Editorial

Microsoft, can you help us fight the bloatware battle?

Windows 8 is going to be a game changer for Microsoft. The new look, the touch friendly interface, and the host of enhancements that will increase productivity, stability, and provide a new direction for the traditional OS.

There is one area that Microsoft has not addressed publicly and unfortunately, may never address as it lines the pockets of its vendors, is bloatware.

Admit it, how many times have you purchased a new laptop or desktop and the first thing you do is format the primary drive to remove all the crap that comes pre-loaded? It’s almost demoralizing if you think about how many times you have had to uninstall Norton Antivirus or remove the droves of pre-installed toolbars.

It’s the bloatware that hurts the performance of the machine that kills the Windows image, not the actual OS itself. Yes, Microsoft has had a few flaws, but the majority of the time when a user complains about sluggish performance of a new machine, it’s because of all the crap that comes pre-installed on the machine.

Microsoft needs to find a way around this as the bloat is getting to the point that it’s almost laughable. Is this really Microsoft’s fault? Unfortunately, it is not, but Microsoft has, and always will, get the blame because they create the OS the general consumer doesn’t equate the bloatware to the vendor.

Microsoft must find the fine balance between allowing pre-installed software and vendor agreements. Yes, we know that bloatware helps keeps the price of the PC down, in theory at least, but it is also marketed to assist the user with their daily activities. You know what else also offered to help with your daily activities but was nothing more than a parasite? Bonzi Buddy.

If Microsoft can find a balance of allowing vendors to provide the option to pre-load (but not install) third party software and provide the end user with the option to select which packages to load during the initial install, they may be able to strike a balance with their vendors and keep their name in good faith.

Let’s face it, if a vendor loads up a machine with excessive bloatware, who gets the blame? If you said the vendor (which is the logical selection), you would be wrong, Microsoft gets the blame because it created the software. Is Microsoft at fault, not in the least, but they will get the lion’s share of the blame. When was the last time you heard someone denounce a vendor because of the OS running slowly upon initial boot?

The sad fact is that bloatware is being used to offset margins and keep PC cost low, or so they would like us to believe. But it is done at the expense of Microsoft, not the vendor. In this game, Microsoft has more of its image tarnished because vendors are destroying their OS with excessive add-ons, dubbed, “enhancements”.

Pleading with the vendor is a lost cause; our only hope is Microsoft finding a happy medium to prevent the bloat. Otherwise, the formal process of formatting before using will only become more prevalent as vendors find new ways to lower the cost of the PC by increasing the third party additions to their products.   

Bloatware is not Microsoft’s fault, vendors are to blame, but when vendors don’t listen, maybe Microsoft can provide a bit of pressure to keep the end consumers happy.

Image Credit: best-laptop-guide.com

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A lot of vendors are swines for this - I can say almost without reservation that every PC / laptop I've bought from a big player in the PC market has been absolutely terrible.

Most recently were a new Dell workstation, with a Core i5 and 4GB of RAM. The first boot took an eternity. I ended up just wiping it, and reinstalling it. Much cleaner / faster.

I also bought a Samsung Netbook a while back and the out of box experience of that was DREADFUL. Lots of bloatware and it took a backup / ghost image of the machine to a hidden partition before I could even use it.. so was about 45 minutes to an HOUR after first turning it on before I could even use the damn thing.

I don't know how they can't see that this hurts them and makes them look bad compared to Apple for example, who just have a nice welcome video, a registration process and you're off to the desktop. No wonder Microsoft are starting to enforce some changes here.

I don't have any problems with Bloatware. But I see that a lot of my friends' computers have Bloatware. Bloatware causes their computers to be really messy.

iwillneverstop said,
I don't have any problems with Bloatware. But I see that a lot of my friends' computers have Bloatware. Bloatware causes their computers to be really messy.
most people seem to love bloatware, the more the better. they even willingly add more bloatware, 20+ toolbars, 12 anti-virus scanners (just to be sure) and always think they are the 1millionst visitor.

