I've noticed (quite awhile back, actually) that if you install Windows 10 (or generally any Windows since Vista) on a blank disk, it will by default create a Recovery, EFI, MSR, and C drive, in that particular order from 1 to 4. I'm not sure if it applies to all versions of Windows since Vista, some may vary slightly in terms of what is created and in what order. But at least for 10, that's what I've seen. And when I say Recovery partition, it's usually less than 500MB, I'm not referring to the other type of Recovery partition that contains an install.wim, referenced on various Microsoft websites.
I've booted Windows in UEFI mode before with nothing more than an EFI and C drive partition, no Recovery or MSR. So I know that these 2 are the only ones that are absolutely critical for booting. Or in the case of legacy booting, a System Reserved and C drive partition, *OR* just a C drive marked as active, which also contains the boot files.
I also have this notion that the EFI partition should generally be not only the only FAT32 partition on the disk (preferably), but also the 1st partition as well. I've seen examples where some utilities will assume that EFI is first, and issues ensue if it isn't. Is there some kind of general rule somewhere (that applies to multiple OSes, not just Windows) that says EFI should be the first partition?
For the Recovery partition, is this *REALLY* necessary? I ask because Windows creates a folder called C:\Recovery, whose contents appear to be similar to the contents of the Recovery partition. I also tend to use outside 3rd-party tools if I need recovery functionality. So why, or is, Recovery really necessary, if Windows can just use the files at C:\Recovery for repairs, etc? As for the MSR, from what I've read it appears to be there for the purpose of converting a basic disk to a dynamic disk. It appears as unallocated/unformatted space in GParted, but is still listed as a partition in both GParted and Diskpart. Does it serve any other purposes? In my case the size is 16MB.
Another issue I've had multiple times is that when doing an in-place upgrade/Refresh/Reset, Windows will sometimes add these partitions (to the right of the C drive if I'm not mistaken), and it will go as far as to resize other partitions. This screws with my partition layout, I pre-partition in advance and like to have everything laid out exactly as I've set it. In a case this morning, I upgraded 10 Pro to Enterprise and a 2nd Recovery partition appeared on my disk. It just fucking pisses me off when Windows goes mucking around like this without my explicit consent, as I'm the owner and everything should be done with consent. It's almost enough to make me go ballistic.
Am I better off leaving Recovery and MSR alone? Or instead just let Windows setup/upgrade/Refresh/Reset create them if it wishes? Or just continue pre-partitioning as usual with only EFI and C drive, dealing with the side effects of upgrade/Refresh/Reset after the fact? If I manually create them myself and it will make use of them (preferably in GParted)? I don't really think the exact order of these partitions is particularly important, aside that they need to be placed before the C drive. Or is there a specific reasoning behind this order?
If they are safe to leave out, is there any way I can prevent an upgrade/Refresh/Reset from creating them? Perhaps I can do these things via 3rd-party tools to accomplish what I'm after?