This is what I would like to try if possible: Attempt installing bare system without some dependencies, by placing required files instead of installing components. Extract the files from the supposedly-required component cab files, and place these in windows\system32, or wherever they should go (find a way to read the folder structure from the CAT file: cat files are similar to inf files, that have been processed by makecat.exe) I was wondering if there is a way to read the information in the cat file, like a cat file viewer or something, or, extract a plain text file from the cat file with the component installation details. If registry entries are not important, and only the files are needed, then dll's and exe's could be placed in the PATH so they can be accessed by any application. I'm willing to go through DLL Hell rather than WinSXS hell. One thing I would like to know... if an executable contains a manifest, will the manifest be so strict that it will only work with a certain version of a dll file, or will the manifest or system policy allow the use of a different version dll if the exact version is not available? Is it possible to set up a manifest that tells the system to bypass winsxs? Is it possible to give the system less privileges than the administrator? I know it sounds like a lot of work and why would I even want to do this, but, I'm not asking you to tell me this. Don't just respond to poo-poo the idea (I see this in a lot of threads of this nature).