Deprecated Deprecated Windows 11 features

Gandalf_The_Grey

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Microsoft has updated the official Windows 10 and 11 documentation, detailing three new deprecated services in its client operating system, one of which dates back to the MS-DOS era. The latest deprecated components include Computer Browser, Webclient Service, and Remote Mailslots (via @XenoPanther on X).

Computer Browser
The Computer Browser driver and service are deprecated. The browser (browser protocol and service) is a dated and insecure device location protocol. This protocol, service, and driver were first disabled by default in Windows 10 with the removal of the SMB1 service. For more information on Computer Browser, see MS-BRWS Common Internet File System.
Webclient (WebDAV) Service
The Webclient (WebDAV) service is deprecated. The Webclient service isn't started by default in Windows. For more information on WebDAV, see WebDAV - Win32 apps.
Remote Mailslots
Remote Mailslots are deprecated. The Remote Mailslot protocol is a dated, simple, unreliable, insecure IPC method first introduced in MS DOS. This protocol was first disabled by default in Windows 11 Insider Preview Build . For more information on Remote Mailslots, see About Mailslots and [MS-MAIL]: Remote Mailslot Protocol.
For those unfamiliar, feature deprecation means Microsoft is no longer actively developing a specific part of the operating system. Therefore, customers should not expect new functionality or major changes. Still, those deprecated features and services may remain in Windows for some time before Microsoft removes them. For example, in September 2023, Microsoft deprecated WordPad, but the app is still available as a stock Windows application. Timeline for Microsoft Entra accounts and VBScript are also deprecated, effective October 2023.
 
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Gandalf_The_Grey

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Microsoft will soon shut down one of its own Windows apps from the Microsoft Store that's designed to offer help for people who are using the OS. The company's Deprecated Features site has been updated today (via PhantomOcean3) to indicate the future shutdown of the Microsoft Tips app.

The new listing stated:

The Tips app is deprecated and will be removed in a future release of Windows. Content in the app will continue to be updated with information about new Windows features until the app is removed.

The listing didn't offer an explanation of why the Microsoft Tips app will be going away soon. It's possible that the company decided to pull it because it now has the new generative AI based Copilot for Windows feature that can also offer help on various Windows matters.

The Tips app was just the latest tutorial app that Microsoft created for various Windows versions over the decades. This particular version was launched in Windows 10 and was also available to download in the Microsoft Store. The app continued to be available with the upgrade to Windows 11.

The Tips app offered a quick way for people to learn more about the Windows OS with tips, tutorials, videos, and more. It got updated as new features were added to the OS.

On some Windows PCs, like Microsoft's Surface products, the Tips app could be used to learn about specific features on those devices, like information on how to use the Surface Pen or how to switch between notebook and tablet mode.

Microsoft has not yet announced exactly when the Tips app will be removed, although we suspect it could happen as early as next Tuesday, November 14. That also happened to be when Microsoft holds its monthly Patch Tuesday event for Windows and other company software.
 

Gandalf_The_Grey

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Historically, Microsoft deprecated features in each Windows version once per year, but it is now moving much more aggressively. In 2022, for example, it deprecated only two features, Windows Information Protection and Update Compliance, separately. But this year, it has deprecated 16 Windows features across several months, two this month alone.

This is interesting on many levels, but I suspect that the change has less to do with Microsoft wanting to cull legacy technologies from Windows—something Apple does a much better job of with the Mac and its other platforms—and more to do with the growing regulation of Big Tech. But whatever the reason, this change mirrors the aggressive manner in which Microsoft added new features to Windows 11 this past year as well. Where Microsoft giveth, Microsoft also taketh away.

For those unfamiliar, deprecated features are those features that Microsoft is no longer developing, either because they’ve been replaced by newer functionality or because they are no longer needed. What happens from there varies by feature, but Microsoft will typically stop installing deprecated features by default while keeping them available optionally for some time. But they will eventually be removed from Windows for good.

We have of course written about some of the recently deprecated features: Microsoft deprecated the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) in October, Computer Browser, the Webclient (WebDAV) Service, and Remote Mailslots in November, followed by the Windows Tips app a few days later and Steps Recorder and Microsoft Defender Application Guard for Office after that. And in December, it’s deprecated two more features, Windows Speech Recognition (WSR, which has been replaced by the more modern Voice access) and now Legacy Console mode.