Was it really necessary to dig up a 12yr old piece of software like BonziBUDDY? To put it into perspective, it was discontinued over 6yrs ago - that's before Windows Vista and Windows 7 were even released. This article is based upon a tired cliché and contributes nothing to the debate, while making no attempt to ascertain the current situation. It also completely ignores the "reset" feature that's been built into Windows 8, designed to address this very situation

For starters, was there even any attempt to contact Microsoft or large vendors like Dell or HP? If so why was it not mentioned? It not then why not? Was there any attempt to analyse the performance hit - if indeed there is any - of said "bloatware"? Was there any attempt to find out whether it's possible to request to not have any preinstalled software? How about something as basic as a user poll? This "article" is the sort of thing I'd expect to read in a forum, not on the frontpage.

Look, nobody is expecting Neowin to produce Pulitzer Prize winning material. And I know the site claims to be "unprofessional". But even so, this sort of article really reflects badly not just on the author but on Neowin.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Was it really necessary to dig up a 12yr old piece of software like BonziBUDDY? To put it into perspective, it was discontinued over 6yrs ago - that's before Windows Vista and Windows 7 were even released. This article is based upon a tired cliché and contributes nothing to the debate, while making no attempt to ascertain the current situation. It also completely ignores the "reset" feature that's been built into Windows 8, designed to address this very situation
win8 aint out yet. and MS sotres are a solution to this to.


For starters, was there even any attempt to contact Microsoft or large vendors like Dell or HP? If so why was it not mentioned? It not then why not? Was there any attempt to analyse the performance hit - if indeed there is any - of said "bloatware"? Was there any attempt to find out whether it's possible to request to not have any preinstalled software? How about something as basic as a user poll? This "article" is the sort of thing I'd expect to read in a forum, not on the frontpage.

have you ever used a HP/dell/vaio/toshiba laptop out of the box?
you know an empty install only has recycle bin on desktop? and no taskbar items except IE, WMP and explorer? the traybar only has your internet, keyboard and sound?
go look on any of those systems from hp/dell/vaio/toshiba, is there more running or not?
if so, reinstall (if its 32bit, to 64bit if possible) and enjoy the speed increase =)


Look, nobody is expecting Neowin to produce Pulitzer Prize winning material. And I know the site claims to be "unprofessional". But even so, this sort of article really reflects badly not just on the author but on Neowin.

that it doesnt reflect your opinion, is your problem. i for one, like that the items here are written by human beings and not like some kind of robot like political correct buttmonkey

It's simple, buy a computer without the OS (or format it, but then you're paying someone to install something which you then remove), and buy a clean OS disk separately. That way you can often get a better price, and no bloatware.

Sad fact is that since Windows 2000, when MS decided to remove "Custom Installation" feature, every single Windows is "bloatware". Nowadays with Windows you get whole spectrum of unneeded, what they call 'em "features". There should definitely be "Semi-Pro User Installation", but not the one that requires advanced knowledge of Windows image creation with WAIK, although this is the only way to customize Windows to you needs - if you have the knowledge, and if you can afford the license.

There are things Microsoft can and has been doing:

1. They have been offering "Signature" PCs from their Microsoft retail stores. No bloatware, and comes with MSE and WLE instead.

2. They have a feature in Windows 8 that allows users to easily "refresh" their PC, and all files and apps downloaded from the Windows store will stay, but all other apps will be deleted (i.e. bloatware?). It might get rid of the bloatware, seems easy enough, and it's probably just something that hopefully many consumers will know about when they buy a new PC.

3. Microsoft could do one their logo certifications, and emphasize that consumers get the best if they buy a "Designed for Windows" type certification where there's absolutely no bloatware, and maybe MSE+WLE installed instead. Of course, this may bump up the price, but there's the option if OEMs will do it.

Personally, the whole bloatware coming with PC isn't too much a biggie, probably b/c I'm tech savvy enough to know you can reformat straight out of the box, or take a little extra time to figure out which apps I want to keep or not keep. For instance, I liked the Hulu Desktop app that came with my HP. It supposedly will save me money, and just a little extra time to remove the bloat. Sony claims it's worth $50 more to get a VAIO w/o the bloat, so there you go.

