What is AzureArcSysTray.exe doing on my Windows Server?

Introduction to AzureArcSysTray.exe

After installing the October 2023 updates for Windows Server 2022, I noticed a new systray icon, AzureArcSysTray.exe.

What is AzureArcSysTray.exe doing on my Windows Server?

It encourages me to launch Azure Arc Setup.

AzureArcSysTray.exe

Which I hope takes a bit more planning than following a systray link. But that’s just me, an old-school IT Pro.

Get rid of the systray entry

Delete the AzureArcSysTray.exe value from the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run registry key. Well, use GPO or another form of automation to get this done whole sales. I used Computer Configuration GPO Preferences in the lab. See the screenshot below from my home lab. It is self-explanatory.

The added benefit of a GPO is that it will deal with it again if Microsoft pushes it again in the next update cycle.

Uninstall the feature

Using DISM or Server Manager, you can uninstall the feature altogether. Do note that this requires a reboot!

Disable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName AzureArcSetup

Or

Note: This removes the systray exe and Azure Arc Setup. If someone already set it up and configured it, that is still there and needs more attention as the Azure Connect Machine Agent is up and running. Does anyone really onboard servers like this in Azure Arc?

Bad Timing

Well, this was one thing I could have done without on the day I was deploying the October 2023 updates expeditiously. Why expedited? Well, it was about 104 CVEs, of which 12 are critical Remote Code Execution issues, and 3 are ZeroDays) and a Hyper-V RCT fix that we have been waiting for (for the past five ā€“ yes, 5 – years). Needless to say, testing + rollout was swift. That AzureArcSysTray.exe delayed us, as we had to explain and mitigate it.

Is it documented?

Yes, it is, right here: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-arc/servers/onboard-windows-server. It was incomplete on Tuesday night, but they added to it quickly.

Judging from some social media, Reddit. Slack channels, not too many people were amused with all this. See https://www.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/comments/174ncwy/patch_tuesday_megathread_20231010/k4cdqsj/

https://www.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/comments/1763a7o/azure_arc/https://www.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/comments/1763a7o/azure_arc/

Conclusion

I had to explain what it was and our options to eliminate it, all while we were asked to deploy the updates as soon as possible. Finding AzureArcSysTray.exe Azure Arc Setup installed was not part of the plan late Tuesday night in the lab.

Please, Microsoft, don’t do this. We all know Azure Arc is high on all of Microsoft’s agenda. It is all the local Microsoft employees have been talking about for weeks now. We get it. But nagging us with systray icons is cheesy at best, very annoying, and, for many customers, nearly unacceptable.

4 thoughts on “What is AzureArcSysTray.exe doing on my Windows Server?

  1. It’s things like this that make me more and more want to leave my very well paid IT-job. Large tech companies are giving cr#p about their customers when it comes to things like this. MS pushes you to their cloud harder than ever. But not every environment is suitable for the cloud.
    For example, how Exchange 2019 still doesn’t support DKIM, but in MS365 it does. Like how we’ve been using MFA on premises for years now, but in somewhere fall 2024 it will be disabled and all accounts need to be in Azure to use it. But we deliver RDP services to all kind of customers, lots of whom don’t want AzureAD or Entra or whatever it’s called today. Or they have, but we don’t manage it, making it a real hassle. It’s just a big middlefinger to such companies. Or how this new way faster Teams client is an AppX, making it unavailable to enterprise or Server OS, which is actually what you want to run not to have a gamble each half year with their mayor update bringing big-brother AI to your desktop. They keep making it more difficult. As soon as on-premise is really gone, I’m as well. I get 0.0 joy from working in or with Azure/MS365.

    Sorry for the rant, but I’m utterly annoyed with MS again over this. I also noted this ARC thing in our test-line on 2022, and I disabled it right away through GPO as well. Tossers.

  2. +1 on Robert’s comment. And also, sorry for the rant but it has been a very bad week and this just pushed my temper right over the cliff.
    I am so tired of this trying to force me to the cloud. I started and build my career on Microsoft back in 1995 but these last 10 years are just more and more depressing on the Microsoft side of things. I understand that they really do not care about the companies that want to run almost everything in Co-Lo / data centers but we exist and I am grateful that I started working more and more with Linux starting 15 years ago but to be honest if your company is heavily invested in core Microsoft technology like AD and SQL with in house .NET development it is anything but easy to switch everything away from Microsoft. So to quote the wise man before me in the comment section:
    “As soon as on-premise is really gone, Iā€™m as well.”

  3. Great post and very informative as always. Totally agree about you comments on M$ pushing Arc, the systray is a cheap shot.

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