(Credit: Microsoft)

When Microsoft launched Windows 10 in the summer of 2015, it stated a bold ambition: To get the operating system on 1 billion devices within the next few years. However, the company hasn't managed to hit that pace so far, for a few reasons. One of them is the user data collection that you still cannot disable, and the other is pre-installed apps and utilities that get featured in the Start menu.

SEE: Microsoft's Office Web Apps to offer voice dictation to help people with dyslexia

Today, Microsoft is acknowledging that certain concessions may be necessary. With the announcement of Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18262, it mentions that you can finally remove a variety of pre-installed apps featured in the Start menu, such as:

  • 3D Viewer (previously called Mixed Reality Viewer)
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Groove Music
  • Mail
  • Movies & TV
  • Paint 3D
  • Snip & Sketch
  • Sticky Notes
  • Voice Recorder

With things like calculators, calendars, and voice recorders now living primarily on our mobile devices -- and integrated with virtual assistant voice commands like, "Hey Google, what's 15 percent of 72?" -- there isn't as much of a need for these tools and utilities in desktop form.

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Of course, you can also skip the default Start menu in Windows 10 altogether. Because when Windows 8 came out without any such menu at all, a collection of third parties stepped in with their own replacements, and many are available for Windows 10 as well.

Classic Shell is probably the most popular one (it's free), but Start10 is also definitely worth a download as well. With both of these, you can choose different types of looks, evoking Windows 7, Windows 10, or something in between. You can also change the Start menu icon.

The Groove Music shortcut in Windows 10's Start menu is presumably getting added to the list because Microsoft's streaming competitor to Spotify (Android, iOS) and Pandora (Android, iOS) was actually discontinued in December 2017. In fact, it's a bit puzzling why Groove Music would still be there at all, but it's progress.

Users could previously remove Microsoft Solitaire Collection, My Office, OneNote, Print 3D, Skype, Tips, and Weather.

Windows Insider is the company's public beta testing program that gives its participants an advanced sneak peek at the future of the operating system. There are separate levels with different levels of freshness -- and potential bugs and instability. To get Preview Build 18262 right now, you need to be on the "Fast Ring" or in the "Skip Ahead" program, which are the two most advanced levels.

Takeaways

  • Microsoft will be letting Windows 10 users remove more pre-installed apps via the Start menu. This feature is currently being tested in Insider Preview Build 18262.
  • Windows Insider is the company's public beta testing program that gives users a sneak peek at the future of Windows 10, if they're willing to deal with bugs and potential instability.

Also see

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.