Ironic you chose Toshiba as the background. Great laptop but whatever bloatware they are using, pi**ed Microsoft off pretty good. Even sent me a new copy of Windows 7 SP1 on a disk for it. Basically right out of the box Toshiba Windows 7 Home refused to upgrade to SP1. Microsoft spent 2-3 weeks trying to figure out before they came to the same conclusion I did. Straight reinstall.... and Toshiba as usual has no existing tech support. That hasn't changed since my brother got the households first laptop (Toshiba)

Maybe MS could charge more for a licence for those OEMs that add bloatware to the final install, is it possible without getting sued?

Thinking that having bloatware is helping you save money on a computer from these vendors is laughable. You could build the exact same machine with the same specs for a few hundred dollars less(well only the case would be different).

The OEM's are underestimating the damage that the coming 85 east coast Microsoft Stores are going to be doing to there bottom line when it comes to PC's. And I can't wait. People are not stupid, they just aren't as smart as all of us in here. They should not have to deal with the garbage that OEM's do to a new pc. PERIOD. Shame on HP, Dell, and all of them. Between viruses and crapware the damage done to Windows was incalculable over the years.

And If I had a dime for every goddamn person that blamed Vista for the fact that there were icons all over the screen, or they had entered the wrong outgoing email server, or it was Vista's fault or Microsoft's fault that they forgot their Gmail password, "I've never had a password on my email, this Windows sucks." I'd have enough money to go buy a brand new low end box at Best Buy for $289 pre loaded with Windows 7 and full of crapware.

jimmyfal said,
The OEM's are underestimating the damage that the coming 85 east coast Microsoft Stores are going to be doing to there bottom line when it comes to PC's. And I can't wait. People are not stupid, they just aren't as smart as all of us in here. They should not have to deal with the garbage that OEM's do to a new pc. PERIOD. Shame on HP, Dell, and all of them. Between viruses and crapware the damage done to Windows was incalculable over the years.

And If I had a dime for every goddamn person that blamed Vista for the fact that there were icons all over the screen, or they had entered the wrong outgoing email server, or it was Vista's fault or Microsoft's fault that they forgot their Gmail password, "I've never had a password on my email, this Windows sucks." I'd have enough money to go buy a brand new low end box at Best Buy for $289 pre loaded with Windows 7 and full of crapware.

Really? That's all you could buy? Hell, I thought you would be able to buy the New York Yankees!

My new VAIO came with a lot of bloatware, some of them useful and some others not, It took a while to figure out the purpose of each application and then uninstall them, thankfully Sony includes an uninstalling application to delete the ones I don't want, from +100 processes it ended up with 80+ processes running after a cold boot

What can Microsoft do? It's not their fault that OEM have third party bloatware on their machines. The OEMs get paid to put the bloatware on, this subsidizing the price of the computer.

Micorosft Signature PCs are a start, but they're limited. If OEMs would at least offer an option to have the computer come bloatware-free for a fee, then I'd be happy.

I do sympathize with those who have dealt with removing bloatware that come with new PCs. My parents recently brought a new HP computer, and the first thing I did was reinstall Windows to get rid of all the bloatware that came with it.

Joey S said,
I prefer Arch Linux. I can choose exactly what software/daemons run on my system then. No more bloat

dell/hp ships arch linux systems?

I prefer Windows. I can choose exactly what software/daemons run on my system then. No more bloat [/

I once helped a customer with their new Toshiba laptop about 6 years ago. it had XP installed, and upon first boot it had about 10 icons in the system tray and had about 70 processes running in the back ground.

Are we seriously considering asking Microsoft to risk losing money on the behalf of its customers? Really? It's 2011 and we still don't understand how business works...

Don't bother asking for help, they don't care. They never will. Business is about profit. If Microsoft can cut a corner or two by allowing third-party vendors to bundle BS crapware they will do it. You're better off having a copy of PC-Decrapifier on-hand or reformatting as soon as you get your computer.

bjoswald said,
Are we seriously considering asking Microsoft to risk losing money on the behalf of its customers? Really? It's 2011 and we still don't understand how business works...

Don't bother asking for help, they don't care. They never will. Business is about profit. If Microsoft can cut a corner or two by allowing third-party vendors to bundle BS crapware they will do it. You're better off having a copy of PC-Decrapifier on-hand or reformatting as soon as you get your computer.

