Should You Pay Microsoft $99 To Remove Unwanted Software?
Microsoft wants you to experience the true power, speed, and elegance of Windows – and the company will only charge you $99 to do so. That's the price of Microsoft's new Signature service, which removes third-party crapware from your PC, and promises to boost performance. Read on to find out if it's worth the money...
Microsoft Removes Crapware for $99
"Crapware" is a crude but apt term for unnecessary software loaded onto computers by hardware vendors. It may include trial versions of software that have limited functionality, demos that are nothing more than advertisements, and shareware utilities that duplicate functions already built into Windows. Vendors get paid a little bit for including each piece of crapware on their computers, and a bit more every time a customer upgrades one of those trial versions to a paid version.
For over two years, Microsoft has been selling crapware-free PCs through its online store and a handful of retail stores. These "Signature edition" computers boot to a clean Windows desktop, without any distracting pop-ups pushing crapware trials. Signature edition PCs are also faster than crapware-laden computers, according to Microsoft.
How much faster? Microsoft actually ran tests on a bunch of new PCs, and found that those without the extra software bloat started up almost 40% faster. For those with laptops, Sleep and Resume times are also significantly reduced.
If you have been kicking yourself for not buying a Signature edition PC from Microsoft, you can stop now. Microsoft technicians will convert your existing computer to a Signature version for only $99. All you have to do is bring your crapware-laden computer to a Microsoft retail store. There are a whole sixteen of them in the country right now, and that number will soon swell to 21. Oh, and you have to leave your computer with Microsoft for 24 to 48 hours, then come back and get it. On the plus side, you also get 90 days of free phone support after the Signature service.
A House Swept Clean?
But even after a scrubbing by Microsoft, you'll still have software on your computer that you don't need or want. As part of the Signature package, Microsoft will install the following items that most people are better off without:
- Zune software ("Shop, explore and discover all the entertainment you can handle")
- Windows Live Movie Maker ("Turn your photos and videos into polished movies")
- Windows Live Writer (a desktop blogging and publishing tool)
- Microsoft Silverlight ("enables interactive media and immersive mobile apps")
- PlayReady PC Runtime ("enabled content access technology for digital entertainment")
See my related article What is Windows Live Essentials? to learn more about these and other apps that Microsoft wants you to have on your computer.
The Easy Way to Save $99
The old saying "One man's junk is another man's treasure" seems to apply here. That's why I recommend NOT paying Microsoft $99 to remove unwanted software, and only to replace it with their own. You will see a performance boost from Microsoft's Signature service, but many of the programs they install are designed to funnel more dollars from your wallet to theirs. And with a little effort, you can do it better without spending a penny.
It's not that difficult to remove crapware yourself. In most cases, the Windows Add/Remove Programs function (found in the Control Panel) will do the trick, though you may have to uninstall multiple programs. There's an even easier and equally free crapware-removal technique called, appropriately, PC Decrapifier.
PC Decrapifier contains a list of crapware programs. When run, it scans your system and reports the presence of any such programs. You can check or uncheck a box next to each program to specify whether you want it removed or retained. Then PC Decrapifier executes your wishes. After removing known crapware, it displays a list of all remaining programs; you can select any for removal on a second pass.
NOTE: Don't be fooled by sneaky "Download" ads that sometimes appear on the PCDecrapifier.com website. Click the BLUE "Download Now via MajorGeeks.com" button, or you could end up with the wrong program.
Sony proposed something similar to this Signature initiative back in 2008. For only $50 extra, you could buy a crapware-free computer direct from Sony – the very company that put crapware on its computers in the first place. Widespread outrage killed this "Fresh Start" program on the drawing board. I don't think Microsoft will get much farther with its Signature idea.
If you want more tips on freeing up additional space on your hard drive, see my article How to Clean Up Your Hard Drive.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome! Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 21 May 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Should You Pay Microsoft $99 To Remove Unwanted Software? (Posted: 21 May 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved