Windows 8: Ads and junkware, business as usual

Summary:Microsoft has reimagined Windows 8 but if the inclusion of ads in apps by the company is any indication it's going to be business as usual for the new OS. Expect OEMs to put reams of junkware on new systems.

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Whether you like it or not, Windows 8 has been totally reworked from the ground up. The new interface, formerly known as Metro, sits side-by-side with the old desktop to provide something for everyone.

With a totally reworked platform one could hope that Microsoft would lean on PC makers to stop the onerous practice of stuffing new PCs with junkware. Junkware, or crapware as many call it, is the collection of apps that few want, preinstalled on new computers to make money for the OEMs. Sadly, the inclusion of ads by Microsoft itself in Windows 8 apps sets the stage for continued junkware on new PCs.

The discovery that some Microsoft apps on Windows 8 contained ads put some pundits in a rage. The feeling that software you pay for should not include ads to make the company money.

"If you accept a few banal ads in Windows 8 for $40, what would you accept in Windows 9 for $20? When does it stop? And why wouldn’t it get worse?" — Paul Thurrott

Colleague Ed Bott correctly points out that these ads are hardly intrusive, you almost have to go look for them to find them. I agree with him that the ads themselves, belonging to a different division of Microsoft that produces Windows 8, are not that big of a deal for the user.

I do believe that the ads are a bad thing for a totally different reason, and that is it sends a signal from Microsoft to the PC makers that anything they need to do to make Windows 8 profitable is OK. That could be ads as in the case of Microsoft, or more likely to continue PC business as usual and include boatloads of crapware on new PCs that almost nobody wants.

I don't think I am alone with the vivid memory of spending hours removing such crapware from new PCs I've purchased. Some preinstalled software is downright intrusive on the new owner's user experience, and sometimes it even slows the computer down. The only good way to deal with it is to remove it which is often not easy and always a pain in the rear.

With a brand new slate it was reasonable to hope that Microsoft was going to lay down the law about crapware to the OEMs. It is my opinion that Microsoft's inclusion of ads in its own Windows 8 apps is a clear sign that junkware is here to stay. Business as usual for Windows, reimagined and all.

As Paul Thurrott aptly puts it, putting ads anywhere in Windows 8 "cheapens the product". I agree with Thurrot and also think it paves the way for the loathsome practice of installing crapware on board new PCs. That really "cheapens the product".

Topics: Windows

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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