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back to article Feeling heat from Macs, Microsoft sells PCs sans crapware

With Apple Macs in its sights, Microsoft has been quietly reselling PCs that offer customized, slimmed-down installations of Windows designed to run faster and to be easier to set up and maintain. The software company has been selling computers preloaded with the custom Windows image since at least October 2009 under the a …

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Grenade

HP

I'm sure we used to get PCs at a previous job from HP (DC5100-7600s)) that just had a bare XP install on them.

Mind you, that might have been a Computacenter image.

Quite surprised it's taken MS/OEMs so long to take the corporate cock from their mouth and realise that there's actually a pretty large market for 'slimmed down' installs though.

Christ knows, having dealt with Acer towers, and their hour long, non-skippable 'value added' installation routines, I've seriously considered going back to my black art of making my own proper Sysprepped images and just ghosting the bastards straight out of the box...it'd probably have allowed me to earn more chargeable hours doing actual, real work over the last six months rather than charging for watching progress bars. Thankfully, the latest Acers seem much better for this, meaning I can do more work for more clients.

Thank christ....

Anon, as my bosses read this..

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yeah

it often depends on the range purchased. Dell vostros came loaded to the hilt with shovelware whereas optiplexes came with the bare minimum.

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The thing it's a subsidy

Corporate genitalia aside, the crapware subsidises the OS cost, or the full machine cost. It's one of the reasons the likes of Dell can sell windows machines cheaper than they can linux machines (volume and support costs being the other reasons of course).

Either PC makers will 'get' this and PCs go up in price but come comparatively crapware-free, or 'signature' just becomes a premium windows PC branding and almost nobody buys it because it's more expensive.

OTOH, is it that hard to run "PC Decrapifier" or similar on a new box?

It's what I've always done.

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Custom images

If you buy more than a few PCs Dell will prepare a custom image for you with just the OS, and any other software you like.

Our PCs come installed with SAP, Office 2007 and McAfee

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Anonymous Coward

@David Hicks

>OTOH, is it that hard to run "PC Decrapifier" or similar on a new box?

Depends how many times you have to do it I suppose - though in practice I guess most folk are re-imaging anyway.

>It's what I've always done.

I see it as an opportunity, since we just send them back if they don't meet the agreed spec - and when an anguished droid rings back, we're going with the second supplier unless there's a substantive discount for all the hassle and late delivery. For them there's nothing worse than losing a sale they've already boxed off and in a buyers market it usually pays to take the piss.

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Stop

just can't remove IE

Just can't remove IE.

And remember if you have a copy of IE your opinion just does not count.

And if you buy anything from Microsoft you must also purchase IE.

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Stop

Microsoft employees posting here?

I note that IE still can not be removed and it gets downvoted?

Since when is a customer choice a bad thing?

Did not Microsoft say in this article that choice it good, better or best?

Clealy being able to remove IE is a choice all consumers should have. And they do have for all other browsers.

So it must be true, if you have a copy of IE, your opinion does not count. Not one bit. Microsoft makes sure of that.

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Jobs Horns

Safari

Same goes for a Mac and Safari

You get a choice of Browser with Windows, when you run it first time you get a pop-up box and can choose your browser. Personally I always go from Chrome, it's the fastest and least bloated.

I've yet to see a news story saying that the EU or whatever have made Apple offer a similar choice to all the iSheep who buy their shiny toys...

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FAIL

Yes you got downvoted

Becasue you have no idea what you are talking about. Every time you post you come out with the same tired shit. Let me explain it to you in simple terms:

You CAN uninstall internet explorer - that would be the browser

You CANNOT uninstall the mshtml rendering engine that IE uses as many other things including non-microsoft software depend on it. The two things are seperate

Just like on OSX - Safari is the browser, webkit is the engine

You can uninstall Safari but try removing webkit and see just how many things break

Now that you have been enlightened please stfu

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Concurrence, not footprint made EU drive MS to multi browser choice!

"I've yet to see a news story saying that the EU or whatever have made Apple offer a similar choice to all the iSheep who buy their shiny toys..."

