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Microsoft's app that promises Windows performance improvements has some shady stuff inside

A few days ago, users noted that PC Manager, Microsoft's official tool for optimizing and boosting performance in Windows 10 and 11, is now available in the Microsoft Store. It promises several seemingly useful features and convenient tools, but it also contains some odd stuff and questionable capabilities.

One of Neowin's members took a closer look at the PC Manager app and noticed that one of the ways it "optimizes" your computer's performance is by purging the Windows Prefetch folder. It is listed under the "Deep cleaning" option, suggesting more aggressive and effective results. This is where problems begin.

Microsoft itself does not recommend touching the Windows Prefetch folder since messing with its contents may result in the opposite of what the PC Manager app promises. Instead of making your PC faster, cleaning Windows Prefetch could lead to apps taking more time to launch.

PC Manager app on Windows 11
A Windows 11 app explains how Prefetch works in... Windows XP

A quick search on the Internet will show you fifteen-year-old or even older threads on Microsoft's official forums, with moderators and qualified experts warning against manually cleaning the Windows Prefetch directory. However, the PC Manager says those files "do not need to be kept." So which is it, Microsoft?

Besides offering maintenance of questionable benefits, there are some odd-looking links. By default, the Toolbox section contains two affiliate links (with tracking parameters) to Chinese software websites. Mind you, we are talking about an official Microsoft-made app under the "Microsoft Corporation label," which promises to be "pure without disturbance."

The former offers some kind of PowerPoint assistant for making slide decks, and appears to be operated by a company named Microsoft Mobile Lianxin Internet Services Co., Ltd., which sounds like a Chinese joint-venture of Microsoft's. The latter appears to be operated by a company named Hainan Chuangye Star Technology Co., Ltd. and offers a PDF editor that appears to copy Microsoft Word's user interface and PDF editing functionality. Looking at these URLs, they both appear to contain some kind of referral code links, which could mean that Microsoft, or at least the author(s) of this application, are collecting some revenue from visits to or purchases made through those web pages.

PC Manager app on Windows 11

Although these findings by no means render the Microsoft PC Manager app explicitly harmful, you still better think twice before using it on your system. This story shows that even Microsoft-made "optimizers" are not immune to shady stuff, so maybe we do not need all those cleaners and boosters after all.

But hey, there is a carbon emission counter that shows how much tons of CO2 this app saved.

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