We've all put up with what my good friend and fellow Tablet PC MVP Warner Crocker has dubbed "crapware" – the pre-bundled software loaded onto new PCs by OEMs – for a long time. Those of us who buy new PCs on a frequent basis have come up with strategies for removing this stuff as soon as we receive a new machine but it's a chore, even for the most technically adept, and not something I'd ever want my mom or dad to have to try to figure out.
In today's Wall St. Journal (4/12/07), Walt Mossberg takes on the "craplets" issue and adds his powerful voice to the chorus asking OEMs to stop loading new PCs with unwanted software. It's often difficult to completely remove this stuff, especially in a day and age when a Windows installation disc is rarely included with a new PC, as Mossberg notes.
When I cleaned up the last couple of consumer machines I've bought for family members, I eliminated gigabytes worth of trialware, games, and applications they would never use. But getting all the detritus left behind by most applications is a task the average PC user simply shouldn't be asked to perform.
It is possible to custom order a machine without this stuff on it, at a premium cost, in some higher-end or business configurations but that does nothing for the consumer buying a new PC at the local big box store. As Mossberg also points out, you can avoid this by purchasing your PC from a local "white box" retailer but you need to choose a company you have confidence will be able to provide after-sale support and service.
I'm pleased to see a major voice in the technology call for an end to this unwanted bundling. Include a DVD with this stuff on it so people can choose what they want or, better yet, take a lesson from Linspire and set up a Click and Run style website where customers can go to do a one-click install of applications they'd like to ad to their new PC.
Update: Turns out Apple has something to say about this issue as well. The just released another Get a Mac ad - this one's called "Stuffed". If you're a fan of these spots, you'll like it. If you're not well.. don't click the link.