I believe you've missed the point why EU interfered with MS practice in the first place. It was due to the 90% - 95% market share - of both the operating system and the web browser market. It was never done to get a slimmer system. It was done to get the extreme situation with WinZilla not hurt the other browser makers. And to the benefit of the users.

In Mac OS X you can chose a web browser. It is essential in any case to have an internet connection if the browser issue arises. With the very same internet connection you would get your favorite browser. You can't get rid of Safari, or perhaps you can by throwing it away, I don't know? The amount of saved disk space would be insignificant so there is very little reason. Today a modern desktop system is typically crammed with software out of which some stuff you never going to use. Consider Safari as belonging to that group and you won't suffer any more than what the apache web server for instance do to you if that was something you wouldn't use.

OS X is already factory trimmed, that was the major thing with the last major release 10.6, and every OS X version from 10.0 to the latest has been not smaller as in GB (except for 10.6 that is) but of better performance. Like the Vista to 7 upgrade, performance wise, 6 times in a row. The bloat issue isn't really an issue on OS X for most users and there are certainly not hurting any browser makers particularly much.

While they are at it, couldn't Microsoft beat the OEM's crap with an attractive price? Or by actively promote the early adopter by some article about how cool them trimmed PC's really are?

I take the opportunity to give Google credit for voluntarily give the Chrome users the initial choice of search engines when during first launch. The know they aren't that far away from being as big on search as Microsoft are on the desktop. How long if ever will it take until Microsoft act in such a way as to demonstrate the same amount of courage and show the users as well as its competitor that kind of respect?

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Happy

Firts of April

Is not yet.

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Perhaps

>all of the appropriate drivers for the hardware type in question

Amazing - imagine including drivers for a machine WITH the machine. I bet some consultants worked hard to come up with that one!

> a suite of useful Microsoft applications and services, optimized versions of certain applications

So replacing the third party crapware and trialware with proper Redmond crapware and trialware

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Re:perhaps

The last part probably means Windows Live et al. + a trial of office, which actually might be useful to some people; more importantly, these things don't run in the background so with current capacities of hard drives shouldn't matter too much for the user.

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I'm sure some people

would be worried that it's a generic image, and need the reassurance that they have indeed added the correct drivers.

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Bronze badge

Comparing?

Yeh, but I'll bet NOT faster than a Mac with 10 apps in RAM and 2 GB of files in RAM, hahaha. I'm awed by how fast macs start up or resume. ms claims would have more merit if they are comparing umm, err... apples to apples, lol

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FAIL

You shouldn't be

as GNU/Linux on the same set up will do that and more. Enough said

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Let me just add...

Those Macs i saw resuming resume faster than either my Gateway (with 2 GB of RAM) or my HP Pavillion DV7 (with 4 GB of RAM) with either Mandriva or PCLinux OS running with VirtualBox hosting win vista on the GW and win7 on the HP).

It is funny how people will jump on and thumbs-down someone as if their emotions trump my personal experience and observation.

Granted, there are times when my laptops would suspend or hibernate in under 4 seconds and resume in under 10, but I've had plenty of random times where MD/PCLOS woudl refuse to hibernat or suspend or hibernate, but usually when RAM was soaked up by winv and win7 and sometimes even after shutting them down, presumably freeing up a GB or two.

I have not bothered other than once or twice (around Jan 10) hibernating/suspending win7 because i refuse to run it natively other than for a 5 or 10 minutes baseline comparison of other things. So, that is my experience. Thumb it down if you want. Ingraciate yourself if you want, but you won't deny my experience.

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@dssf

Let's get this straight - nobody here is going to "deny" your experience - if you want to masturbate over your Mac, that's your issue. I do remain unimpressed about startup times, though. I'm a reluctant Windows 7 user at work and a happy Windows XP x64 user (and unimpressed Mac user) at home (I own a 2010 Mac mini server, solely for Apple development reasons.)

I also have an Acorn A5000 (33MHz!) It makes the Mac mini look like it's stuffed with treacle when it comes to start-up times (try <3 seconds from cold.) To me, the greatest disappointment is why we have startup times as long as we do on current architectures, when I have a piece of vintage 1993 technology on my desk that clearly outperforms everything else in this respect.

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Gates Horns

Only Microsoft...

Must have been part of Billy Gates original master plan right from the start..."Right no drm controls and let everyone copy windows ... we'll start gradually bringing in copy controls from 2000 onwards... xp activation... also add crapware as we go .. then we can come with a new version that is better as it won't have any!!"...

Actually this reminds me of Ken Livingstone and traffic lights / Congestion Charge of rephasing to silly timings prior CC then setting them back.. did MS have any involvement?? heh..

I've always had original discs for OEM installs or volume license discs and never use any media bundled with the machine as it's crapware/out of date... It's hilarious though.... heh..

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Linux

saw the title

Wanted a bundled iscsi server, even if it doesn't have many features...

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WOW

WOW. I mean WOW. And it only took them - what - 5 years to figure this out. That's how long I've been telling friends and relatives to buy Apple, so I didn't have to come to their house and spend an hour uninstalling cr@p. Microsoft is indeed listening! But they're listening from somewhere about 5 light-years away.

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Re: WOW

> But they're listening from somewhere about 5 light-years away

Sound-years, surely.

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Alien

Sound-years

So they are roughly fifty-four million kilometres away, assuming sound at sea-level and STP. Oddly enough, that is about the same distance as Mars to Earth at closest approach.

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Anonymous Coward

Crapware

Here I thought Windows WAS Crapware.

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Paris Hilton

Downloadable utility?

Maybe it would be grand were an OEM stripper utility made available?

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Pirate

There is.

It's called "nuke and pave".

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Pint

There is!

PC Decrapifier, although I've never had to use it myself.

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Also...

...any recent Linux install CD.

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Dead Vulture

<rolls eyes>

"run faster and to be easier to set up and maintain."

"average boot 40 percent faster than the same piece of hardware"

"With Apple Macs in its sights"

Yeah, right. Apple, right. Because MacOS is well-known for being ressource-frugal, right.

I think someone in ElReg Towers fails to see the white penguin(s) in the room (hint: one of them is dressed as a 800-pounds Goooooooorilla).

Fast boot on shitty hardware: check

Fast operation on shitty hardware: check

Head in the clouds, so no user-serviceable parts inside: check

MacOS fails on *at least* 2 of these 3 points (not an attack against Apple, just not the same core target), so I find doubtful that MS has "Apple Macs in its sights" with this...

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Pint

Life is too hard, sometimes it's just worth paying a little extra for an easier life!

Selling an all-in-one device with O/S: check

Selling an O/S that needs no silly license checks or keys: check

Selling a user device, not a turbo-charged, geek wank-fest: check

Selling a device suitable for the tasks it is designed for: check

( Hint: It's not sold as a gaming rig! )

Selling quality hardware and O/S that will still be perfectly usable in 5 years: check

Selling a properly designed secure O/S base ( ie. unix ): check

Selling something that makes life easier, not harder: check

I am an Oracle DBA, Solaris and Linux sysadmin, I like my Mac as it means when I have had a gutful of shitty Sun and Oracle problems I know I can go home and the machine I have at home will just work so I can switch off Mr IT and be Mr User. My friends and family bug Mr IT at weekends enough, it's nice to have a simple machine that just works and doesn't try to hard to be complicated.

We have a team of 6 Windows admins where I am, 3 of them have Macs at home. 2 of the 4 network admins at my shop are Mac users. It's not just Joe Public's with no IT skills who use Macs, so take the blinkers off and see what is really going on.

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@I find doubtful that MS has "Apple Macs in its sights" with this...

