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Bill Bennett


Crapware still features on Windows devices

Within minutes of starting the otherwise excellent Dell XPS there was a reminder of one of the worst aspects of new Windows computers: Crapware.

The review machine came with a copy of MacAfee Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware. These programs aren’t necessarily crap.

But when shovelled on otherwise pristine systems they qualify as grade A crapware.

Because I wasn’t the first reviewer to borrow this machine, the free trial period for the software had expired. That’s fair enough.

What happened next was a non-stop cavalcade of reminders and warnings bullying me into buying the software. It’s horrible and it is hard to stop when you’re using someone else’s machine.

Removing crapware

If I had paid for the computer I’d be angry. I’d be swearing I’d never buy from Dell again and I’d be fiddling with crapware removal tools. That’s not good etiquette with review hardware so I fumed in silence.

While getting rid of trashy, unwanted software isn’t difficult. Asking paying customers to endure this intrusive, heavy-handed marketing shows Dell hasn’t grasped that the few pennies it might earn from selling its soul to the crapware merchants need to be weighed against the hundreds of dollars it stands to lose from customers looking elsewhere for their next purchase.

Microsoft doesn’t feel the need to inflict this kind of rubbish software on Surface customers. Nor does Apple allow crapware on Macs. Both companies are too aware of the importance of that out-of-the-box experience to spoil their ships for a ha’penneth of tar.



17 thoughts on “Crapware still features on Windows devices

  1. I would have uninstalled McAfee and told Dell I’d done it and why. And let Microsoft’s free Security Essentials carry the load. That’s what I use, along with a periodic double-check with the free manual version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

      1. Very interesting. For the moment though, because of inertia and because I’m a pretty careful user, I’ll stay with Security Essentials, backed up manually by Malware Bytes. But I will investigate the alternatives.

        I think the last time I saw the subject raised in the Windows Secrets newsletter, they were still happy enough with Security Essentials if it was backed up by the free manual version of Malware Bytes.

  2. I am often asked to assist with the purchase and setup of new Windows laptops and PCs (to a lesser extent these days) for friends and family (including data transfer – which now consists of dropping into Google Drive or Dropbox, so I don’t need to do it next time they upgrade).

    I tend to recommend machines that have less crap pre-loaded, so generally avoid brands like HP, Dell and Acer, despite whatever flashy specs they proclaim.

    The first thing I do is remove the “trial” software as this invariably causes problems/confusion for people who are less “technically literate” – the target market for crapware.

    1. Yes. The MacAfee software on the Dell seemed to do a complete take-over, to the point where an inexperienced user might think they had to pay up to keep using the device.

  3. I build my own PCs and thus don’t have this problem. Usually get better bang for my buck as well.

  4. I can’t see how the business model behind crapware works unless computer makers never expect to sell a second machine to the same customers.

  5. (Bill – I sent something like this reply earlier, but it it doesn’t seem to have arrived. Delete one if it finally turns up.)

    If a PC is loaded with crapware, that’s no reason to avoid it if otherwise it’s what you want. My Dell laptop came with a lot of crapware, but it was a Windows machine, so it was no big deal to get rid of. If I like the look of another Dell for its replacement some time, the presence of crapware certainly won’t kill the deal for me.

    Crapware is much worse on a tablet. My Samsung Tab S tablet has lots of stuff I’d like to get rid of, but I can’t unless I root the machine – not something I’ll do while its under warranty. I’ve sorted things so the crapware is essentially invisible, but the apps still hog limited storage space. On a full PC there’s plenty of hard drive accommodation for the programs you don’t want, so, apart from nasty stuff like McAfee, you can ignore the crap if you want to. Or delete it if you feel like it.

    But though crapware is reasonably easy to sort out, I’ll still join you in bitching about it!

    1. Love the last sentence!!!

      As far as crapware on phones and tablets is concerned, this is the reason I only ever buy Nexus devices… No manufacturer “improvements” (generally I find them quite the opposite) and a much faster upgrade path to new versions of the OS.

      1. I’ve had three Nexus phones and both models of the Nexus 7, but I parted company with the latter when I bought my Samsung Tab S in in March. It’s significantly better in spite of the crapware and the older version of the OS.

    2. “But though crapware is reasonably easy to sort out, I’ll still join you in bitching about it!”

      It’s easy to swat mosquitoes, doesn’t mean I welcome them…


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