Many of us spend the first few hours with a new PC removing a ton of trial software, ISP offers, and unwanted applications that are pre-installed by OEMs. In the interest of not running afoul of the FCC, I refer to this as shovelware. Others are less polite (or afraid that blogs will become the next revenue stream for the FCC). My fellow Tablet PC MVPs Warner Crocker and podcast partner James Kendrick have both spoken out on the cr*pware issue on many occasions.
On the new Dell one2one blog, Worldwide Client Software Manager Michelle Pearcy provides an explanation of what Dell is doing to reduce this unwanted stuff - what she calls "bloatware". She explains that on XPS and Small Business systems, there is an option to not have any software preinstalled. I know this to be true - the new Latitude D620 I'm writing this on came with virtually nothing installed except anti-virus software, CD/DVD burning and playing software (Roxio) and Google Desktop Search. I removed the preinstalled AV software in favor of my own preferred tool and found nothing else that needed to be uninstalled before I could begin building out the laptop the way I wanted it configured.
Pearcy does point out that many of Dell's customers like having their new PC arrive with applications installed that allow them to begin using the system as soon as it's plugged in (well, after the requisite Windows setup drill). That's fine. Making the preloading of this software optional is all I've ever asked for. I see no reason why it shouldn't be an option on any built-to-order machine Dell or any other OEM ships.
In the post, she addresses not only the actual software that's loaded (or not) but also the display of icons on the desktop and what is preconfigured to run at startup which has an obvious impact on both performance and the system tray display. On this last topic she writes:
We are also in the process of streamlining the system tray and quick launch sections of the desktop which will improve boot time and other performance metrics. However, our performance tests in the lab have not found significant improvements by removing software trials and other executables—most of our software sits quietly on the desktop until you launch it. The two culprits we have highlighted in our labs include the OS and security applications—both critical to using and maintaining the integrity of your PC. However, we continue to streamline what we ship and provide more choice to our customers when they buy a new system.
Kudos to Dell for listening and for explaining on their blog how they are working to meet customer preferences.