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Microsoft Windows Technology

Windows 8 PCs Still Throttled By Crapware 657

jfruh writes "Windows 8's Metro UI presents a clean and spiffy new interface for Microsoft's latest OS. But one of the operating system's oldest and most hated problems — crapware — still lurks below the surface. For instance, the Acer Aspire 7600U is an all-in-one that, at $1,900, is hardly a bargain-basement PC. And yet as shipped it includes over 50 pieces of OEM and third-party software pre-installed, much of which simply offer trials for paid services."
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Windows 8 PCs Still Throttled By Crapware

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  • Questionable List (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rsmith-mac ( 639075 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @09:20PM (#42100833)

    Am I the only one that finds this list somewhat questionable?

    Of the 50 items, most of it definitely fits the definition of crapware: McAfee® Internet Security Suite, WeatherBug, Wild Tangent, etc

    But then there are some other items in here that have me scratching my head. When was Solitaire or Minesweeper crapware?

    They seem to just be listing all non-stock software (since MS doesn't include their Metro games in the box), which is not the same as crapware.

    • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Monday November 26, 2012 @10:07PM (#42101271)

      Sure, it's a lot of "crapwear". BUT, this is an OEM issue, not a MS / Win8 issue.

      Secondly, is this news? Not really, it's been this way for a LONG TIME.

      If you buy a system for which you don't intend on wiping and building up from zero, then you'll need to uninstall a lot of this crap. It's been this way for YEARS.

      And if you DO intend on running windows, ditch the factory install and cripple-wear reinstall CD that comes with it, and buy Win8 Pro so you have the actual full CD.

      None of this is news for OEM Windows systems.

    • by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <gaygirlie&hotmail,com> on Monday November 26, 2012 @11:12PM (#42101719) Homepage

      Let's see. There's plenty of apps on that list that I would NOT call crapware, as follows: 1) Acer Recovery Management -- well, the name says it all. It's an application that allows the user to e.g. create recovery disks for the system and/or restore the thing to factory conditions. 2) Acer Live Update -- it's a small application that periodically checks Acer's servers for updated software, drivers and BIOS. Again, quite useful. 3) Cyberlink MediaEspresso -- atleast the version I got on my laptop was the full version, not a trial one, and people do like to use the app to convert their videos for YouTube or mobile phones. 4) Spotify -- well, many people enjoy streaming music, and it's not like Spotify slows your computer down just by being installed there. 5) Crystal Eye -- it's a webcam utility which allows the user to record videos or take pictures. Since Windows seemingly does not include such an application of its own then it actually does make a lot of sense to include this.

      I just get the impression that the author felt like whining online in an effort to gain some sort of street cred among geek community, but didn't actually peruse the list properly.

      • by Zibodiz ( 2160038 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @02:25AM (#42102819)
        I would kinda tend to disagree with most of your points.
        1) I totally agree.
        2) Totally unneeded. Vendor updating slows computers needlessly. If there is a critical driver update, it gets pushed to MS and will be downloaded with Windows Update.
        3) Sure, you can use it, but why? It runs as a background service, and (if it's like the Win7 version) as a systray app that hogs resources whether you ever use them or not. They do nothing for you that Windows can't do out-of-the-box. And why would you need a program to convert videos before uploading to youtube? Youtube accepts any standard video format, and if you have a camcorder, it would have come with software to do any necessary conversion. If it didn't, that's their problem, and not something a PC manufacturer should be concerned about.
        4) Totally unneeded. Spotify makes money from you by playing ads. Their software is every bit as useless as an IE toolbar. Sure, some can have handy features, but that definitely does not make up for their unneeded bloat or the fact that they're only there to make money off of you. If someone wants Spotify features, they can download Spotify. Or maybe they could just use xbox music, a new service from MS that comes preloaded in Win8 that is exactly the same thing.
        5) Maybe some folks like the features of this software better than the integrated application, but Windows 8 does have pre-loaded webcam software. It comes on the Microsoft install disk -- I purchased Windows 8 for my PC and installed it from scratch. I don't know what features it has, because my webcam unfortunately isn't compatible (the only hardware issue I've had with Win8), but it's there nonetheless.
        The only software I consider appropriate for an OEM build would be the basic Windows components, Java (which is difficult thanks to licensing), and the basic Adobe suite of free software (which MS is trying to do away with, thanks to 'viewer' for opening PDFs, and Silverlight). Everything else should be installed later by the end user, including the free MS games. After all, Win8 has a large, obvious button for the market, where people can download anything that's available.
        • Re:Questionable List (Score:4, Informative)