But these are just the tip of the 2023 iceberg: Microsoft also deprecated the Microsoft Support Diagnostic Tool (MSDT) in January, Cortana and several other features in June, TLS 1.0 and 1.1 and AllJoyn in August, WordPad in September, and VBScript and Timeline (for Entra ID accounts) in October too. Most—oddly, not all—of these changes can be found on the Deprecated features for Windows client page on Microsoft Learn. But it’s a super low-profile way to reveal this kind of information, especially when it happens so often now.

Anyway, this is all healthy and good: Aside from the support issues Microsoft faces, Windows is bogged down by too many legacy features, any one of which could attack vectors for hackers. And so cleaning up Windows in this way benefits us all by making it simpler, more modern, and more secure.

I guess I’m going to have to start checking that page more often.
 

Andy Ful

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It is interesting that on the official website, Microsoft did not include the Universal Windows Platform as a depreciated feature, except for 32-bit Arm versions:

Universal Windows Platform (UWP) Applications for 32-bit ArmThis change is applicable only to devices with an Arm processor, for example Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm. If you have a PC built with a processor from Intel or AMD, this content isn't applicable. If you aren't sure which type of processor you have, check Settings > System > About.

Support for 32-bit Arm versions of applications will be removed in a future release of Windows 11. After this change, for the small number of applications affected, app features might be different and you might notice a difference in performance. For more technical details about this change, see Update app architecture from Arm32 to Arm64.
 

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It is interesting that on the official website, Microsoft did not include the Universal Windows Platform as a depreciated feature, except for 32-bit Arm versions:


Are UWP / WinUI 2 deprecated?​

No. UWP and WinUI 2 are still supported and will receive bug, reliability, and security fixes. However, most new features and capabilities, including support for the latest .NET runtimes, will only be added to the Windows App SDK / WinUI 3.
 

Gandalf_The_Grey

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Microsoft is Sunsetting its Windows Mixed Reality Platform
Microsoft is pulling the plug on Windows Mixed Reality, a platform that officially launched in 2017 with the first wave of VR headsets from Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung. Windows Mixed Reality has now joined the list of deprecated Windows features (via Windows Central), and the VR platform will be removed in future Windows releases.

Microsoft is discontinuing the Mixed Reality Portal app, which acts as the main virtual reality hub where users can customize their 3D environment with virtual desktops and launch apps and games. Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR, which allowed users to run SteamVR experiences on Windows Mixed Reality headsets is also being discontinued.

Even though Microsoft said earlier this year that it was still committed to Windows Mixed Reality and HoloLens 2 (despite recent layoffs), we haven’t seen a new Windows Mixed Reality headset for a couple of years. Consumers and hardware manufacturers quickly lost interest in the platform, and Microsoft also reportedly canceled its own HoloLens 3 headset.

According to the latest Steam hardware and software survey, Windows Mixed Reality headsets accounted for just 5.7% of VR headsets used on Steam in November 2023, with the majority of users using Oculus/Meta Quest and Valve Index headsets. Microsoft actually teamed up with Meta to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming and its Office apps to Meta Quests headsets this month.

Windows Mixed Reality launched at a time when Microsoft was very much interested in 3D. This was when Microsoft released two “Creators” updates for Windows 10 and also introduced apps like Paint 3D and Remix3D, which have now been deprecated. This is another example of Microsoft entering a new market and then throwing the towel after a couple of years, but the tech industry’s obsession with the “Metaverse” didn’t last long either. If Meta is still investing in VR these days, it will be interesting to see if Apple will be more successful with its upcoming Vision Pro headset, which is expected to launch early next year.
 

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Ink

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As of Windows 11 preview build 26020 (which has just been unleashed in the Canary channel), the WordPad and People apps have been given the elbow.

Although technically, while the People app itself is being dispensed with, that’s because its functionality is being transferred to Outlook for Windows, the new default mailbox app for Windows 11 devices (as of the start of 2024).

In short, you’ll still get the People app (contacts) in that mailbox client, but there’ll no longer be an actual People application that can be fired up separately.
 

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Microsoft deprecated the Windows Management Instrumentation Command Line tool (WMIC) in Windows Server in 2016, with Windows 10 following suit in 2021.

Although it is still available in Windows 11 as a feature-on-demand, Microsoft plans to remove it from its next-gen operating system. The company has published a new document detailing further plans regarding WMIC deprecation.

According to a post on the Tech Community forums, the software giant will turn off WMIC after January 29, 2024, starting with Windows 11 preview builds.
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