Where can granda joe or yummy mummy sal by a PC with Linux pre-installed? Sorry? Can't quite hear you there? Now compare to what joe random-user can buy on the high-street / Amazon / eBuyer .. see the difference is clear .. its a basic choice of Windows XP/7 + crapware or OSX ... and with the Apple iPod/Phone/Pad/Stores halo effect it is driving more people in to the hands of Apple as a one-stop "it just works"(tm) solution for THE GENERAL PUBLIC ... not the Linux Geeks (or BSD if you are a purist) that lurk around here or even the Enterprise Freaks that roll their own Windows SOE.

So as Microsoft has always secretly envied the Apple consumer lock-in this is yet another "photocopying" event naturally following on from their Microsoft Stores presence (or in strict timeline it might have come just before the stores were ready) that they are trying. So it does seem obvious that this is again about de-tarnishing the MS 'Winblows' brand which suffered badly under Windows ME and Vista.

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Linux

...not even for extra light gaming.

> Hint: It's not sold as a gaming rig! )

>

> Selling quality hardware and O/S that will still be perfectly usable in 5 years: check

So you're not planning on ever playing a modern strategy or RTS game, eh?

That's the problem with certain types of "trailing edge" hardware. It's not that you have to worry about not being able to play Crysis or the other high horsepower flavor of the month. With a moderately out of date Mac you have to worry about being able to play ANYTHING that comes from a major studio.

With that in mind, any sh*tbox tower has a remarkable edge.

...and "turbo charged" means that I don't have to wait forever for iTunes or Handbrake to downscale something.

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@BingBong and anon fanboi

>Where can granda joe or yummy mummy sal by a PC with Linux pre-installed?

You can but it's hard to come by (Google OS, android and all the "instant boot" secondary OS that are installed on more and more machines ARE Linux). That's exactly my point, and this is an effort from MS to ensure that things stay that way.

@ AC fanboi: I don't diss MacOS, I'm only saying that low-end machines running a streamlined OS is NOT going to nibble at Apple's market share. It's just an entirely different market. A market particularly Linux-friendly.

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Happy

Some of us just play retro games, pre 2000 stuff!

I like playing retro games, you don't need a lot of horsepower to play Syndicate(PC) in DOSBOX and Rebelstar on a ZX Spectrum emulator! I find most of today's games are little bit samey, linear run'n'gun games with very little required from the player ( "All mouth and no trousers!" as my old Granny used to say! ) . Although I did buy Fallout 3 for my second hand XBOX360 console, as I liked the original Fallout games but that's about as up to date as I have gone.

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Gates Horns

own medecine

>They also come with “just the software you need,” which is code for saying the machines don't contain crapware such as promotional versions of antivirus software that can drastically hamper performance.

No trial version of MS office then?

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I (slightly warily) await our glorious platform unification overlords

I personally cannot wait until things like WP and Windows proper are 'unified' - I'd like to see a 'minimum specification' for Windows PCs (like WinPho7 phones have - eg. 1GHz CPU, this res screen, this size camera), that each OEM has to meet. Might stop the godawful flood of cheap Acers which can barely run the Windows 7 Home Premium that is installed on it, and save us "extended-family tech support" types a bit of a headache.

A downside is that such a unification of Windows may bring along with it some of the lock-in and lock-downs of most phone OSs. But no matter, that's why we have Linux/BSD/Haiku/etc. :)

This just seems like a logical first step.

On topic of the article, I hope they roll this out to other countries (cough Australia cough) soon.

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Competition Good

"With Apple Macs in its sights..."

Good to see competition is alive and well in the home computer arena, and working in the consumers interests. Long may it live.

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Anonymous Coward

What a travesty

It is basically impossible for the average user to control what's installed and running on his Windows computer. It shouldn't be a big deal if the manufacturers want to fill their computers with crapware, as long as it's easy to control/remove. Which it isn't. Most computer *experts* aren't even aware of the umpteen different lists of startup programs that are in Windows. Good job at failing, Microsoft. No wonder most people are switching to iPhones and iPads, where apps are shiny little buttons that are easy to rearrange and delete.

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Stop

Pointless title, which must contain letters and/or digits.

" Most computer *experts* aren't even aware of the umpteen different lists of startup programs that are in Windows. "

IME most computer experts don't use Windows. Go to any techie conference that isn't specifically about Microsoft these days and it's wall to wall Macs.

