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Microsoft will let you finally ditch these ancient Windows programs

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Whenever we review a laptop, we include a section outlining all the unnecessary bloatware pre-installed on the device. We include that "software" section to give you an idea of the extraneous apps taking up precious space on your hard drive. 

Some of those applications, especially those installed by the PC's manufacturer, can be easily uninstalled. We even have a straightforward guide on how to do so in Windows 10. But outmoded legacy Windows apps won't budge, no matter how hard you try to remove them. 

Fortunately, that could soon change. Microsoft is changing its policy on legacy programs by making them "optional features" that can be uninstalled via the Optional Features control panel in Windows 10 Insider Build 19551. 

Spotted by Windows Latest, the new update will make three decades-old Windows  apps -- Paint,  WordPad and Notepad -- optional. The trio will join a list of optional features that are enabled by default but can be easily removed in Settings. 

A quick search in the Optional Features settings of my XPS 15 showed several business apps along with Windows Explorer 11, which I happily uninstalled and replaced with the new Chromium Edge browser.  

When can you uninstall legacy Windows 10 apps?

Paint, WordPad and Notepad are expected to be added to the Optional Features list in the upcoming Windows 2004 (20HI) build, which is set to roll out in Spring (pending Microsoft's notorious launch issues).

When the update arrives, you will be prompted to restart your Windows 10 system in order to uninstall Notepad, WordPad or Paint. Once your system reboots, the programs will vanish for good. That said, the apps will continue to be permanently installed on Windows 10 devices until Microsoft releases the update that makes them optional. 

It's nice to see Microsoft giving users more power over what remains installed on their systems, even if uninstalling Paint, Notepad and WordPad -- which date back to 1985, 1985 and 1995, respectively -- saves less than 20MB of storage space. 

Microsoft likes to cling to legacy programs long after it releases a replacement that should make them obsolete. With that said, I plan to uninstall WordPad and Paint from my system and use Word online (or Google Docs) and Paint 3D instead.