No actually, the average consumer is better off getting it straight from Microsoft, because the average consumer doesn't know what PC Decrapifier is. You give the average consumer WAAAAAY to much credit. MS is positioning themselves to be the place that you can buy a pc without crapware, and NO they do not charge extra to decrapify, it comes clean. It's the OEM's that will figure it out when people start flocking to the MS Stores to get their Windows PC's.

bjoswald said,
Are we seriously considering asking Microsoft to risk losing money on the behalf of its customers? Really?

Well ... yes? Maximising profit is balanced against keeping customers happy (unhappy customers won't buy your product).

I actually prefer to format and install the OS when I buy a new laptop for home use. Not only can I see how fast it takes, but it allows me to set it up the way I want and to create a backup point for Acronis

Like other stated, They are doing something about it in the US. Also they cannot do anything lese about it because symantec, and all the other companies pay toshiba hp and others to put the software on the machines.

Microsoft cannot do anything about it unless they make their own pc.

majortom1981 said,
Like other stated, They are doing something about it in the US. Also they cannot do anything lese about it because symantec, and all the other companies pay toshiba hp and others to put the software on the machines.

Microsoft cannot do anything about it unless they make their own pc.

They can refuse logo certification. They can also exclude the company's entire line from sales in the Microsoft Stores.

There is a lot they can do, if OEMs want to load their PCs with bloat, MS will continue to sell licenses but refuse to give logo certification. Then you will know that only a 'Designed for Windows 8' PC means no-bloat.

MS seem to forget that the reason retailers can offer cheap PC's and laptops is because of the bloat. Companies like Norton support retailers with vendor income to make the PC cheaper.

It's worth it for most people due to that fact alone. It doesn't take much to remove it either. I don't support it, but I understand it. Most regular consumers will also as they get a better deal.

Think about a computer brand that disabled W7 superbar by default and set old look taskbar. (old one is better for xp minded, IMO btw) Where did Microsoft's W7 experience effort go?

Pleading with the vendor is a lost cause;

No kidding, they make way too much money off that crap to actually care about consumers!

Microsoft contribute its part to the bloatware installed. Microsoft is paying OEMs $5 for installing Office 2010 Starter and another $5 for installing Windows Live applications.

alexalex said,
Microsoft contribute its part to the bloatware installed. Microsoft is paying OEMs $5 for installing Office 2010 Starter and another $5 for installing Windows Live applications.

Those are not bloatware. where did you get those numbers from?

alexalex said,
Microsoft contribute its part to the bloatware installed. Microsoft is paying OEMs $5 for installing Office 2010 Starter and another $5 for installing Windows Live applications.

Removing those doesn't take long and doesn't require an OS reinstall to remove them either.

alexalex said,

Look here . http://www.neowin.net/news/mic...ter-for-2-but-with-bing-bar :-)

Yes, they are bloatware for me. First thing I did with my new Windows 7 laptop is to uninstall 15 windows live applications and Office Starter.

Doesn't Apple computers come with Apple applications? Apples come with teh bloatz!!!one11!

When it's core stuff like first party productivity, Instant messaging, a photo gallery programs but it's entirely a different can of worms when it's redundant third party programs like docks, three different antivirus programs, "wireless assistants" etc. That add no value to the platform but drag it down.

alexalex said,
Microsoft contribute its part to the bloatware installed. Microsoft is paying OEMs $5 for installing Office 2010 Starter and another $5 for installing Windows Live applications.

Every PC I build gets MS Security Essentials and Windows Live Essentials. I do not get $2 from MS.

alexalex said,

First thing I did with my new Windows 7 laptop is to uninstall 15 windows live applications and Office Starter.

15?? There are not even half as many live essentials…

I'm pretty sure that even though nothing has been 'publicly' announced, there will be changes to OEM Logo program that include changes to the amount of 'bloatware' that can be installed on a PC. Think of the requirements being somewhere between the free-for-all we have today, and the rigid requirements set forth upon Windows Phone 7.

Only time will tell.

