Open Letter To PC Makers: Ditch The Bloatware, Now!

Open Letter To PC Makers: Ditch The Bloatware, Now!

This is the final straw. This is the line in the sand. This is the year that companies have to wise up and realize that they're destroying the experience of the very machines that they try to market so vigorously over their competitor's products. We're talking about bloatware, and it's an issue that we simply cannot remain silent on any longer. It's a very, very real problem, and it has been for years. But we always assumed that things would improve as the "fad" faded. Sadly, we assumed wrong. The fad hasn't faded, and dare we say, things have become even less bearable over time.

We should preface this by saying that, as critics of notebooks and desktops, we are faced with this issue far more frequently than the average consumer. You could reasonably assume that normal consumers will only buy a new computer once every couple of years, if that. So they're only faced with the sour taste of bloatware once in a long while. But as reviewers, we see bloatware day in, and day out. And we've reached the breaking point.


This continually pops up every so often until you reboot. You cannot easily just "exit."

If you aren't familiar with this term, "bloatware" generally refers to any additional software installed on a machine that is not a native part of the operating system. For example, iLife is an integrated part of OS X, so it wouldn't be considered bloatware. The same goes for Microsoft Paint and the Scanner / Camera Wizard within Windows. These programs were designed by the host company, and they are written into the fabric of the OS. Both Microsoft and Apple were able to internally test the performance of these applications before releasing them, ensuring that their inclusion did not negatively impact the overall performance of the OS.


The "Bing Bar" up top froze our IE window for ~60 seconds on each launch.

"Bloatware" is usually provided by third-party software companies, and can range from security suites to unwanted Web browser toolbars. It's most problematic as these programs generally attempt to boot up first thing, right as the OS is booting up, before the end-user ever has a chance to launch the program on their own accord. Let's give an example. We recently unwrapped Dell's Inspiron Duo, a unique tablet/netbook hybrid that is currently on the test bench. The initial unboxing experience went something like this: "Wow! What a beautiful and unique looking machine." Then we booted it up. It seemed quick enough, but after the Window desktop appeared, the experience went downhill very quickly.


Look at this insane list of startup applications on the Inspiron Duo!

The first thing we noticed is that we couldn't even move the mouse cursor because dozens of applications were attempting to load simultaneously in the background. On a weak Atom CPU, this is a real grinder. It took around 45 seconds before we could do anything at all, and even then the cursor was jumping around as the machine was still stuttering through the loading process. We attempted to surf down to the Internet Explorer icon, but before we could press it, a McAfee Security Suite started up an update process without even asking us. It simply assumed that we wanted it there, and further, wanted an update. We weren't even connected to the Internet at this point, so up pops an error.


Is all of this really needed? If so, let me do the launching!

And it's not just Dell. Over the past few months, we have encountered similar tribulations on HP, Asus and Acer machines, with many others also guilty of installing software at the factory that we never asked to be there.

It's time for companies to take note: consumers do not want bloatware. It's a royal pain from top to bottom, and moreover, it ruins your brand! When people think of HP and Dell, they immediately think of just how infuriating it is that their last "new" PC took over one minute to boot up and become useable. To these companies: why are you saddling your machines with software that makes it less enjoyable to use? Does anyone at HP, Dell, Acer or Asus actually boot up one of these machines themselves and try to use it? It's painful, and incredibly frustrating. What if I don't want a security suite on my PC? Or what if I prefer Norton, and have to spend half an hour uninstalling McAfee just to make room for my preferred alternative? Why should the first 30 minutes of PC ownership involve the process of uninstalling programs that I never wanted in the first place? And even after that, fragments are still left floating on the hard drive, further dampening performance.


Taking up valuable screen real estate and resources atop Internet Explorer.

What if I just want to use a Web browser the way Google, Mozilla or Microsoft intended? Why are you making the executive decision for me that I need a resource-draining toolbar installed? Who gave you the power to make my machine less quick? And why in the world would you want to make your machines less quick?

The solution seems pretty simple to us. If you still wish to include loads upon loads of third-party software, stick it all on a thumb drive and include it with every new machine. Problem solved. The added cost is marginal, there's no extra hit in shipping weight, and guess what? Your machines are quicker from the start! People are more likely to have a positive experience! Your brand is improved! It sounds like a win-win to us.


Ditch the bloatware, guys!

Has anyone else been soured by the ridiculous amount of bloatware that is shipping with pre-fabricated machines these days? How would you like to see the issue resolved? Let us know in comments!
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Amen! Preach it brother! I am sick and tired of having to deal with crapware - and that's what it is crap. I want to be able to enjoy my new computer not waste time getting rid your unwanted fluff.

Which brings me to recovery partitions. Recovery partitions should only provide a means to restore the OS. Either that or return to including the OS disks with the computer or better yet do both. Doing so would be a huge benefit to both consumers and techs, making repairs easier, faster, and cheaper.

