Disable/Remove Windows Desktop Search

This is a detailed followup to this post. Follow the steps below to create a group policy that will disable the Windows Desktop Search Service, and remove the service with a vbscript. This update was pushed forced by Microsoft onto all systems/networks that use a WSUS Server.

WARNING: This post is intended for network administrators. If you are not comfortable with making major system changes, editing group policies, or writing vbscript, please stop reading here.

  1. Log in to a system that has the search service installed. This will only work if the service is installed on the system that you use to create the GPO.
  2. Download/install/open the GPMC from Microsoft
  3. Navigate to Forest – > Domains-> ‘Your domain name’
  4. Right click on your domain and select Create and Link GPO Here. Give your policy a descriptive name such as ‘Remove Windows Desktop Search’
  5. Right click your new policy and select edit
  6. Navigate to Computer Configuration -> Windows Settings -> Security Settings -> System Services
  7. Right click on the WSearch service and select properties
  8. Check the Define this policy setting and set to Disable. Click OK. After you have completed this step, your systems will disable the service on the next GPO refresh(default is every 90 minutes). You will not need to reboot for this to take effect.
    WDS Policy
  9. Navigate to Computer Configuration -> Windows Settings -> Scripts -> Startup
  10. Click Show files
  11. Disable Hide extensions for known file types (click here for instructions)
  12. Download (right click -> Save As) this vbscript file and save it into the folder that you opened in step 10.
  13. Rename the file to ‘UninstallDesktopSearch.vbs’ You can name the file whatever you like, just make sure the name ends with ‘.vbs’
  14. Return to the Startup Properties dialog that you opened in step 9.
  15. Click Add -> Browse.
  16. Select the script that we just uploaded
  17. Click Open -> Ok-> Ok
    WDS Script

Your computers will run the script on next bootup. The user will not be able to logon while this script is running. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take long to run (about 30 seconds). The script will:

  • make sure you have Windows Script host version 5.6 or higher. You will already have this if you have installed XP SP2.
  • look for the WDS ‘update’ If the update doesn’t exist, the script will do nothing and exit. If the ‘update’ does exist, it will be removed.
  • display a dialog with information about the removal process. It will complete without user interaction.

You can remove the policy that we created in step 4 after all of the systems have removed the desktop search.

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