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Jobs Horns

Really?

And where do you live? San Francisco?

Pretty much every techie conference I attend is filled with a wide variety of Laptops, but very few of them are Apple and most are running Windows, a linux distro or more usually both. Most people I speak to would rather change career than give any money to the nanny state evil empire of Apple and see MS as the lesser of 2 evils

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WTF?

sorry you are

confusing IS directors and mangers as experts LOL. Ohh shiny Apple kit syndrome.

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Unhappy

Bigotted Nonsense

I am a real, paid "expert" (Windows, Linux and OS X among others, at system, application and programming level, command line and GUI, longer experience in more countries than I care to think about) and know several other "experts" who use all sorts of kit at work and home. Increasingly, OS X wins for private use and for business use where the user can. This is true of non-IT users of computers-as-a-tool too. Just walk up and down any train full of commuters, airport .... Take a quick shufty at what the (large number of) Mac users are doing: you may be taken aback by how many are writing serious documents, making work diagrams, spreadsheets etc., as well as those who use them for entertainment. I used to work with a colleague who, on his 17" Mac Pro, spent his commuting time designing those vast, biochemical pathway posters so beloved (and astonishingly expensive) at biochemistry conferences and in universities and research laboratories. Never saw anyone doing that under Linux nor even Windows (and I administered and developed the Linux [Slackware and SUSE, with secure stuff on BSD]) infrastructure at that firm).

Fantasise and hope all you wish; but MS is much more worried about OS X than N dozen varieties of a UNIX emulator in the hands of a specialised few, most of whom would not recognise the command line or shell if it bit them in the arse. Note that many serious, secure open source sites actually use BSD derivatives (apart from OS X).

And just what is wrong with good kit looking good too? You can always cover it in ugly, geeky stickers if ugliness turns you on.

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Well I've got a Macbook Pro...

Well I've got a Macbook Pro and it's running Ubuntu :D

Don't fall into that PC/Mac vs Windows/OSX trap

PC users don't all run Windows, and Mac users don't all run OS/X.

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Um, newsflash:

You may have heard of certain PC applications, such as MS Word, Excel and Visio. You may be similarly surprised that PC users have been productive with such applications for quite some time. People buy and use Microsoft Windows for a reason - and that is application software - which in turn, is work-driven.

It's fairly obvious to most of us.

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Boffin

Signature PC's

I have only ever built PC's and installed vanilla copies of Windows (whatever version) and so I am used to running these "super fast" Windows boxes...

Didn't stop me replacing PC's with Mac's though!

It is impossible to remove the crapware from Windows and have it install and run, it's built in... out of the box!

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Title

Have a look at windows embedded standard. They have all the tools, they just won't make them available to the "general public".

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Linux

re: It is impossible to remove the crapware from Windows

The LitePC tools make W2000/XP run like it should, Vista wasn't worth saving, I've heard that W7 isn't at all bad out of the box. Too late for me though. :-)

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Keys

If they care about clean install performance so much why don't they allow you to use an OEM key on a retail DVD?

It took me 2 hours to remove all the sodding bloatware from my last new Sony Vaio.

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Troll

I smell a troll

So Dan, where does the 'feeling the heat from Macs' come from? Of all the items you link only one mentions Apple and not as the motivation for Signature. You ignore totally the motivation laid out in the Paul Thurrott article* which looked at from an MS perspective is plausible. There's so much in signature you could criticise** yet instead you try to ignite another PC/MAC fanboi war. Do try to move on.

* The article does smell a bit ripe though.

**Signature is touted as 'just the software you need'*** but includes Zune? They *have* to be having a larf.

***Rip out Zune, Mail, Writer, Photo Gallery, Flash and silvershite; Upgrade W7 to XP Pro; Rip crappybat reader as Pro will go on; Install Terd, Excel and Visio (all 2003 natch); Install FF AdBlock & NoScript. Still a way short of just the software I need but a good baseline.

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