Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

Summary: The Microsoft Signature program aims to eliminate the frustrating out-of-box experience common with new Windows PCs.

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Chances are you have experienced one of life's most frustrating moments when you have purchased a new PC. You take the PC out of the box, turn it on, and then spend hours dealing with the crapware and out-of-date software that comes installed by the OEM. My most recent episode of this nature cost me literally hours of pure frustration, not the out-of-box experience (OOBE) that any company wants to inflict on a new customer. Microsoft realizes that this practice of OEMs selling PCs bearing Windows reflects poorly on it, and is using the Signature program along with its retail stores to do something about it.

In a recent conversation with the Microsoft folks behind the Signature program, it is clear the company realizes how poorly the OOBE for new PCs is compared to those of competitor Apple. Apple has stuck to its guns and makes sure that every Mac sold can be up and running in just a few minutes, without frustration. That is the goal behind the Microsoft Signature experience.

Microsoft is at a disadvantage in this area as OEMs are free to release PCs as they want. This is the reason for all the trialware, crapware or whatever you want to call it. Typically when you buy a new PC you have to wade through a horrible installation process for the crapware, and removing it ratchets up the frustration level even higher. The OEM goal is to maximize revenue from the crapware companies at the expense of customer satisfaction.

All PCs sold in a Microsoft retail store are Signature PCs. This means no crapware, and that Microsoft engineers have produced a Windows install image that is designed to be trouble-free. The objective with Signature PCs is to have new customers up and running, happily, in 15 minutes.

It accomplishes this OOBE by doing more than simply removing the crapware. The entire Windows environment on a Signature PC has been vetted to eliminate problems for that particular system. Every system has the latest device drivers, and the Windows image is the latest possible. This means the initial Windows Update doesn't have to update much, speeding up that part of the initial process.

I am impressed with the effort Microsoft is putting into the Signature program. While customers are buying PCs built by other companies, it is Microsoft's image that suffers with the normal purchase process. Those of us buying Windows PCs are Microsoft's customers too, and we deserve no less than a frustration-free OOBE.

Topics: Microsoft, Apple, Hardware

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35 comments
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  • flamebait

    Another headline would be more mundane, but accurate. "Microsoft Signature Series reduces Configuration Time"
    Your Non Advocate
    • RE: Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

      @facebook@... I think there is a little more to it than that, a lot of the OEMs installs are pretty broken. I don't think the use of the world "Apple" is correct in this title - but I was willing to give him a pass, as I think we understand what he means.
      Jeremy-UK
    • RE: Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

      @facebook@...
      Agreed, Apple was only mentioned in the article twice and really has nothing to do with them.
      LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
      • The goal of the program is to replicate the Apple experience

        Yet they shouldn't be mentioned in the heading?

        Perhaps a better headline would have been:

        "MS innovates setup experience"

        They should apply for patents;-)
        Richard Flude
      • RE: Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

        @LoverockDavidson_

        Well, Apple does have a great OOBE, albeit because of their limited amount of supported hardware, and their complete control of their ecosystem with little regard to the sheer amount of partnerships Microsoft holds in high regard.
        TechNickle
  • RE: Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

    At LAST! Hopefully the OEMs will be shamed into just doing this. The way some OEMs screwup Windows installs is astonishing.
    Jeremy-UK
    • RE: Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

      @Jeremy-UK
      OEM's are already struggling with thin margins. You can't possibly expect them to take the crapware out of their PCs, it is one of their main sources of profits from consumer PCs
      regsrini
      • RE: Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

        @regsrini
        I generally agree with your assessment, but shouldn't the OEMs be trying to thicken their profit margins with peripherals than with crapware? Buy a new HP PC, let them sell you a new monitor, printer, wireless desktop, etc to go along with it. I think they can find ways to fix the profit margin issue that don't frustrate their customers and make the OS vendor look bad.
        swmace
      • RE: Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

        @regsrini
        If MS ever wants to improve their brand, these are the kind of steps they need to take. They don't have to go to Apple's level of control, but they should make an app/script/image that makes the PC shine. A very large percentage of problems arise from trial virus protection, crapware, useless utilities, etc. This gives the PC, manufacturer, and MS a bad reputation. Seems like this should have been done a long time ago.
        crazydanr
      • RE: Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

        @regsrini If they don't then they'll seal their own fates. And they will deserve it. If Apple have shown anything they have shown there is more to making a profit than removing the value.
        Jeremy-UK
  • regarding drivers

    how many times does Apple issue driver updates? Aside from any particular glitches - not once. That speaks a lot. Windows updates and driver updates are not gonna change anything until OEMs start employing better parts in their machines. ALPS touchpads come to mind.
    iravgupta
    • RE: Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

      @iravgupta
      although I agree with you in general, I think you are ignoring the scale at which Windows PC's are used around the world. Apple can afford to sell Macs in limited configurations because they are targeting only the high end. It is only Windows and Linux that scale to all budgets and situations. And when there is such variety, there are bound to be incompatibilities. You cannot all put it down to shoddy work on the part of Microsoft and OEMs.
      regsrini
      • RE: Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

        @regsrini So the choice is variety or reliability? I choose reliability.

        Isn't that the only sane choice?
        Jeremy-UK
    • RE: Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

      @iravgupta

      There's so many holes in your swiss cheese stream of consciousness paragraph, it's barely worth a reply.

      For instance - do you prefer old drivers to updated? Are glitches your only acceptable reason to allow updated drivers? Do you deny better drivers could indeed provide better hardware performance?..

      Go relax for a while... You seem angry.
      TechNickle
  • Microsoft has to be applauded for this, correct; they invented this whole

    ... mess, but at least they try to correct it.<br><br>However, cheap masses of HPs, Dells and Lenovos are going to continue selling without "Signature" -- that is because there is monetary interest of said companies to have images written on HDD with old OS and whole lot of junkware which is not really tested with each model/modification of model.<br><br>For now, only Apple has class to completely avoid this mess. It can not go cheap in areas which it considers critical for user experience (though they can go cheap in areas, where certain feature is not critical -- like weak iPad 2 video cameras).
    DDERSSS
    • RE: Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

      @DeRSSS [i]they invented this whole mess,...[/i]

      How so?
      Badgered
      • Windows distribution and licensing policy is solely determined by licensing

        @Badgered: ... agreements that Microsoft came up with.

        These agreements <b>intentionally allow</b> OEMs cripple user experience for the sake of widest adoption of Windows and profits for OEMs from software develops for installing junkware.
        DDERSSS
      • RE: Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

        @Badgered <br>With Microsoft providing the primary element for the platform, i.e., the os, oems have to find other ways to compete. That is generally by fighting it out on price. In order to offset the thin margins for having been commoditized, alternative revenue streams are attempted, including advertising.<br><br>Invent is not the right word, but Microsoft understands the advantage of price when marketing against Apple and the advantage of a unified user experience and software/network effect when marketing against Linux.
        DannyO_0x98
      • RE: Microsoft Signature program: Bringing the Apple experience to the PC

        @DeRSSS - imagine the hullaballoo if Microsoft was to try to prevent OEMs from installing their own choice of software on PCs they sell. It's likely that would be illegal.
        bitcrazed
    • Bitcrazed, it has and it was

      MS has threatened OEMs in the past to withdraw third party software support (Netscape and IBM), it was a major part of their antitrust investigation.<br><br>There's no solution for the windows platform. Margins are so tight because of hardware competition OEMs need the revenue. MS relies on low cost hardware to push their product, upfront cost being it's major advantage.
      Richard Flude