It will pause when it’s complete. When it’s done, reboot.

Alternatively, if you don’t mind the new tracking features in Windows 7 and only want to get rid of the Windows 10 update nag, you can remove KB3035583, hide it from Windows Update and skip all of the script related procedures. Updates can be manually removed from the ‘Programs and Features’ section of Control Panel. Click ‘View Installed Updates’ on the left hand side, find the update that says ‘KB3035583’ and uninstall it. After it’s removed, reboot, check for updates and then hide the KB3035583 update in Windows Update.

Step 6 – Check for updates! Since we just uninstalled some Windows updates, there should be ‘new’ updates listed for installation. Obviously, we don’t want to install them so we’ll need to tell Windows to hide them. After the update search is complete, compare the updates listed for installation against the updates removed in the script.

Right click the script and choose ‘edit’. This will open it Notepad and you can compare the KB numbers. You’ll want to ‘hide’ any available updates that are listed in the script. Right click the update and select ‘Hide Update’. This will grey it out and it won’t show up when you search for updates next time.

Ideally, once you’re done hiding the updates correlating to the script, none should be left for installation. If some updates remain, get them installed and reboot.

Step 7 – Run the script one more time. This time, confirm that after each item it says ‘No Instance(s) Available’. This means it wasn’t able to remove the update, because it wasn’t installed. When each update shows that, you’re good to go. You won’t be nagged about Windows 10, you won’t have any of the new tracking ‘features’. You’ll (finally) be ready to set your machine up to do whatever task you needed.

Enjoy Windows 7!


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