Windows 11 has been shrunk down to 100MB

Alfonso Maruccia

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Size Matter: Tiny11 developer NTDEV pushed their Windows tweaking skills to new limits by creating the most scaled-down version of Windows 11. Unfortunately, the OS barely works but can still multitask and partially supports Batch commands.

After creating one of the smallest functional Windows 11 modifications with the Tiny11 project, NTDEV is trying to do something different with the latest Microsoft OS. Building on an idea suggested by a fan, the developer wanted to find out how small he could take Windows 11 and still have it bootable.

The result of NTDEV's experiments is a Windows image that's less than 100 megabytes in size, a barely functioning operating system which scraps the GUI or any other graphic element to go back to its text-only roots. Microsoft retired the prompt-based paradigm with Windows 95, but Windows 11 can seemingly still be Windows even if it has been turned into a slow-moving textual shell.

NTDEV took inspiration from an old Microsoft project called "MinWin" that created a minimalistic, self-contained set of Windows Vista (and later Windows 7) components working as the "core" user interface. NTDEV Dubbed the new mod "NT-DOS." Viewers suggested that this barebone textual shell is how Windows Server should have been from the start.

The "NT-DOS" mod boots into a minimal shell and operates only through prompt commands. Despite supporting some rudimentary batch files, the stripped-down OS is still Windows and can even provide some multitasking.

NTDEV has been tweaking and modding Windows for quite some time now. The developer compressed the standard Windows 11 installation (64GB) into just 2GB with Tiny11, installed the OS in a 4GB USB flash drive (Live11), and ran it from within the frame buffer of a GeForce RTX 3050 GPU. The Winception experiment pushed nested Windows virtualization to unprecedented limits.

Unlike Tiny11, NT-DOS has no publicly available download yet. The NTDEV blog explains that its projects are selected and "done out of boredom" by a developer who knows how the innermost workings of the Windows OS family. Tiny11 and Tiny10 are the most "user-friendly" creations by NTDEV and have publicly available downloads for those interested in trying the latest Windows releases without all the "excessive fluff" of a standard installation.

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Rather like taking the engine out of a car, sticking the engine on a bench, adding a battery and giving it some fuel, and then starting it up - it 'boots' sure, but useless as a means of transport.
 
Rather like taking the engine out of a car, sticking the engine on a bench, adding a battery and giving it some fuel, and then starting it up - it 'boots' sure, but useless as a means of transport.
No exactly a true analogy. Its like taking the cylinders and strokes away and going back to a 2 stroke car - it IS transportation but only for one person with lots of time on their hands.
 
What would be nice (and perhaps more useful out in the real world) would be a Win10/11 version that would only run Word, Excel and Firefox. Of course Word and Excel would be the "small" version of Office. I suspect that this would cover at least 70% of the non-gaming users in the world. And mean that we did not need to get into any Linux or Windows command lines which only serve to confuse the productive users.
 
What would be nice (and perhaps more useful out in the real world) would be a Win10/11 version that would only run Word, Excel and Firefox. Of course Word and Excel would be the "small" version of Office. I suspect that this would cover at least 70% of the non-gaming users in the world. And mean that we did not need to get into any Linux or Windows command lines which only serve to confuse the productive users.
You also need a web browser of sorts. So much is internet based now. Web browser and office = 90% of windows users at least.
 
Medicat is not exactly small, but it has (among many other things) miniature Windows that will basically just run a browser or the like.

(I will note, Microsoft tried exactly this with the earliest Surface models, they were ARM-only and basically only ran Office and a browser. It turns out, people do want more than this. Then as a final "FU" to the customers, the final update for the ARM Windows before it was abandoned locked down the bootloader so one couldn't put a better OS on them. This finally got cracked years later (using some cracks used for the Nintendo Switch) but by then given the systems being nearly 10 years old, people got Linux running but I don't know if anyone got up the interest to put together a distro than ran well on that old an ARM with 2GB RAM.)

Anyway... OK? I'm not going to say they wasted their time; but if you want something slim, there's several mini Linux distros that'll get you a GUI and everything in 100MB. The power of open source in action (in this case, being able to customize things more to slim them down than you can with Windows where you can just strip off components and see if it still works.)

Side note: I wonder what was going on there that "dir" etc. were running quite that slow? Ahh well.
 
The point was to make "Windows Slim." It was more of a fan challenge to the developer, who had already made a functional "Windows Slim" twice, to see how much more he could remove while still keeping the core bootable.

"Building on an idea suggested by a fan, the developer wanted to find out how small he could take Windows 11 and still have it bootable."
 
The point was to make "Windows Slim." It was more of a fan challenge to the developer, who had already made a functional "Windows Slim" twice, to see how much more he could remove while still keeping the core bootable.

"Building on an idea suggested by a fan, the developer wanted to find out how small he could take Windows 11 and still have it bootable."
I must admit, it's pretty amazing even though not particularly useful. I mean, NT 4 in total is something like 200MB, but those days are long past.

1) I didn't know if it was even still possible to boot modern Windows up to a text console (since even the recovery mode console appears to start a GUI then run a command prompt with the console in it.)

2) Still interesting to see just how much can be removed and still have it boot. Given it's not really designed for it (unlike a typical Linux distro where everything is pacakged, and you can just remove a bunch of packages to strip the distro down smaller than stock.. or get the "cloud" version that is pre-stripped-to-the-bone), it's always an open question in Windows of what interdependencies there are between Windows components. Now we know!
 
So only 100MB more to go until we have Windows 11 perfection.
That seems a bit Zen somehow, like something you'd find in the old MIT AI Lab Zen Koans (historical note, although AI has recent resurgence in interest, MIT started doing AI research in 1959 and the AI Lab was formed in 1980).
Like:

The novice said: "The program size is 0, it doesn't do anything!"

The Zen master said: "Doesn't it though? It's fully optimized to run as fast as possible, and it has 0 bugs. The program has reached perfection."

(And the novice was enlightened.)
 
To those that think this is a waste of time? Do you tinker? That's all Tiny11 is, tinkering. Are they asking for money? It's like some of you are unfamiliar with "doing whatever you want." I am a huge fan of doing whatever the hell I want.
 
That seems a bit Zen somehow, like something you'd find in the old MIT AI Lab Zen Koans (historical note, although AI has recent resurgence in interest, MIT started doing AI research in 1959 and the AI Lab was formed in 1980).
Like:

The novice said: "The program size is 0, it doesn't do anything!"

The Zen master said: "Doesn't it though? It's fully optimized to run as fast as possible, and it has 0 bugs. The program has reached perfection."

(And the novice was enlightened.)
By those terms, them we already have that
 
Uhmmmm......OK
Why would anyone want to do this other than trying to get attention from a few websites to get their 15 minutes of glory.
 
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