Windows 8 is not just about its new and fluid Modern UI; the installation time and the amount of disk space consumed by the OS has also been greatly reduced compared to its predecessor. However, this fast installation does come at the cost of less customization options; in fact, there are hardly any. You cannot choose the components to be installed or leave out the ones not required. If you’ve been looking for a way to customize your Windows 8 installation, WinReducer 8 is what you need. This freeware lets you customize Windows 8 setup from scratch via creating an ISO file from an existing installation disk or ISO. Furthermore, it lets you create an unattended Windows 8 installation ISO, so you won’t have to sit in front of your computer during the whole setup process.
WinReducer 8 is a portable application, and its downloadable ZIP archive contains both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the tool. After extracting the files, simply execute the appropriate version for your computer.
The application is currently in alpha, though everything it offers works as advertised. The main interface is minimal, and pffers ‘Open’ and ‘Change Mount Folder’ buttons. Note that if you are using an ISO file of Windows 8 setup, you’ll need to extract all the files from the ISO package into a separate folder before proceeding. You can use your favorite comressed files utility for the purpose; we recommend the free and excellent 7-zip.
Open to select the said directory, point to the disk drive with your Windows 8 installation disc or choose the folder where you extracted the ISO’s contents, select your Windows 8 edition and click Mount.
Sit back and let the application fetch all the information contained within the ISO or physical disc, after which it will let you customize the setup.
The tool will let you select any unwanted features that you want to exclude. Simply mark the the components that are not required such as Accessories, Drivers, Fonts, Languages, Themes, Services etc., under the Components Reducer tab.
The Customization tab helps you make further optimization and tweaking, for instance you can remove the Charms bar, hide desktop icons, remove files and settings from Windows Explorer, clean unneeded files and so on. Likewise, it allows you to select a default Lockscreen, Wallpaper, and custom theme.
The Unattended feature of the tool is a big time saver. It lets you specify your Windows 8 serial number, so you don’t have to enter it each time you performing the installation. In addition, you can select a custom background image for the setup program, provided the image dimensions don’t exceed 1024 x 786 pixels.
Once everything is in place, apply your changes and let the tool work its magic based on your selection.
Lastly, select ‘Save in WIM file and create a new ISO’. You may also change the destination folder, ISO name, and ISO label before hitting Save to create the ISO.
Testing of the tool was carried out on Windows 8, 64-bit edition.