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It appears that Microsoft has been listening:

http://www.winsupersite.com/article/windows-7/Microsoft-Signature.aspx

Hey Dave can you check into this and see if it is real?

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>> How would you like to see the issue resolved?

Force manufacturers to sell the hardware and the OS separately.

Following the installation prompts needed to install an OS is the minimal intelligence test we should demand that all people with potential access to the Internet should have to pass.

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First thing I do to any "branded" product purchase is to format the machine as soon as I get it!! I've been doing this for 4-5 years now!!! And I've been advising the same to most of my friends. The Bloatware only seems to increase as the years go by!! I use Kaspersky and to un-install a pre-existing crap AV is a pain in wherever. so better format the darn thing!!

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How would you like to see the issue resolved?

Like EU forced MS to include an option for selecting their browser on 1st run, Other things also should have the same option. Bloody hell, I will never use most of the crap these re-sellers bundle along!!

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Bloatware isn't going away anytime soon, top brands like Dell and HP are making millions and millions based on this annoyance.

To resolve this? If you are the average user, Spend a couple of reboot sessions deleting unwanted crap....if your savvy ,its only one reboot.

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I remember when companies like Sony used to sell you a computer without the bloatware for a few dollars more but I guess they care more about their deals then they do their consumers.

Like everybody else said, reformat. You won't change their minds anytime soon.

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Buy a Sager notebook.

No Bloatware.

No OS if desired.

Quality built.

Good warranty options.

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The manufactures could simply include a drivers disc with an Extra bloatware folder. and the OS system to be purchased separately . The could easily give discounts on Win7 versions bundled at time of purchase.Lot of manufactures gave big promo on free upgrade included a while back.

Removing the bloatware and the backup recovery song & dance are the hidden costs for the un-savy user.

I'll be sure to share this with those that are un-aware and suggest they join HH for un-biased articles like this and the community.

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Well, I've only bought one desktop instead of rolling my own in the last 10 years. That was a Smooth Creations and had zero bloat. The only things they installed were some benchmark software, games (came with disk), and Firefox (I asked for it). Oh, and a couple of jpgs as backgrounds.

Now on laptops, yea it sucks. My G73 had tons of nasty ASUS programs on it that I spent about an hour blasting, then got everything tweaked and updates installed. Then I rolled up a set of custom restore DVDs.

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As far as it goes I without fail run Decrapifier on any laptop period. It gets rid of most of this leading to a much better experience after the first restart. I still wonder why this is not more common as there are several free tools to do thid, and Decrapifier is just the most recognized.

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Buy your PC as a barebones system, buy a blank hard drive, and install your own operating system. It takes 2 hours. It takes about 2 hours to remove (you hope!) all the crap they put on there. One way you spent 2 hours, and you know what you have. Another way you spent 2 hours and you don't know what you have.

Warren

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The problem is that customers demand low prices first and foremost. Since we demand low prices and PC manufacturers have difficulty differentiating their products they have very low profit margins. The only way they can give us such low prices is to make money in other ways. This is why we have bloatware. Having said that, it would be nice if higher end computers had a vanilla windows options since they tend to be more expensive anyways.

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I just had to format a friend of a friend's computer, an Acer, because upon launch almost every single Acer related program crashed to death. eEmpower, eManagament, eNetwork whatever. The things were so tightly inside the OS that even after uninstalling them, I couldn't launch the default Windows wireless network manager, so it was impossible to connect to a wi-fi network. I troubleshot the problem for a day trying to start services that were stopped but ultimately I had to format it. And the other shitty thing about companies nowadays is that if you don't use their pre-loaded operating system they don't offer support at all. Half of the drivers in their site didn't work properly, just because I installed Win7 into a Vista machine.

I hope someone reads this letter or others like it and this starts to diminish cos it is getting ridiculous.

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They get paid to put crap on the PC's before they sell them and they will not give up all of the extra money that they make from doing it.

No matter what you do or say, all you'll end up with is sand with a line drawn in it, and the hassle of cleaning all of that crap off of your brand new PC, time after time.

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To author:

BLOATWARE DOES NOT MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS.

"Bloatware" is space-consuming, resource-consuming, slow software, typically bloated with superfluous "features". If a user thinks MS Office or Photoshop or iLife or anything else fits that description, then (in the user's opinion) it's bloatware. It has nothing to do with whether the software is bundled with the computer or not, or even whether the user wants it or not. (Users willingly buy some programs they consider bloatware.)

This article is about "crapware". And everything you say about it true, and well-taken, and needs to be shouted from the rooftops..

Just replace every instance of "bloatware" with "crapware". That'll make the article is a perfect bit of required reading for clueless PC makers.

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And this is one of many reasons why I use a mac....

