In Defense of Windows Bloatware

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If you've bought a Windows 10 computer in the recent past (or even the distant past), you received a ton of preloaded bloatware, most or all of which is useless to you. Seeing all those extra tiles in your Start menu is annoying, as is having preloaded antivirus software nag you to buy a subscription. However, a lot of folks, including Microsoft and some of my colleagues in the tech press, exaggerate the level of inconvenience caused by a little bloatware. 

ltp bloatware mf
While we don't know exactly how much manufacturers get paid to put trialware onto their notebooks, you can be certain that some money is changing hands. Every install of McAfee, Dropbox or Evernote you see on your new computer menu helps the vendor make a profit, and without those installs, the price of your laptop would almost certainly be higher.
 

To defray some of the laptop's manufacturing cost, you simply pay with a few minutes of your attention. Like advertisers on TV or the web, bloatware vendors are hoping to get you to click through and use their wares. Candy Crush Soda Saga, which comes on every new Windows 10 PC, is free to play, but once you get hooked, you'll be giving the game's publisher tens of dollars in micro transactions. 

However, just as nobody holds a gun to your head and makes you go to the dealership after you've viewed a Toyota commercial, no one forces you to open a bloatware app or even to keep it on your system. All that software publishers want is the opportunity to put their wares in front of you.

LTP-Bloatware_Menu-Clean Without Bloatware

Back in 2008, Sony actually charged $49.99 to sell you a Vaio laptop without bloatware. That option is no longer available from any manufacturer, but even if it were, the convenience wouldn't be worth the money. Unless you normally get paid hundreds of dollars an hour for your time, spending 5 minutes hitting the uninstall button won't cost you anything significant.

With Bloatware With Bloatware

To be fair, given the amount of bloatware on some computers, that estimated 5 minutes could turn into 10 minutes. A recent Acer Swift 3 that we reviewed had nine different pieces of manufacturer-installed bloatware, including Norton Security Scan, Priceline, Dashlane, Amazon, eBay and Netflix. That's in addition to Acer's own support software and all the standard Windows preloads.

In an attempt to entice consumers who hate bloatware on principle, Microsoft has a "Signature Edition" program, which promises a clean PC experience. Every laptop sold through the Microsoft Store and many, which are sold outside of it, are marketed as Signature Edition. The software giant says these computers are free from "third-party trial programs, junkware, extraneous utilities, toolbars and screensavers." 

Unfortunately, most of the bloatware on Windows 10 laptops is preloaded by Microsoft, whether you have Signature Edition or not. On recent laptops, we've seen nearly 20 different pieces of unnecessary, third-party software in the Create, Explore and Play sections of the Start menu, which are controlled exclusively by Microsoft.

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Microsoft's bloatware titles run the gamut from casual games, such as Candy Crush Soda Saga, to Keeper, a mediocre password manager. None of these apps is a "trial program," because they don't expire, but instead they have limited functionality until you pay for an upgrade or make an in-app purchase. 

The good news about Microsoft's hand-picked preloads is that they are all "Store apps" that cannot run in the background or eat up system resources until you launch them. A few of the bloatware apps don't even take up disk space; they are nothing more than tiles that point to a download page in the app store. You don't even have to go to the Settings menu to get rid of these apps; just right click on their Start menu tiles and select uninstall.

But whether your new laptop comes with 20 or 40 pieces of bloatware, the solution is simple: uninstall. In Windows 10, you can see a complete list of all your apps and uninstall the ones you don't want by navigating to Settings->Apps and Features. When you buy a brand-new car, you can expect to spend a few minutes peeling plastic wrapping off of the seats, and buying a new computer is no different. Considering that most people buy a new laptop every three to five years, spending 10 or even 20 minutes removing apps is a reasonable use of your time.

Credit: Laptop Mag

Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
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5 comments
  • DJ Pearce Says:

    Can't read this article since it won't translate properly in Chrome , Firefox, or Opera.

  • Jason Says:

    BS!!! I don't have a problem with uninstalling bloatware if:
    1. I can actually uninstall. There is so much MS crap that doesn't give you the option to uninstall
    2. After a major update the crap is reinstalled.

    STOP brown nosing to Micro$oft.

  • Daryl Says:

    It detracts from the new computer feeling, especially for my novice friends.
    Recently I bought a new car and had to sit with this lady while she described the benefits of paint protection, window coatings and add-ons.
    The car is a new quality car and her sales pitch was that the paint was subject to weathering which I knew not to be the case.
    At the time I thought it was an imposition on the buyer just like bloatware.

  • N. Mouse Says:

    You're defending an unpopular viewpoint, but you do perhaps have a single point; without bloat, the laptops would be more expensive. Estimates sit between €10 and €50, which is a drop in the bucket when you're buying a laptop, but still.

    You are missing several points, and you're misrepresenting several others.


    First of all, this is not a desired situation for end users, but there is a severe lack in competition. All major hardware vendors do this, and none provide an option for end consumers to bypass this problem.

    Second, these applications are not always easy to remove, McAffee is one of the better examples, as is the obvious malware, but Candy Crush also falls in this category, as it simply tries to reinstall itself, sometimes several times in a row.

    Third, uninstalling does not take 10 or 20 minutes. McAffee alone takes half an hour, if you're unlucky. Candy Crush saga simply reinstalls itself during updates and such, so you're losing a lot of time.

    Fourth, not all bloat is harmless; far from it. Think of Superfish, and other obvious malware, but I would also state that software such as McAffee is harmful, as it does indeed become active in the background.

    And, finally, it harms the image of the end user as well as the company; I've seen corporate and academic presentations where Candy Crush Sage cheerfully reports that it has updated, and the speaker getting confused, usually with the words "But I removed that!"

    Based on all this, I'm wondering what your stake is in this obvious misreporting of the situation.

  • David W. Lloyd Says:

    I couldn't see much of your article due to ads that popped up over the text and wouldn't move unless I clicked on them (which I refuse to do).

    I suppose part of my disagreement may be my definition of bloatware versus yours. I don't want any software other than the OS installed on my machine. I consider it all bloatware. And when I uninstall an application that Windows put there, it doesn't matter that I have a preferred program I have used for years that I want to use instead. Windows routinely uninstalls my software to replace it with their bloatware. I'm currently running a dual-boot setup with Linux, and when I find Linux-equivalent software for all of my applications, I'll be replacing Windows permanently. Linux is free, it doesn't install bloatware, it's far more considerate of my security, and the user community is much more friendly and helpful than the online support for Microsoft products.

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