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Don Reisinger

A View from Don Reisinger

Same Crap, Different OS: Windows 8

The scourge of crapware refuses to die, even on Microsoft’s latest and greatest operating system, Windows 8.

  • November 27, 2012

In a recent study on Windows 8 crapware, tech news site InformationWeek polled PC makers to see what software they were bundling into their computers. The vendors were surprisingly forthright, detailing the many first- and third-party programs added to their PCs.

Acer’s Aspire 7600U was the worst culprit, bundling a host of first-party programs, like AcerCloud Docs and Acer’s Accessory Store, as well as dozens of third-party programs, ranging from Amazon and eBay apps to iCookbook.

Acer isn’t alone. Toshiba delivers trial versions of Office and Norton Internet Security software into its Windows 8 products, while Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga adds Accuweather, Skype, and several other programs to the operating system.

Surprisingly, Samsung decided against bundling third-party crapware into its ATIV Smart PC, but the company still added some unnecessary first-party software, like Quick Starter and AllShare Play.

Crapware has long been a thorn in the sides of Windows users. Consumers and enterprise users buy PCs under the faulty impression that they’ll be getting a completely clean computer when they break open the box. Instead, they find a PC that’s been loaded up with junk that they typically don’t need. What’s worse, all of that software slows down boot times and performance, since the programs are usually set to load automatically and typically run in the background.

But crapware’s most egregious impact on users might be what it represents. There was a time when PC makers believed that it was their responsibility to bundle software into their products because customers just didn’t know or understand what they needed. Customers relied on them to make their software decisions, PC makers reasoned, and it was their job to inform them.

But what those vendors failed to realize is that the average customer is informed and knows what he or she wants to use. Crapware isn’t useful; it’s insulting.

Why else might crapware still be hanging around? Blame it on the Almighty Dollar. By bundling trial versions of software, PC makers are enticing customers to buy full versions, thus lining company pockets. Simply put, it all comes back to squeezing every last dime out of an investment.

So, who is actually looking out for us? It’s tough to say. Microsoft is nice enough to offer a “Signature” experience to Windows shoppers that improves boot times and increases shut down speeds. Best of all, the company removes all trialware before shipping PCs to customers.

But like anything else in the land of crapware, there’s a catch: Microsoft charges $99 for Signature.

Thanks a lot, guys.

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