FYI: AFAIK LTSB is not able to activate through a retail key, it's KMS / MAK (enterprise) only. So from the perspective of a private individual ... please don't go this way. (TBH. I thought about tzhis a while ago, but the way to get yourself activated LEGALLY is brutal, because you won't get an enterprise key from MS so easily, and those who may sell one to you either charge ridiculous prices (because of enterprise ... company ... you know?) and to really set this up like it is meant to be you will need an Active Directory with a KMS server, otherwise you put your holy MAK into the LTSB client, that is a no-go (or at least a "heavily not recommended"). I, too, like to remove as much unnecessary components and stuff as possible, so we seem to have another thing in common. The downside of (forcibly) removing components is some updates will fail if they touch components you previously removed, even if only a bit of data should be written. So if you remove for example Hyper-V services and one update in a chain of hundreds touches a file from Hyper-V, the update and ALL updates which come after that will fail and you won't get the hardening of security. But when you set those stuff to "disabled" instead of removing it, the files needed to update are still there and get updated, but don't get used. This is a better way than your (and my) approaches. Regarding nLite ... there are MANY things you cannot do by nLite (or most other tools or alternatives) which are possible by an image, others are easier than using nLite. For example try to setup a useraccount with all needed programs as links on the desktop. With nLite you have to prepare all the stuff within the OS, then you need to setup some unattended.cmd to install the programs you need and put those after OOBE to run. My programs are NOT installable by silent install (or at least most of them), so that would completely brick the whole procedure. When doing images I can safely install everything I need, drivers, software, etc., then Ic ahn disable all the stuff I DON'T need (telemetry for example or XBOX support) and afterwards reboot to save the image. Even if everything breaks, as long as my image is valid, I may do a (manual?) restore and get back to my environment I am used to. Regarding other things I am not able to do: The default file types are indeed "installable" through a REG, I do that this way. But Windows 10 still doesn't use those, but keeps asking about the program for a given filetype. I add support for VLC (audio and video player) and use the Windows Photo Viewer (the old one like in Win7) for ALL image file types, except GIF (because it doesn't run the animations). If I run a "vanilla" Win10, I do not have the options to open those types from the list where you select which program opens which type at all. Only after adding them by REG, they are "available" (selectable from the list), but still not "used" by default. But they get listed and after one choice they stay as the default ones. AD integration is easy to manually do, so no big issue. But a way to automate this would be nice. Regarding your statements about multiple Win installs: Sure, this makes more sense when you administrate say 1000 computers. But at the same time it is a big project which may save you hours and hours of work later. I typically taske one day to reinstall a machine, until everything is setup, configured and ready to use. When manually doing this you always forget to do some small things, when you write a list of sthings to do before, you will not list one point and therefore need additional work afterwards. And let's be honest: Do you really like to "waste a day" for a reinstall? I bet you need one day to reinstall your machine, too, do you? So at the beginning this seems "completely over the top", a massive overkill. But when you configured everything you need, you do an image from your fresh system, before installing any "temporary" stuff like games or stuff. And from then on you have saved the exact same time you needed to create the image, every time you reinstall your computer. Even if you create an image right after the basics (installing derivers and Windows Updates, nothing more), you basically save 2 - 4 hours of work in future projects. If you feel the urge after some time that your image isn't up2date anymore, don't worry. Reinstall from your image like you did before, install what you need afterwards, and DO ANOTHER IMAGE ... time saved again. Acronis True Image is able to restore on SSDs successfully (some programs have trouble doing so regarding partition size start and stuff like this), even on some hardware RAID. So it is not only for those with dozens of computers, even you can save some time with it. And Acronis is very self-explaining, I didn't have to read hundreds of pages to know where to find what. I would recommend you to have a look at MDL forums (mydigitallife) if you are interested in tweaking Win10. They have scripts ready2run for different topics, telemetry for example or adding some options and tweaks, stuff like that. That's where I get/got my details about Windows 10. Regarding updates: Say you have 3 files from the start, A, B and C. Update 1 is a sec update and touches file C, so C is v2, others still v1. Update 2 is about another sec issue and touches file A, so A+C=v2, B is still V1 Update 3 is some functional update and touches the files A+B and adding a new one, D. So A = v3, B+C = v2 then and D = v1. Every update checks for file versions, because updates typically either a) replace files completely or b) add code at a given breakpoint (if file version is v3 add "hello world" to the second line). So there has to gbe some dependancy checking in place. What should Update 1 do if C is v6 at the time the update is applied? What if isn't there anymore? There may be a reason why it isn't there anymore. A program (the update) now has to decide how to proceed. Apply update or fail? How would you proceed if you were Update 1? What if you were Update 3? You have to make sure everything fits, otherwise you could break a system, and that MAY be the critical SAP server providing connection to half of Europe. Therefore if you can eliminate the logical requirements ("should I proceed or fail?") and skip the unnecessary versions by adding the latest versions (A = v3, B+C = v2 and D = v1) right away into the OS base image file (install.wim), you save space and time. Please note in my example C is updated from Update 1 (latest updates only) and A, B and D are updated from Update3, which itself needs Update 2 to be installed. So you take files from "different updates" and put them together like in 1 update, but right into the OS installer, and then remove the old and therefore unnecessary versions so only one is left, the most current one. Therefore I recommend adding updates to the install.wim. It has no downsides known to me, except 1 you may probably never encounter anyway: I worked at some education center before (back in 2011) where people got educated through some kind of selfbuilt videoconference system (2 monitors on 1 PC w/ headset and cam). They were AMD computers with old dual cores in it (those ooooooold Athlon 6000+!) together with some Realtek LAN chip and some extender to give people USB slots IN their desks they are sitting at. Problem was: As soon as the extender was plugged in, the computer hung at shutdown. It was based on images, too. We found out the issue was the Realtek LAN chip (no joke!). If we install the original Realtek ones (WHQL certified!), our Win7 x64 hang EVERY TIME at shutdown. But as soon as we changed this to the default one with which Windows came (Realtek, too, and WHQL, but somehow different) the system shut down every time completely, even with extender connected. We tried ALL versions we could download at the time, only the MS one had no issue. So if you set this into your install.wim, you probably get a bad experience and a time of headaches to find the issue. So I would recommend the creation of an image with the state "Windows installed+Windows Updates installed until today+drivers installed" and save it then. It will really save you (life-)time, energy and mood. I tend to get very aggressive when reinstalling my rig completely: "The frack is this thing, it wasn't there before? What the hell is this crap of an error message? Is this fucking horrible life-juice-quencher finished with its bloody Windows install? NOOOOO, it's UPDATE TIME! frack me, frack all, frack everything, but frack THIS THING IN PARTICULAR!" ... That's more or less how it starts ... it gets "better" after a few minutes .... I left most of the "higher level insults" out of there. Some German swear words add to this, too. So now it's only "Oh frack, another reinstall? Naaa, whatever ..." *pushing reboot button* *going for a 30 min. walk with my dog* *coming back* "Oh, the Windows background ... finished already? Yeah, like I never left!" ... and that's it. Feels much better, you know? EDIT: Either edit HOSTS file to reroute updates completely to 0.0.0.0 (or at least 127.0.0.1, but that causes "traffic") or you can "hide" specific updates: https://www.digitalcitizen.life/how-block-unwanted-windows-driver-updates-installing-windows-10 A firewall (software or hardware) may be used to control when you access Windows Update. If it's not reachable, nothing can be downloaded, right? Or you could upgrade to PRO.