I'm not entirely sure but I think Microsoft plans to combat this problem by selling PCs from their stores. While it won't have a significant impact for a long time; word will eventually get out to consumers that its best to buy your PC from a Microsoft Store to avoid the problems brought on by bloatware.

Since the DOJ anti-trust case against Microsoft, Microsoft can't "provide a bit of pressure" to OEM's on what they can install on their computers.

Snowx2k5 said,
Since the DOJ anti-trust case against Microsoft, Microsoft can't "provide a bit of pressure" to OEM's on what they can install on their computers.

Exactly. People got what they asked for. They MS put pressure on the OEMs to not install other software, they were sued and their power in the computer industry was limited. Now there are calls for Microsoft to do exactly what they were sued for - and still being sued for, see Novell. No doubt if they did do this, then there would complaints that now that they are out from under the descent decree, they went back to their old ways, need to be sanctioned, and should be broken up.

Any way to bring down Microsoft and promote the competition. It is not about doing what is right for the user, it is doing what is right for Apple or Linux.

I had to factory restore too laptops back to basics at the weekend. PC Decrappifier helped a lot.
No signature PCs in the UK though

Main time spent was downloading and installing updates. 110+ as they were both Vista machines. Afterwards both were fine. Reminds you that a lot of Win7 is just Vista patched and tweaked.

No way I am having Metro in my desktop windows though, that's one pack of bloatware I won't tolerate.

Chrispynutt said,
I had to factory restore too laptops back to basics at the weekend. PC Decrappifier helped a lot.
No signature PCs in the UK though

Main time spent was downloading and installing updates. 110+ as they were both Vista machines. Afterwards both were fine. Reminds you that a lot of Win7 is just Vista patched and tweaked.

No way I am having Metro in my desktop windows though, that's one pack of bloatware I won't tolerate.


win7 != patched vista. theres a ******** of changes, from a whole new driver structure to aero peek. look it up sometime =) its not only visual changes.

and you (and seems like everyone else) think that Metro will be the only option for windows 8 desktops? you crazy. MS is not going to do that. That'll be default for tablets, not desktops.

I believe that Windows Phone has shown how the future of Windows (including Windows 8) will deal with that problem. With the phone, vendors can install the bloatware but it's easy to uninstall such bloat, very hassle free. With Windows 8, for the metro apps you may do the same. Now we still have the desktop and vendors will still install stuff there and the bloat will continue. As we use less desktop applications and more metro applications and vendors start installing metro applications only, the problem shall be less of a problem (still and always be a problem but it will be easy to deal with). Another thing, toolbars will be gone from the new IE so there won't be any extra toolbars that users will have to deal with. For other browsers, that may still be an issue.

Of course what I am referencing the future of Windows and not the now or immediate future with Windows 8, it just shows that the direction that Windows is heading will correctly deal with this problem. That or Microsoft needs to open a lot more stores and put MS Signature on it.

why is this microsofts problem, its the makers of the systems that fill it with crap, not microsoft!

If it makes punters feel any better, businesses have the option to have all this crap removed (for a fee) from Dell, HP, Toshiba if you deal direct.......quite frankly screw that when it takes 15minutes to reinstall W7 from DVD. I did have a giggle of the image of bonzai buddy, lol almost forgot about that P.O.S.

Mando said,
why is this microsofts problem, its the makers of the systems that fill it with crap, not microsoft!

Because it makes the user experience with Windows ****ty, and therefore tarnishes Windows in the eyes of many users who don't know much better. This is a big perception problem for Microsoft, so yeah, they do need to address it.

custom gaming notebooks don't come with that **** (maybe alienware).
They just give a dvd of windows 7 to have fun.

Renvy said,
custom gaming notebooks don't come with that **** (maybe alienware).
They just give a dvd of windows 7 to have fun.

Yep DELL has the lowest bloatware numbers from what I Can recall. It has been Zero on my latest machines.

Frazell Thomas said,

Yep DELL has the lowest bloatware numbers from what I Can recall. It has been Zero on my latest machines.

And better still Dell computers come with a real Windows installation DVD minus all the crapware unlike Lenovo/Toshiba/HP/etc which ram an OEM restore image down customers collective throats.