          by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @04:49AM (#42103357) Homepage Journal

          You need to think about it from a typical end user's point of view. I worked in a computer (repair) shop for a few years and you would be surprised what the average person's expectation of a laptop is.

          2) If there is a critical security issue with one of Acer's apps then it makes sense to have an automatic update mechanism, because the chance of the user going to Acer's web site and checking themselves is close to zero.

          3) Yes, if you have a camcorder it might have the right software, but if you are just using your phone or the built-in web cam you probably won't. Uploading 1080p video can take a long time so it makes sense to reduce the file size first. Plus you might want to burn it to DVD, which again means conversion.

          5) This is a good example of why OEMs include their own software. The MS app is basic and can't control all the features of the camera. It works fine for most people but the OEM will want to differentiate their webcam from the rest with extras, so they need their own app. In other words it isn't completely pointless crapware, it does actual provide some additional functionality.

          People often complain about pre-installed anti-virus software as well, but consumers expect it to be there. Of course McAfee is the worst choice by far but having none isn't really an option. Can you license Security Essentials for pre-installation?

    • by Ambvai ( 1106941 )

      Hell, I bet more people would complain if Solitaire and Minesweeper were NOT included.

  • by sk999 ( 846068 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @09:21PM (#42100843)

    I figure the crapware vendors pay enough to balance out the cost of MS Windows 8. Thus, when I wipe the hard disk and install Linux, I'm still breaking even.

  • by Sussurros ( 2457406 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @09:22PM (#42100851)
    My clean Android is full of crapware that I can't remove. Windows crapware is removeable.

    Windows beats Android on crapware.
  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @09:24PM (#42100867)

    why Norton Internet Security or McAfee Internet when MS own tools are better.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @09:37PM (#42101015) Homepage

    This is one of those "it's good to remind people of a pervasive problem" stories. Some people accept this as "status quo" and others see it as a serious problem.

    We get it. The business of PCs is stupidly tight with slim margins. The easiest way to supplement profit is to sell software installation services to software vendors. It doesn't bother the OEMs that they are doing this at the expense of the PC customer or even at their own reputation.

    Commenter Sussurros above states another obvious problem. Crapware on phones... android phones. And I heartily agree. I think we will see a bit less of it soon though.

    Turns out Google is changing the game. I find it FASCINATING that the Google Nexus 4 phones cost between $300 and $350 and yet T-Mobile says it costs a LOT more and will sell it cheaper if you buy two years of obligated service with expensive data plan. What surprises me the most is that T-Mobile thinks they can get away with this... worse! They *are* getting away with it. Google sold out of inventory in minutes. T-Mobile sold out in hours. There are no Nexus 4 phones.

    The phone you get from Google is bloatware free and carrier unlocked. I don't know if that's the case with the T-Mobile version... anyone know?

    But just as in the PC market, the phone market cannot resist the extra money (even if they are making insane profits already) they make by including crapware.

    I decided long ago when my contract is up, I will do this no more. I will have my Nexus 4 when it becomes available again. I'm definitely not buying from those scalpers... sheesh... $500, $600 each?! I know there's a sucker every minute, but I'm not one of them. I'll wait a bit longer... I've got time.

