Do You Use Pre-Installed Software?

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When I review new computer hardware, I try to first use it “as is” and then make configuration changes based on the way I’d use a computer if it were actually mine. One of the key components of “as is” configuration is the software that comes pre-installed. For instance, on the HP dv2 I received from HP for testing some of the pre-installed software includes a Norton Internet Security trial, a Microsoft Office trial, Slingbox Sling Player, and muvee reveal. Then there are the paid links to services like ebay, a Quicken and Quickbooks trial download, NetZero, and Juno.
Some of these pre-installed features are actually useful and some of them are downright annoying. Take Norton Internet Security for instance. While I’m all for a secure computing experience, I don’t particularly want to use Norton’s products. Everytime I power on the HP dv2, I get nagged to activate the Norton trial. Once I get past the “as-is” experience, Norton will be the first thing on the list to get uninstalled.
Other software I might actually want to try if I knew what to do with it doesn’t ever make itself known. The Microsoft Office trial doesn’t ever do anything unless you open one of the applications. Since I’m not informed of a situation when I’d want to use Office, I don’t ever have a reason to try it out. Of course, I already know what Microsoft Office is for, but that doesn’t mean everyone who gets a new computer does. muvee reveal is a fun application for making quick movies from your video recordings. If I wasn’t already aware of muvee’s software, I would never know that it’s for video from the information provided on by this HP dv2. The Slingbox Sling Player is definitely an advertisement for buying a Slingbox, but it also sits quietly on your computer, so if you never bother to look at it you won’t ever know why you would or wouldn’t want to use it. If you already have a Slingbox, it is nice to already have the software ready to go.
Presumably either the software companies are paying to put this stuff on new computers or HP is paying to have access to the software. In either case, if I never use the software, the financial transaction involved is a waste. Even worse for me as a customer, at retail places like Best Buy encourage me to pay for an optimization service that removes trial software so I lose and so do the software companies. In a better customer experience, I’d get some education about the benefits of the software so that I might make an informed decision about what I want or need.
But my real question is, what do you do with the software that’s pre-installed on your new computer? Do you use it? Do you uninstall it? Is there software listed in your start menu that you’ve never tried? Would you use more of the software on your computer if you knew what it was for?

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13 comments

  1. I build my own computers, just so I don’t have to deal with all that crap!!! I chose what I want in software and usually it is Freeware, which is many times better, than retail software. I am a very happy camper and my computer is NOT full of Bloatware.

  2. I have not installed a piece of Symantec software on my machine for years. The two major reason were that I found it very difficult/impossible to completely remove it and most utilities that I tried were bloatware and brought my computer to a standstill. I have read recent reviews of the Norton security software that claim that it is much easier on computer resources than older versions. I am almost ready to give it a try.
    When I purchased my wife a Dell computer recently I used “The PC Decrapifier” to get rid of most of the per-installed junk. It seemed to work very well.

  3. For $75.00, the Geek Squad at Best Buy will strip all commercial add-on software from a new purchase. Outrageous. You can do it yourself but the esoteric names of some products don’t allow you to know if it is part of the operating system or a legitimate add-on. Every new product should come with a list of pre-installed s/w and instructions for getting rid of it. I spent a total of 3 hours over 2 days getting rid of stuff that popped up on my new HP laptop.

  4. First I install Revo Uninstaller. Then I remove all trashware completely and have a clean, uncluttered machine ready to run efficiently and unhampered by resource grabbing junk. If PC decrapifier did a better job of cleaning the registry and junk files, I’d gladly use it, but more and more I’m starting to think that I’ll have to start building my own machines to be free of unwanted slowdowns and problems force on my by greedy manufacturers who seem oblivious to their consumers needs and desires.

  5. If I purchase a pre-built system I will immediately uninstall things I absolutely know I will not ever use, like M$ Office (Open Office fan). Software I’m unsure or unfamiliar with, I’ll leave for a while and give it at least one try. After several months I’ll take a look through the menus again and anything I have not used, “oh look there’s that app to watch videos on ESPN”, I’ll dump. If I haven’t found a need for them by then, I never will!
    One area I pay special attention to is when I install apps I have gone in search of. It seems like you can’t install anything without it wanting to install Ask, Google or Yahoo Toolbars, I always decline.
    I’m having a little different experience on one of my machines, a desktop that we recently abandoned MS all together and switched to Linux Ubuntu. I’ll grab a hand full of new apps to install, give them a quick spin, then pull off anything that doesn’t suit my fancy. My wife and kids seemed to respond positively to Ubuntu, my 3 year old, Wyatt, simply adores all the available games. Between it and the system with Windows, Wyatt always chooses to play with the Ubuntu system.

  6. The first thing I do with any new machine is to install Revo Uninstaller, along with CCleaner. Revo is the absolute best uninstaller I have used in years. Not only does it scan the Registry to find which keys have been left over from an install; it also scans and allows one to delete files related to the unwanted install. A word of caution here: Do NOT delete anything left behind from a MS Office product uninstall–if you have other MS Office products installed that you will continue to use in the future! This is the voice of experience! 😎 However, it does an excellent job of cleaning off unwanted MS items, if that is what you wish to do.
    After uninstalling everything deemed useless or a hindrance, I run CCleaner’s Registry Cleaner a number of times, until it finds no more issues. This combo has saved me many hours of sleuthing to discover just what the sloppy uninstallers leave behind.

  7. Like Jim Park, I install Revo Uninstaller and CCleaner to remove programs I don’t want, starting with anything Norton. Once considered the very best, I used Norton long ago until it took over my system in ways unfathomable and got in the way, and that was before Revo – yuck. Then away go all those “offers” and most of the other extras so I can install my own apps. Out goes Adobe Reader, in goes Foxit Reader, Open Office, Convert, AusLogics defrag, Firefox & Thunderbird. If in doubt about any program or service, check Black Viper web site for guidelines. I’m shortly going to try building my own machine and also learn Linux after formatting and fresh install of XP and the freebies I treasure on my older Sony desktop to be shipped to a daughter.
    TechTV was a good teacher, now I rely on a choice list of newsletters from experts like Jake Ludington to keep up.

  8. I have purchased Dell computers and asked the phone sales person to have anything they can remove, removed. The last two times they have actually removed a number of items. When the computer arrives I use Revo, CCleaner and JV 16 to remove all traces of unwanted programs. My newest computer has Vista 64-bit. I was one of the testers of the Vista system and Microsoft rewarded my efforts with a free copy of Vista Ultimate in both 32 & 64 bit versions. I reformatted the hard drive and installed the 64-bit Ultimate version on a unit that came with 64-bit Vista Home and bloat ware. No junk ware need apply.
    The first pre-installed software that ever gave me a real problem was Norton. Not only did it require many hours, but serious research to get rid of all the pieces. The only software I have ever seen that was worse was AOL installations I got rid of for friends. That has forever left me with no desire to try Norton, even if it gets great ratings. Ironically, Norton & AOL have contributed some income to me. I have gotten paid for removing them from the systems of people to whom I was recommended.

  9. I guess I am the odd-ball of the group; I love Norton! When I purchased my Dell, custom built, I had them install McAfee since I had been hearing so many “good things” about them. (at that time, I was unhappy with Norton) After receiving my computer with McAfee, I hated it, thus, removed it. Like others mentioned, it was hard to find all the hidden aspects of the program to completely remove, but with trial and error, I finally did…and have been a Norton fan ever since..newer versions are better. As for the pre-installed software, I guess I was lucky. Since I ordered my Dell, I chose the software packages, and the “extras” that tagged along were added bonus’ for me. True, the few things that were “trials” were of no interest to me, thus, I deleted/removed them, except for Microsoft’s “extras”. They were the biggest nightmare. I found you could not remove things such as MSN without screwing up everything, thus, I have to have it, but just avoid it. IE used to be good in the old days, but it allows too much “junk” to get into my system, and so going directly to the internet through IE is avoided; I prefer going through AOL. Some others, such as Quicken, I just never installed; they simply sent me the disk for me to install if I wanted.
    I am no computer pro by any means, my Dell is only my second computer, and I love it.
    I do agree with everyone as far as the “junk”. I think they need to be explained more for it to benefit all, because if I don’t understand it, it gets shelved. I won’t delete it if I am not sure what it is and it looks possibly useful, because I may need it or understand it one day.

  10. With the computers I have purchased over the years, I always get the recovery/reinstall disks, and the first thing I do after booting up and running for a few days is wipe the hard disk and reinstall from scratch.
    There is just so much annoying and useless “bloatware” that it’s not funny.

  11. Got a super fast 4 or 5 GB, quad HP….like you say, lots of junk…lots of things, folks want you to buy.
    I was pleasantly surprised to see a cyberlink program to help with my Blue Ray burning….for free ! You see I’ve got a Blueray Burner installed.
    Most of the Trials and freebles are older stuff…just a teaser.
    Now the Computer is way to quiet for my liking…does stuff I can’t fathom…but then, I’m an old foggie…and most machines are smarter than me.
    I deleted Norton, as best I can….I think I killed it off.
    Quicken…..dead as well.
    cyberlink power director 5 dead…..Don’t go near anything but version 7 ultra !
    If something doesn’t jump up into my face, on my HDMI Big Screen Benq…I live and let live.
    I think life is better with 64 bit Vista…but then I don’t go near the Net, with my new baby.
    I will use the older 32 Bit XP computer, as long as I can, for the Net.
    I think it’s like a good pair of shoes…we get along just fine.
    Now Vista, I don’t know……..

  12. I’m just curious how do I find out which pre-installed software can be erased safely without any consequences to the computer?
    For example I’ve got a fingerprint reader can I only use the ‘Asus’ security manager…,my laptop being Asus?
    Also anyone that has an Asus laptop have you found any of the pre-installed software useful or necessary?
    Analog

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