Should You Pay Microsoft $99 To Remove Unwanted Software?

Category: 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.
Clean Up Your Hard Drive

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 website. Click the BLUE "Download Now via" 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...

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Most recent comments on "Should You Pay Microsoft $99 To Remove Unwanted Software?"

(See all 24 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

21 May 2012

Just another market floundering from a once powerful dynasty groping to find a heart in spite of their long lost soul.

Posted by:

21 May 2012

This renews my faith in Micro$oft. Pay them $99 to replace garbage with garbage.
I've never had occasion to use/need PC Decrapifier but I like Revo Uninstaller in that it cleans out all the leftovers.

Posted by:

21 May 2012

Thanks for the tip. The decrapifier runs smoothly and quickly removes excess baggage. It remains to be seen if things will speed up as a result, but it's still nice to remove useless programs.

Posted by:

Risden Hill
21 May 2012

I'm a bit concerned about this particular software that you're suggesting: PC decrapifier. You also have recommended the (also free) CCleaner for registry problems. The PC decrapifier finds _lots_ of problems, it says; however, CCleaner only found 4. Why this huge discrepancy? (Talking about several hundred problems via decrapifier vs. 4 for CCleaner.) The decrapifier is what I call "alarmist" in nature. I don't trust the decrapifier because of the vast numbes of problems reported. Your comments please, "Dr. Bob?"

EDITOR'S NOTE: Are you sure you downloaded the right program? PC Decrapifier doesn't do that type of scan. It only identifies programs on your computer that should be removed.

Posted by:

21 May 2012

Is there any difference between running the Decrapper and such aas Revo Uninstaller? Dcrap seemed to make a vertical list of what RU puts up with icons.
And as to uninstalling with either of these, what are all the Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 [0r other year] Redistributable, fllowed by KB numbers?

Posted by:

21 May 2012

Wow, THE King of Crapware wants $99 to remove crapware, some of which is theirs and remains on the system. Yup, that's Microsucks for ya.

Posted by:

21 May 2012

I thought this sounded like a good idea, so I followed your link to PC Decrapifier. As soon as I started to download it, my security software blocked it, and said the site contained malware. So is this just a case of exchanging crap for a virus, or more crap?

EDITOR'S NOTE: There are some misleading ads on the PC Decrap site today, which look like "DOWNLOAD" links. Did you hit one of those by mistake?

Posted by:

digitlal artist
21 May 2012

Just five minutes before I read this article I deleted a file named "update" from the program IOBit Uninstaller. I just recently downloaded and installed this freebie, which I like better than the MS control panel uninstall program, but I hated the "Upgrade to Pro version" pop-up every time I started the computer. I don't know if the IOBit uninstaller will even work without its "update" program, but it was free in the first place. I wonder if I could remove "add/remove programs" from control panel?

Posted by:

21 May 2012

I am a big fan of freeware, and I guess more than 90 percent of my computer use is driven by freeware. (Firefox, of course, OpenOffice, Abiword, Desktop Calendar Lite, Mike Lin's Startup Control Panel, and on and on. All great programs!) I have learned one trick. Pay close attention when installing freeware (or any software). Disallow the installation of any features except what you intended in the first place. If I had allowed every toolbar that came attached to my freebies, I wouldn't have screen space to see a web page!

Posted by:

21 May 2012

The problem is in not knowing what software should be removed, what is a dulication and what is superfluous to one's needs. Other than that, the idea is good because speed certainlt becomes eroded over time.
One needs to be abloe to download one's software listing and receive so9me advice on what to remove.
Just a suggestion

Posted by:

22 May 2012

I use Revo. It works best and it gets all the stuff that the default uninstallers miss.

Posted by:

Paul Sikora
22 May 2012

Extortion definition: "The obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right." Microsoft works with vendors to inflict pain by bogging down computers, and then Microsoft charges money to stop it.

Posted by:

22 May 2012

My 'No Script' programme says the webpage at P C Decrapifier has hosted malware - recently too.

I shall give it a miss.

(I used your link).

Posted by:

22 May 2012

Refracted through my prism, it is irrational, perverse, and inane to pay Microsoft $99 to remove generic crapware and then install Microsoft crapware. Evidently, gullible buyers of snake oil still exist.

Posted by:

22 May 2012

Amazing. And I thought "extortionware" died with the SCO lawsuits.

Anybody falling for this should have all rights to use any computers revoked, and cursed to use WebTV for the rest of their lives.

Barring that, M$ should be flogged for trying to foist this crap upon us; the only saving grace will be that it's going to be an epic fail, because they just don't believe in it enough to go whole-hog into the project (21 stores NATIONWIDE!?!? Are you kidding me??).

Posted by:

Art Frailey
22 May 2012

Hmmm! I have wondered for some time if some of the "updates" don't have built in crap with the programs when you get the program. I have even been off line acouple times for more than a week,and when turned on my computer, there were more Micro-Soft.Mind you, I am still off line.
Is this stuff built in already? I hope not, but it sure looks like it !!

Posted by:

22 May 2012

I agree with Harry! Notice they don't offer to remove their IE among other junk without messing up your system. I'm having fun with Ubuntu and it won't be long before it's my only operating system. $99? What a joke.

Posted by:

Digital Artist
22 May 2012

on 21 May I posted "Just five minutes before I read this article I deleted a file named "update" from the program IOBit Uninstaller...." Today it is right back where it was, so I deleted it again then "shredded" the contents of the recycle bin with, of course, IOBit Uninstaller. I am sure it will be back, though. I guess I will just have to edit the code If anybody knows this program I would appreciate suggestions, I haven't coded anything since writing a C program for the DOS platform

Posted by:

27 May 2012

It never ceases to amaze me how companies figure out a way to make a buck!! I mean, really Microsoft has some major stones to try to pull this over on people. I will give this PC Decrapifier a try to see what it does and how well it actually works. Though I have my doubts because if it's to good to be true, it usually is.

I myself subscribe to the Leo Laporte school of computer housekeeping " Burn it down, reformat and reinstall " gets rid of ALL the CRAP. Granted, it's alittle more time consuming to do this, but, at-least I know I got a clean HD and only install what I want to install.

One thing I have learned is that no program truly removes every file of a given program, there's always junk files left behind that supposedly other programs require/need in order to operate.

Posted by:

31 May 2012

Wow, it's simply amazing how many uninformed people (MS Bashers) there are in these comments.

I'm far from an MS fanboi, but let's get it straight folks, Microsoft DOES NOT install this crap on your shiny new computer, the OEM does. Microsoft DOES NOT make money from all that crapware the OEM installs on their machines, the OEM does.
Microsoft only licenses the OEM to install Windows on their machines, that's it...period.
So if Microsoft wants to offer to remove it for $99, it's not in an effort to rip you off even more after they installed the crap. You are still being ripped off tho, as there are simple and free fixes for this. Any good Tech Help forum will gladly walk you thru how to uninstall all of the unwanted junk.

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