OK, we can't resist commenting on a piece that discusses "crapware."
A post from Ars Technica writer Ken Fisher discusses a comment by Michael Dell at CES that a $60 premium would be enough to stop most OEMs (and Dell ought to know) from installing "crapware," defined as third-party applets or, even more annoyingly, trial versions of software. Does anybody still need a trial to determine if they want MS Office?
Of course, his comments were in the context of a Q&A, and shouldn't be seen as a precursor of any new marketing plans. In fact (and please understand, we weren't there), the idea of a $60 additional fee for a new system seems so silly to us that we assume Dell was saying, "Look, now you see why it's not gonna happen."
OEMs will still take fees from AOL, Yahoo, Quicken and every other software vendor in the known universe to pre-install "crapware" and "nagware."
We were most taken with comments following the Ars Technica piece, in which many readers say all they want is a clean Windows restore disk, sans crap, and they'll happily do a quick wipe and re-install on a new box.
Fisher's post was prompted by an article at CBCnews in which an unnamed MS exec is quoted as saying that Redmond is worried that it will take the heat if many of these craplets (Microsoft's nifty turn on the phrase -- we wonder if it applied the label to MSN sign-up bugs back in the day?) are incompatible with Vista.
We didn't read the article to intimate that Redmond is inherently against pre-installed software trials -- only that it's specifically worried about Vista compatibility. But quotes like this one attributed to the MS exec:
"We can't do anything about it because it would be illegal."
are sure to irritate folks who think Redmond is the number-one offender when it comes to putting stuff on your PC that you don't want.
And Ed Bott, one of our favorite Windows bloggers, notes that buggy craplets will result in support calls to PC vendors, not Microsoft itself, so it's safe to bet the OEMs will test out Vista compatibility pretty thoroughly.
Ars Technica readers have it right, although it's unlikely that Microsoft would force OEMs to distribute a "clean" Windows restore disk along with backup of all that extra stuff. The best advice for SMBs and other shops that rely on consumer systems in their hardware refresh cycle is to use an image of a "healthy" machine to prep each new system.
Flushing all that crapware is just a bonus.