    Android has enabled the game to be changed. This is something that ONLY open source software could do. It's not just free software. It's FREEDOM software. I know I'm not alone in my intention. I'll spend a little more up front and save a LOT more in the long run.

    I'm done with your games, carriers. Are you listening? Done!

  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @09:42PM (#42101081) Homepage

    How else are you going to justify that i7 CPU? Crapware needs to run on something. Oh, and a little extra left over just for you. Enjoy.

  • by sideslash ( 1865434 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @09:43PM (#42101093)
    Everything that Windows 8 brings to the table works against bloatware -- for example, Windows 8 Store apps can't monopolize CPU and memory unless the user deliberately launches and is actively running them, generally speaking. Store apps (aka Metro) are very well behaved due to intentional OS constraints. Desktop apps can still be poorly behaved and set themselves to run on startup, phone home, etc., but that's just because Windows 8 is compatible with poorly behaved apps written for previous Windows versions. Microsoft's Windows 8 software logo requirements for desktop apps mandate that apps _not_ add themselves to the "run on startup" registry keys. But that part is not enforced, which was the right call on Microsoft's part. If they made Windows desktop software a walled garden, everybody here would be screaming bloody murder.

    tl;dr version: basically Windows 8 brings a substantial improvement against bloatware in that the RT/Metro/Store side protects your CPU/memory resources from being consumed by it; but the legacy desktop side is still an unlocked experience, and vendors can install junk on there if they want to.
    • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @11:03PM (#42101637) Homepage

      but the legacy desktop side is still an unlocked experience, and vendors can install junk on there if they want to.

      Depends on your definition of "junk." Most of the stuff in the Windows App Store looks like junk to me, just like most of the stuff in most app stores.

      Also, your definition of "legacy" must be different than mine. I've been using Windows 8 on a daily basis since shortly after it launched, and I spend all day using desktop apps. I don't really see a way that my workloads can be transferred to TIFKAM apps, either, so I pretty much just ignore the Start Screen most of the time. (FWIW, this is actually very easy to do in Windows 8, despite all the online articles screaming bloody murder about having to put up with it.)

  • Just uninstall it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OldSport ( 2677879 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @10:12PM (#42101311)

    Is it annoying? I guess so... I don't really get my panties in a bunch about it; I just uninstall it and then I never have to deal with it again. Basic computer literacy, really.

  • Basic Psychology (Score:5, Insightful)

    by high_rolla ( 1068540 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @10:12PM (#42101313) Homepage

    The thing is, when they sell to a corporate this doesn't matter. The corporation just creates their own image and drops that on every machine as standard.

    The next largest market is not us techies but Joe average. Now yes, they do make money by pre installing this crapware but it also gives them an advantage. On the packaging they can show off that their machine comes preinstalled with this large list of software (highlighting various well known names). Joe average will tend to make his purchasing decision based on which machine has the largest list of features and the biggest numbers (works the same for stereos, TV's, etc). That's why all this tech comes packed with useless features that more often than not reduce the experience and performance. If you want to outsell the competition, sadly, this approach works.

    This is why this trend is not going to change anytime soon.

    You can win by not taking this approach (and Apple is probably the best example of this) but your product has to be well polished and typically you will be aiming for the upper market who more often than not doesn't fall for these marketing tricks.

    • This remains much of my extended family.

      Bog-standard Windows PCs at big-box store. One says "Includes over 50 programs and supports millions of Windows applications" on the box. The other says "Windows PC" on the box.

      Uncle no-name: "Well, I'll take this one because it includes tons of software and is compatible with millions of programs. The other one isn't."

      Me: "Those programs are all worthless, and the other one supports just as much software. They're both Windows PCs."

      Uncle no-name: "Hey, free is free. A

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @10:13PM (#42101317)

    I expect crapware. Blow away the OS and install from clean .isos using appropriate tools. I'll not detail it here, the internet is your friend.

    OS replacement should be trivial for nearly every Slashdotter. Back in 1999 they even discussed such things in these very forums. (Now get off my lawn, though given continental drift it's probably somewhere in the Marianas Trench...)

    If you don't know how, MANY nice folks on many forums offer their expertise for the reading. (Google "My Digital Life forums")

    If you don't WANT to know how, Fark is that >>>> way.

  • FUD (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mug funky ( 910186 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @10:21PM (#42101357)

    anyone read that list?

    spotify was mentioned twice. minesweeper and solitaire were included.

    also, all crapware from all territories appears to have been added to the same list and presented as "this is what you'll get".

    consider what comes out-of-the-box on an ubuntu installation.

    i'm not defending crapware at all - i hate it. but a strong case against it is not made by misrepresentation or outright lying.

  • by sdnoob ( 917382 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @10:24PM (#42101411)

    the big PC makers make a ton of money off those crapware distribution deals.. they make money on windows in the end, which is why you won't find a no-OS or linux PC from any of them for the same price as a windows one of the same model and specs...

    i suspect windows 8 will be *worse* than earlier versions, due to having two separate user interfaces to pollute instead of just one.

  • by AaronLS ( 1804210 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @10:54PM (#42101559)

    I would like to differentiate where the problem is, and provide suggestions on how people can avoid this problem.

    This is a problem with buying from certain manufacturers/retailers who add bloatware. Simply don't support this practice with your purchases. It has nothing to do with the OS. Linux and Android are just as susceptible to this if not more since the OS is open source, such as when wireless providers modify the Android OS itself(rather than simply adding applications) which can cripple the OS with bloated features, instability, or poorly designed UI. In this case you can't simply uninstall an app to undo the problem, but usually must flash the device. I'm not saying the OS being open source is a bad thing; I'm just pointing out how some carriers abuse this.

    Examples of how to avoid bloatware(for phones or computers).
    -Only buy phones which come with the stock/vanilla Android OS. I personally prefer the Nexus devices for this reason. Additionally, these devices usually will have OS updates available earlier than others.
    -If your phone does have a lot of bloatware, something like Cyanogen mod(if supported on your phone) can give you a OS with less bloat and more freedom. I actually flashed my Nexus One with Cyanogen and freed up alot of internal memory. Even my stock Nexus One had slowly become bloated with apps that I didn't need over time like Twitter, which came along with OS updates and could not be moved off internal storage or uninstalled. I went from 5 mb free internal storage(which is a serious problem) to 100 mb free internal storage.

    -Sometimes you can call sales and request that you get only the stock OS on your computer or laptop. I know businesses have been able to request Dell laptops be provided this way.
    -Build your own computer or buy barebone, and load the stock OS yourself.
    -Take note of bloatware when using other's computers, or go to a store where the model is setup and you can test drive. Take note of which manufacturers have the most OEM bloatware. If you are used to helping other's with their computers, it is usually pretty obvious what apps are things they didn't install, and are bloatware.
    -Be wary of a computer that advertises lots of free software. If it is really full version software, then you are paying for its cost somewhere in the price of the computer. Better to buy a computer without this hidden cost, and use the savings to buy the software that you pick out(instead of the OEM's choices). If it is only trial software, then maybe the computer is a very tiny bit cheaper as a result, and your time is probably worth more than the trouble of dealing with the bloatware and "Trial Expired" popups. So either way, avoid bundled software. I don't even like bundled antivirus.

  • by smash ( 1351 ) on Monday November 26, 2012 @10:54PM (#42101561) Homepage Journal
    Windows 8 isn't throttled with crapware. Certain vendor PCs are throttled with crapware.
  • Come again? But yes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheGoodNamesWereGone ( 1844118 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @12:08AM (#42102141)
    You lost me at Metro being "clean and spiffy," but you're right otherwise. I give it one or two years before some bright bulb dreams up an OS or even hardware to force feed advertising to the user, all the while claiming it reduces costs... Consoles already do.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva