Dell bows to user pressure over 'bloatware'

Company will offer an opt-out from some preinstalled software on its computers but security, Adobe and Google software will remain

Dell has finally relented on the issue of "bloatware" — the often unwanted programs that come pre-installed on a new computer.

Ever since the computer manufacturer set up the IdeaStorm forum for customers to raise issues they wanted addressed, one of the most popular topics on the site has been that of bloatware. Dell is notorious for selling its PCs and notebooks with a varied assortment of programs pre-installed, ranging from security software to ISP and entertainment applications.

Now the company has announced that most of the pre-installed software on its computers will become optional at the point of configuration. "When you configure a system on, you [now] have the option of choosing "No software pre-installed" for things like productivity software, ISP software and photo and music software," wrote Michelle Pearcy, Dell's worldwide client software manager, in a blog.

Pearcy added that "no software" would become the default option on most XPS systems, and an option on Dimension desktops and Inspiron notebooks.

However, three types of software will remain mandatory. These include trial versions of antivirus packages, "because many of our customers simply expect their PCs to be protected at first boot and beyond", according to Pearcy.

Other mandatory software will include Acrobat Reader so users can view essential system documentation, and Google tools.

US customers will get a "software uninstall utility" on their systems, allowing them to pick and choose what they want to keep or lose. There is no word yet on whether customers outside the US will get this privilege.

Feedback on the IdeaStorm website has also resulted in Dell finally selling machines with an open-source operating system pre-installed, although there is further controversy on the site over delays in extending this policy outside of the US.