Mr Nom Nom's said,

And better still Dell computers come with a real Windows installation DVD minus all the crapware unlike Lenovo/Toshiba/HP/etc which ram an OEM restore image down customers collective throats.


no install CD on my Dell. just a restore image.
i barely use that thing, year old, recently found out the crap thing is 32 bit =) no wonder it was slow, its from Q1 2010..... comes with 32bit OS? just installed 64bit to it, i notice i am missing some default installed crapware and major speedboost.

still wonder why it came shipped with 32bit version, its not cheaper or something

Shadowzz said,

no install CD on my Dell. just a restore image.
i barely use that thing, year old, recently found out the crap thing is 32 bit =) no wonder it was slow, its from Q1 2010..... comes with 32bit OS? just installed 64bit to it, i notice i am missing some default installed crapware and major speedboost.

still wonder why it came shipped with 32bit version, its not cheaper or something

Hopefully Dell isn't changing...

OEMs like to use 32bit as a default as it has better app compatibility. Not easy to explain 64bit to the old lady who got a cheap computer to run Corel Print Shop Deluxe 2000...

There isn't really much Microsoft can do. The OEM makes money from this bloatware so they have a strong incentive to offer it (including it allows them to lower the sticker price and compete on a lower cost avenue).

Consumers obviously don't care about the bloatware. I don't see Dell machines flying off the shelves even though they have the lowest bloatware numbers of any major OEM I've seen.

Until consumers say OK to spending a few dollars more for their machine AND show OEMs they value bloatware free machines we'll see this continue...

sam232 said,

Did you consider that is a US only thing before you typed? Or to you The World = US.

No, I understand that its currently a US only offering. I posted it to note that Microsoft isn't doing NOTHING to help fight against bloatware. However, since you mention it, all I really care about is what's available in the US. Seeing as I have not plans to live overseas any time soon and if I did it would be on a US military installation where it would still be available.

alexalex said,

You have to add $50 for a laptop without bloat.

Crapware subsidizes the cost of the computer. Companies pay to have their stuff preinstalled. Naturally, if you remove it on checkout then it'll cost more.

alexalex said,

You have to add $50 for a laptop without bloat.

that is because the bloatware LOWERS the cost by advertising.. have you never wondered why you buy a sony laptop and they have a netflix link on the homescreen that goes through a sony portal.. its because if people sign up, sony gets like 10 bucks or something..

so by not putting bloatware on, the companies are making less money..

Lachlan said,

that is because the bloatware LOWERS the cost by advertising.. have you never wondered why you buy a sony laptop and they have a netflix link on the homescreen that goes through a sony portal.. its because if people sign up, sony gets like 10 bucks or something..

so by not putting bloatware on, the companies are making less money..

howcome selfbuilds with same specs are pretty much always AT LEAST 25% cheaper. not counting those big vendors get the parts allot cheaper then u, upto 70% cheaper then when u buy the parts. This margin isnt good enough for vendors so they add bloatware to 'reduce' the costs? haha, ye sure.

Shadowzz said,
howcome selfbuilds with same specs are pretty much always AT LEAST 25% cheaper. not counting those big vendors get the parts allot cheaper then u, upto 70% cheaper then when u buy the parts. This margin isnt good enough for vendors so they add bloatware to 'reduce' the costs? haha, ye sure.

The companies that assemble the computers place markups on the final product to pay their employees. A company isn't going to sell a product for the cost of parts, they have to make money somehow.

pack34 said,
All you need to do is run PC-Decrapifier. All the crap is gone in about 15 minutes.

The point is that we would be better off if it wasn't there at all. Or, at the very least, optional.

pack34 said,
All you need to do is run PC-Decrapifier. All the crap is gone in about 15 minutes.

Also, if you don't want to mess with that, then just buy your computer from Microsoft's store. You have a choice to select the "Signature" option. Where the computer ships to you with no crapware on it.

pack34 said,
All you need to do is run PC-Decrapifier. All the crap is gone in about 15 minutes.

also windows 8 will solve this problem for the most part.. by not allowing plugins for their browser and making it more like windows phone.