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The problem is the bloatware actually subsidizes the cost of the PC's. Ditching them means paying more. Though we are talking about small numbers here. Personally would rather pay the extra few bucks to have a clean machine come home then spend 30 minutes cleaning it.

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I know dell and hp load their computers up with bloatware, but I recently purchased a lenovo laptop, and it only had lenovo and intel software installed. There was no macafee, or norton crapware, just a few background processes and a clean copy of windows 7. For any other company, the first thing I do is slam a windows disc in and reinstall windows. It's way faster then trying to get rid of macafee, and windows update installs all the necessary drivers I may have deleted.

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Get rid of the hover ads on the site, and then you might have half a case.

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timw4mail -I don't think so. You're reading something here for free essentially. You do, however, pay darn good money for a PC and the operating system that goes on it. There is a viable revenue model in PC's, it's called hardware and soft, aka "the product" and the profit margin on it. The "product" here at HotHardware is journalism and like the radio you listen to and the TV you watch, the medium is ad supported - so don't give me that complete, utter B.S. Or should the entire internet be one big paywall or pay as you go?????

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rofl ; buy pc, hook to internet (or better yet have decrappifier on a USB stick), plug it in or download and run, restart. Open control panel change options to those you desire, run windows cleanup or download Ccleaner, and run then defrag, and restart. You have a clean running fast enjoyable PC, the OEM makes there money, because there not going to take it off without charging someone for it (and I am not talking $20), or buy from someone like Sager, Cyberpower (these companies do not I know install it as many specialty and other boutique builders don't), or better yet build it and install the OS yourself save money and have everything the way you want it from the start.

I mean really how long does it take to build a PC, I know it takes me about an hour to build it and install windows 7 pro. If you have never done it before a couple hours max, and your learning too *shrug*, seems like a decent trade to me.

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HH,

I can related to your hatred / frustration of bloatware very easily. I've dealt with this crap in the Retail tech arena from 98se through win7 and have seen it get worse and worse over the years. However, the "margin" that you talk about is all but non-existent. Couple of examples (full disclaimer, I worked for a major , now out of business CE retailer for both Corperate and field for the better part of either years, and at a number of other ones before that):

1) "specials" : Not only are specially sold to retailers below water , but the retailers turn around and resell these 399 specials for anywhere between 50 and 100 bucks below water.

2) Margins are desktops: The margin rate for all but the most expensive desktops hover around the 2-3 percent mark.

3) Margins are Laptops: In the lower end, laptop margin rate doesn't exist. Manufactures sell them for a couple of points over what they have into them and the retailers turn around and make about 1 point for the cheaper ones and up to 5 points on the more expensive ones.

Basically, my point is this: As much as I hate bloatware the PC market today, at the prices that we buy computers at, wouldn't exist. Manufactures can not fun a business off of five to ten points of margin, at a minimum it would take around 30 pts of margin before the likes of HP and Dell wouldn't even think about getting rid of the crap. With the state of the economy, and how much of a "walmart" generation this world is turning into (by that I mean everything has to be cheaper, cheaper, cheaper) do you really think the average consumer would be willing to pay upwards of 30 percent more on computers and laptops just so they wouldn't have to deal with bloatware?

The wouldn't and the reason they wouldn't is this, they really don't care or really know enough to care. It annoys the hell out of us because we know better and more importantly know how to fix it. The average consumer has been dealing with it for so long that it's become culture now and they expect it, so it don't bother them as much as it does us. Now, i think if they really understood and saw the differences that not having all of that crap on your PCs makes, then they would start to care. But by and large, they don't so to the manufactures is a mute point.

just my .02

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It is financially in companies favour to provide the extra software. This point has been made already.

Since you are a critic. Why not include in your reviews bloatware/crapware "scores" and lists of what is installed. Then as part of a fair review of the product, you can express how good/bad this aspect of product is. If this aspect is important to readers (as responses here testify) it may sway buying habits ($XX more for this machine over that one to save me Y hours cleaning it up) time = money, people who read reviews go as an informed customer and buy what is best for them.

Significant changes in buying habits are the only thing that will encourage change in manufactures.

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dhalliday:

It is financially in companies favour to provide the extra software. This point has been made already.

Since you are a critic. Why not include in your reviews bloatware/crapware "scores" and lists of what is installed. Then as part of a fair review of the product, you can express how good/bad this aspect of product is. If this aspect is important to readers (as responses here testify) it may sway buying habits ($XX more for this machine over that one to save me Y hours cleaning it up) time = money, people who read reviews go as an informed customer and buy what is best for them.

Significant changes in buying habits are the only thing that will encourage change in manufactures.

 

Great idea, dhailday.  We actually do comment on them but I think as a regular listing in our "HOT" and "NOT" list of highligh/lowlight features in a product review, we'll mandate a listing on this subject.  Makes sense!

 

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